Stress vs. Starvation: There’s Really No ContestPosted: February 26, 2012
Wow. It’s been a stressful week–what with my Blackberry seizing (RIP) and the new iPhone (ordered via my company’s website since it’s a business account) on back order. I felt like Linus with my security blanket yanked out from under me. Although I’ve got to admit, it’s a bit of a relief to be inaccessible at times. Wonder if there’s a phone dependency support group?
I also submitted a work product into a company review process that I’ve never navigated before. I was told if I didn’t annotate it properly with references, it would get kicked out and I couldn’t resubmit for 20 more days. Which of course shoots project timelines all to hell.
The biggest stressor, however, is a mandatory 6 day work training that culminates on Wednesday with a fill-in-the-blank certification test (15 questions, 20 minutes, closed book) that my failure to pass may result in disciplinary action up to and including separation. A kinder, gentler way of saying “they’s gonna fire yo ass.” Did I mention there’s over 300 pages of study material? Using words like hypercorticism and urticaria? Really. Course if they do fire me, I won’t have to worry about the aforementioned project timelines. Who says I’m not an optimist?
So when Stan and I had lunch with Jerri on Sunday and she mentioned the deposit to her EBT account was on Tuesday and could I take her to get groceries at Walmart and while we were there, could we look at microwaves because that’s what she wants for her birthday, I, uh, snapped just a little. Okay, a lot. Ten minutes later at the end of a detailed rant on my life with stress that was enjoyed by at least three nearby tables in Maggiano’s, I agreed to take Jerri to Walmart Tuesday after work.
Despite my own stuff, I made time for Walmart, because in the game of rock-stress-starvation, starvation trumps stress every time. (I believe rock pounds stress and starvation eats rock but I’m a little fuzzy on the rules.)
An interesting adverse effect of converting from a Blackberry to an iPhone is you lose saved messages. Knowing this, I replayed them one last time before activating the iPhone which finally arrived after five difficult days of mobile abstinence. The messages were mostly from Jerri, one from a time when I was taking a hiatus from returning her calls because she was making me crazy. The details are hazy so I’ve probably suppressed them. Which means therapy is likely in my future. In that message, she asks me to take her to get groceries because she’d eaten the last bit of food she had, a box of macaroni and cheese, and it was the only meal she’d had that day.
Most of us could stand a day or two without food. Jerri, however, weighs about 89 pounds when she’s soaking wet. So the girl’s gotta eat.
I don’t know what it’s like to really be hungry. I mean, I’m hungry now but all I have to do is walk the 20 feet to my pantry and there’s a whole plethora of food substances to choose from. I don’t know what it’s like to look in my cabinet and see nothing, zilch, nada. To open my refrigerator to only cold air. To walk to the shelter in the freezing rain for a meal or simply go without. Jerri knows these things. I find it deeply disturbing.
Equally disturbing is the number of people in Durham who share the same plight. I used to be somewhat blind to poverty. I could pretend it wasn’t real by simply avoiding the poorer sections of town. The sections where Jerri now lives. I can’t avoid them anymore because I have to drive through them to see her. I can’t close my eyes to the teenage boy with 6 bags of groceries standing at the bus stop in the pouring rain. Or the man without a coat, lugging a pillowcase of dirty clothes half a mile to a rundown laundromat in the Hispanic district on Roxboro. What if I stopped and gave these folks a ride? But I’m driving around in a Lexus with an iPhone attached to my ear and I’m embarrassed, even ashamed, to have so much when they have so little. I make excuses as I drive past, warm and comfortable and dry. I tell myself it’s not safe to pick up strangers but as I surfed blogs at 4 am having given up all hope of embracing the inside of my eyelids, I was reminded that I am the greatest liar I will ever know.
I don’t know what to do with all this. Maybe take a hot bath and mull it over. So today’s blog doesn’t resolve–I hope you’re not too disappointed. You can blame it on stress-induced sleep deprivation. I know I sure will.