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And Let Me Live Again

Why was Sandra so hell bent on figuring everyone out? What was it that sent her on these long grueling excursions of the mind, time after time, treating coworkers like safes to crack open. What was it she aimed to find inside by dissecting her fellow humans? Others would assess this dire little windowless retail department of various, not particularly interesting souls where she worked for the past several years and move on, realize there was nothing but negativity here to be fought and be done with it. They would find satisfying work, other positions within the company. They’d choose happiness.

As a matter of fact, many did just that and successfully. Through time Sandra would watch several kind, outgoing, positive folks move along through her terrain, careful not to step in too much reality before happily climbing out of the muck and onto better things. They were on their own trails that didn’t include studying people so closely. They wanted worldly things.

But Sandra was only interested in the people, and things unworldly. So instead, she settled into this bleak domain and made this her work. That was several years ago and if she were keeping tally, she would admit, she’d won very few battles. Her opponents so to speak in these fights were her coworkers mainly, sometimes customers, an occasional manager. Some lazy, some conniving, others ruthless, deceitful con artists, bullies, using gruff intimidation, loud speak, and anger to hold court within the department. Sandra was part of that large group all of equal power as far as the company was concerned. On the outside, just another group of workers together trying to sell closets and interior fittings. But in the bowels of the retail gut, all kinds of mayhem ensued in the day to day. There were always about two or three folks that rotated as her mental sparring partners. It seemed as soon as one would move on, another would immediately appear to replace them equipped with their own unique set of weapons. The other coworkers were mostly advocates, with a couple floating in between. At any point, these followers were able to be swayed to the other side though, so she felt it important to keep tabs on their fidelity. To her this felt like maintaining spinning plates in the air while juggling .

She thought, if this were a simple board game the object would be to steer the majority of energy towards positive outcome. A match of good intentions versus selfish bad behavior. The opponents represented all injustices, people for no clear reason except for their own insecurities who made the working space unpleasant, while spreading their vile, scamming, manipulation, maintaining a hostile backdrop for their own personal benefit and generally just being the worst at what they were paid to do. You could only reach another level in this game if you could either take down, weaken or best option, turn a bully, recruit them to use their powers for good. These were all things that Sandra took seriously for whatever her own personal reasons. She had no loyalties to the company, she merely felt one should always work when getting paid. She felt it was one of the last honest transactions out there. An agreement that you willingly make with clear start and stop times. In her eyes, this place, her game board so to speak was as good as any to live in the world. Her logic was that we were put on this earth to process some lessons, both give them and get some. It didn’t really matter the environment you chose to do so, it was more important that you get to working on them at every juncture in time.

But nothing was coincidence, the perspective was everything to the types of issues she needed to face, the kind of people she looked to thwart, the variety of class. In this incarnation Sandra had plopped herself directly down in the heart of one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, surrounded by housing projects but within a large retailer that provided constant and safety. Her coworkers and customers would mirror the terrain, from all walks of life, not necessarily the kindest or happiest of folks always but truly unique and raw. Something she definitely sought out, one would imagine.

So here she was several years into the game, hopefully working towards an end, but still unsure of any progress made. She often wondered if this was all a complete waste of time. Not the working, she needed the money and it was the only job she could find. But the combat, was it worth it? It always felt like something she was born to do, a cosmic obligation of sorts. And there was never a guarantee that what she believed going in would be true coming out of it. Many times she was the shrew who needed to see her own ill conduct in the right light. But truth be told, she was very tired of fighting, that was more clear each year. She believed her next venture should include much more laughter and joy. She would make it so. But still, she hated not knowing if any of her efforts had purpose. Was the objective the act itself, of fighting these ridiculous daily battles regardless of the outcome?

At times she felt close to cracking one particularly stubborn case who she named Mariah after the famous diva. But in doing so only realized how single-minded she had become in her perpetual tug back and forth for power. Perhaps her greatest leverage would be like in self defense classes when they say to use the perpetrators weight against them by pulling instead of pushing back. Exhausted, she felt she had already tried everything but was willing to go another round at least. Most likely she would not win in any traditional definition with this prima donna. The progress she did make was to make her aware that Sandra saw all of her guised indiscretions. Sandra was so bold as to call her on a fresh one in a face to face discussion on the floor, mano a mano – calmly and respectfully of course recently. Please don’t do this because this is how it affects everyone negatively, she pleaded, carefully laying out specific logic, trying not to allow too many emotions show lest the bully smell her fear.

This resulted only in the woman using the Trump card, meaning the Donald Trump. Bending reality, turning facts around, making Sandra the bully. That’s the way the story was told to other coworkers and a manager in the upcoming days. That Sandra had made her feel uncomfortable, was the word, a vague uncertain term that is enough to scare a company these days into doing idiotic things. And a word after hearing repeated gave Sandra a little kick in her step. Thank goodness, no one is on their toes at this location and it was all ignored and quickly forgotten. And it explains how bullies could be in residency for years. Regardless, even though it was not enough to be considered a victory at least Sandra shook her, got her ruffled enough to garner a response. Maybe in the end, that’s all Sandra will get for all her hours spent trying to sustain an honest, non-hostile work space. No fanfare, no big shifts in conduct, but in bed at night when those bullies are alone with themselves, they must acknowledge there was a girl that they perceived as weak and vulnerable, who saw them, really saw all of their bullshit and without harming or threatening them back, simply shoved their nose in it. Put up a mirror and showed them the ugly choices they made on the day to day to breed such cancerous conditions. Not only that but guess what, it didn’t give them any real power over truth or reality because anyone who had eyes could always see right through it. Whatever they believed they won each time was only sad and pathetic wishful thinking. How they chose to move forward was out of her control and possibly not even important.

Sandra had recently sought refuge and sympathy from her old manager, Jimmy. Young with a slight case of ADHD, he was never a good listener but she was desperate after her most recent skirmish. So, in the hall one day she stopped him and went on to explain several recent offenses that had gone unnoticed and his response baffled her. He didn’t get riled, only spoke quietly, Oh wow, sounds like the same old shit. Why do you stay? Hey, why don’t you apply for one of these positions popping up, I’m sure you’d get any of them. I can’t imagine staying, I get anxiety just thinking about it. That night, although she knew he was right, any sane person gets the hell out of there pretty quickly, the more pressing question was the latter. Why did she choose to stay?

After lengthy deliberation Sandra thought maybe was able to answer the question that her ex-boss had posed. What felt real in her head was that somewhere in time she agreed to some vague planetary contract, similar to that of her simple agreement with her retailer. Whether this was her war or not, she had been previously drafted to fight a few tours of duty in the world. She considered this and decided that was purpose enough and a type of choice, in fact sort of noble to be a nameless soldier fighting witness-less battles. This was quite settling, for the moment.

Throughout her life, she definitely bore plenty of bully blows. She was sick of just taking it all the time, allowing people to treat her poorly, or just get away with mean-spirited shenanigans on her watch even when it wasn’t directed at her. Just being a silent witness one minute longer felt like it was holding some complicity. It wasn’t all for naught either, Sandra was successful in handing back at least two duffel-bags full of bad behavior and mistreatment right back to the direct descendants of its rightful owners, in the grand scheme of things that is. She carried romantic notions that perhaps this was something she had allowed herself to shoulder for them, her ancient perpetrators, lifetime after lifetime, never wanting to bother with defending herself against their senseless hooey and finally reached her tolerance level.

But she had another more unsettling idea days later that maybe there is no actual reason for anything past the moment it is happening and to constantly look for drawn conclusions just reveals lack of high level consciousness. Still, there seemed to be a direct connection between cracking this nut and moving on to the next adventure where fun might live.

Sandra continued working but retired all concepts of competition. She wouldn’t be pushed but certainly no longer interested in remaining in any imaginary match. She didn’t understand how to get out of her self-made arena but she knew that getting off of the floor would be the first step.

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