Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Questioning my life

In my early 20s, I made a decision that changed my life.

Sure, I had served in the Marine Corps from 17 to 21, and had a lot of chances to make a mess of it as others had done, but I’d navigated that minefield and avoided the bad choices that I saw others make.

Now, as a civilian again and looking to make my way in the world, I faced another choice.

A friend from my high school years had just offered me cocaine. Like a lot of people, I had smoked marijuana and didn’t think its use was the awesome crime others believed it was, but cocaine; well, that was different.

I realized that this was not the life I wanted. I turned down the offer, began to find my way and soon found a job, then another, then moved to Florida and so on.

It was the right decision, but lately I’ve been wondering. Being unemployed, you have a lot of time to wonder.

Working – and taking jobs that were mostly nights and weekends – meant no social life. Women I met through dating services – since I couldn’t meet women any other way – quickly turned me away when they found out that I’d be on the job on Friday and Saturday nights. I can’t say I blame them; they wanted a man and to go places and do things, but my schedule made that impossible.

But I kept on working and at a few points even got “weekends-off” positions but still ended up working nights. It sucked, but I felt that making a living took precedence. My closest opportunity for a girlfriend I felt was someone I met in the late 1980s who was on the verge of making a commitment to me, but backed off and chose someone else because, while he was not the most compassionate man, he worked days. I was not only working nights but also attending college during the day, and working nights was key to my school schedule.

I sometimes wonder if maybe I should have chosen the wrong path. I wouldn’t have a nice house, an interesting career, a clean record and nothing in my past to explain away, but maybe I’d have love and companionship, and the feeling that a better future was ahead of me, not behind me.

It’s weird, I know. But it gnaws at me sometimes. I was reading in the newspaper today about a program that helps ex-convicts find jobs. All the ex-cons are so self-righteous, and talk on and on about their challenges in finding a job. All I can say is, try being 48 years old, college educated and experienced, and even Wal-Mart won’t hire you to push shopping carts.

It’s tempting to say that I walked the straight and narrow for 30 years and have little to show for it right now. I sometimes even envy people who have walked on the wrong side because they can use their bad past to show others they are “making progress,” and society grades on rate of improvement, not past achievement.

I guess I’m feeling kind of down. I’ve been sending out resumes and cover letters like crazy, there have been no responses, and my bank account is shrinking slowly but surely. I feel almost like I threw my life away being a good person, and that had I taken that hit of cocaine, things might have eventually turned out better.

That’s crazy thinking, of course, but it makes you wonder.


February 17, 2009 - Posted by | Living in the modern age, The jobless chronicles | , , , , , , , ,

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