Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dispatches From the Edge: A Moral Dilemma Observed

In this entry Jason takes a long hard look at morality, throws up his hands and says, "What's the point?" But then he thinks better of it.

The other day I went shoe shopping. Normally I would go to Target, drop $20 to $30 and move on with my sordid affairs. But remember, life is different on the wrong side of employment. My current laze-about sneakers smell like week old garbage, so my need is dire.

I sucked it up, held my head high, and trudged into the Goodwill. I go to secondhand stores all the time, but it is a much different feeling when you're going there out of need instead of want. I have never bought sneakers secondhand, figured they wouldn't have a good selection, and of course I wasn't wrong. Their collection was weak sauce, but after a few minute's spelunking I happened on a real prospect. They were cool looking and brand name (American Eagle) and so naturally I feared the worst: that they would make me pay through the nose. Secondhand stores know when they've got a good thing, and they were charging $15 for these way decent sneakers.

I swore at the Goodwill (I'm not sure how low that is, to swear at an organization that exists to help the poor and needy, but I know it's pretty far down there). I cursed them for making my life difficult. There was no way I was going to issue that kind of jack from my wallet for used shoes when I could pay a few dollars more for brand new kicks.

Presently the devious machinations began to flow.

My first thought wasn't bad; I checked to see if the red tags were half off. No go, it was green this week. My next thought was that I could simply put these shoes on and walk out of the place.

Look, I know it's bad. I know it's ugly. I felt sullied and dirty as I felt my mind creeping into the sewer, but my powers of self-justification run so very deep. And I proceeded. I didn't want to wholesale rip them off because I didn't want to have to feel guilty about that later. Then I thought, well, hell, I could just switch the tags with a correctly priced pair of shoes. C'mon! This $15 nonsense is just not reasonable, I'm unemployed, won't someone hear my cry!?

I mulled over my options. I was feeling guilty, a leader in a church selecting how it is he's going to sin against a charity. Then I thought, "Well, I should at least try them on." Way too tight.

Crisis averted.

Now, would I really have done any of these bad things? From the bottom of my heart, no, I don't think I would have. But I'm not any prettier for it. That doesn't get me any points. I had already ripped them off in my heart. My only real motivators for not committing a simple, low-risk shoplifting operation were shame and guilt. The analogy would be that I don't want the things that keep me from cheating on my wife to be shame and guilt. I want my love for her to be my overarching motivator. If I'm ever doing a cost-benefit analysis as to whether I should do something behind my wife's back, then I'll know that I'm already in trouble, even before the first shot is fired.

(By the way, yes, your suspicions are correct: This blog just turned the corner and went preachy on your ass. Well, you know, I hope not, but obviously kinda that's what happened.)

But what's the connection? Was my love for the Goodwill supposed to sustain me through temptation? Hardly. C'mon, I'm a Christian who is trying to mean it, don't you see where this is going? It would be my love for Jesus that would hopefully be my prime motivator. The truth is that I can't really see a good reason not to slip on a pair of shoes that I happen to need that happened to be donated to a charitable organization. But God can, and last time I checked he's smarter than me. And he asked me not to do such things. The dude has done a lot for me, he always seems to be right, and I should trust him.

That's biblically based morality in a nutshell.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dispatches From the Edge: Now It's Getting Hard

Day 13:

All right, I've squeezed all of the fun that I can get out of this thing. The romantic rendezvous with unemployment is now officially over. I was able to smile and make fun of myself for almost two weeks.

Now I have to start thinking about giving up some things. The money is running out; unemployment doesn't pay nearly as well as I thought it would. After much weeping and tearing of assorted garments, I have assembled a list of things that I might be willing to give up:

1. Crab cakes for breakfast.

2. The maintenance on the champagne fountain we had installed last year. We'll keep the fountain, but the weekly maintenance package we bought runs about $250.00 a week, and it's hard to continue to justify that.

3. Private luge lessons. It was sort of a pain in the ass to fly to Whistler every other weekend anyway...

4. Vintage 8-track collection. I've been adding to it weekly and even recently rented a storage locker for them. I will at least slow down the purchases to a bi-weekly rate if not monthly.

5. Reverse eat-out regimen. Most people only go out to eat on the weekends. A long time ago my wife and I decided to eat out for our Sunday through Friday lunches and dinners so that we wouldn't have to fight it out with the commoners on Saturdays. But like I said, these are hard times, and it's a sacrifice that we're almost willing to make. As I said, this list is tentative.

Right before I went to publish this blog some blockhead asked me how it was that I was still going to pay for all of the things that I'm keeping in my life. I didn't really catch their meaning, but I realized they were saying they didn't think that I had the money to maintain the ice skating lessons, the membership to multiple country clubs, the 57 magazine subscriptions, the Starbucks barrista we have come in five times a week and so on. I just looked at him and kind of shuttered and then chuckled, in a good-natured kind of a way.

Credit cards, dummy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dispatches From the Edge: A Pictorial

A picture is worth a ton of words, and I've got a lot to say, so lets get started.

This is day #4


This is my getup for going out and
getting my morning coffee.



I decided I needed to actually
get dressed and get some work
done.


This is me doing Ripa Watch! I still can't
believe people believe her as a human.



I played Cowboys & Indians for awhile—this
is me doing a stare-down on a Indian.



I rounded out my morning by pretending to
be the pope waiving from the Vatican
off of my balcony.


And this is me waiving for foreign dignitaries.


And this is me waiving to common folk.


And this is me waiving goodbye to you!

Hell Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The return of Ken Griffey Jr. to Seattle, 10 seasons after he departed for Cincinnati, appears to be imminent. Baseball sources confirmed talks between the club and Griffey, who is a free agent.

ELAINE THOMPSON / AP

UPDATE - 11:15 AM

Griffey, M's deal appears imminent

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dispatches From the Edge: Life After Job

Today begins an in depth series, entitled "Dispatches From the Edge," on unemployment that takes a fresh, inside view of the catastrophe. Draw deeply from this first-hand account of one man's struggle to maintain his dignity and sense of hope and worth as he joins the teeming ranks of the jobless losers now swarming the nation. Swathed in a ratty, flesh-colored robe and armed with more time than any healthy man should have, our author clacks out his heart for you below.

Day 1:

Ok, I get it, you had to lay me off—but did you have to do it in front of the entire company? A company wide meeting was called. They asked me to come to the front of the room, unfurled a banner that read: "You've been laid off." Then they ceremoniously picked me up by my collar and the back of my pants and tossed me out the front door. They later apologized but said they needed to do it to boost moral for those who were allowed to stay. I get it. I do. But it still hurts.

Filed my unemployment claim within 1.5 hours of being discontinued—and no, I am not abandoning my conservative principles; I'm getting my own money back that I've pumped into the system, baby.

Day 2:

Today I setup a civil war reenactment on my half of the bedroom. It was pretty uninspired. Of course the North won, and it was just so predictable and so it was depressing.

I watched Kelly Ripa this morning do her thing; are you serious? Is this how it is in the morning? Do we really accept this from the mainstream media? I mean jeeze, she's just hamming it up, having a great time...But she's not that funny. I mean, she's really not that funny at all. And you would think that, you know, ABC could afford to go after someone with more talent.

And then it hit me: People do think she's talented. I mean, look, I know it's hard to believe, but if you watch the numbers then I think you'll see that I'm right. They've had her on for I don't know how many years, and people seem to still keep watching! So some segment of the population, for some reason, must, like, I don't know...enjoy her? Enjoy her pretentious flailings at humor; enjoy her overwrought persona and cornball antics.

I'll have much more to report on this, soon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Greatest Video Ever

By now you should have seen this, but I want to do everything possible to make sure that it gets out to everyone, so I'm posting it here. What I like most about it is the pure innocence that only a child can experience and articulate. Enjoy.