Remain seated, do not panic

2009 February 22
by Stace

I’m not prone to panic. In general, when faced with something scary and/or overwhelming, I tend to have a quick surge of surprise, then settle down into trying to figure a way out of the situation. I suppress panic when it hits. Why? Because I’m a very fat woman.

There are a number of things you really shouldn’t do if you wish to retain any dignity while being an excessively large woman. Mincing and flouncing are two things that should be avoided. Panicking is another.

Running around in circles, while waving one’s arms in the air, and yelling “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!,” is undignified behavior regardless of your size, but being fat takes it to a whole new dimension of indignity. It’s the addition of the jiggling fat. I say, always keep the fat jiggle to a minimum, for everyone’s comfort and safety, and just general mental well-being. Therefore, panicking is out.

And yet, these days, I am occasionally feeling panic creeping into my thoughts. It’s this damned economy. Everywhere I go, everyone I talk to, everything I listen to, everything I see — it’s all bad financial news. I tell myself, we’re fine … and we are … but will it last?

One of the main reasons trucking seemed like a reasonable vocational choice for me was because it is supposed to be recession-proof. When it first got around my home town that I was going to be a trucker, I had to deal with plenty of disbelief. An old high school teacher of mine actually “harrumphed” while rolling her eyes then dismissively waved her hand at me and walked away mumbling about my going to “waste.” That one made me laugh. She’s a hoot.

Here’s what I knew and that they didn’t — I wasn’t being paid enough in the newspaper business to survive. I was sick and tired of the drain of living hand-to-mouth. I couldn’t face the thought that I’d be spending the rest of my life worrying about paying for utilities or buying a much-needed new pair of shoes. Something had to change.

I couldn’t afford to go back to school and get another degree more useful and potentially lucrative than that waste-of-parchment English B.A. I’ve got. The two fields clambering the most for employees were the health industry and the trucking industry. I could never be a nurse. Maybe I could be a lab tech or something, but that sounds ungodly boring. And besides, like I said, I didn’t have the money to go back to school, and I’d be damned if I’d borrow money to do it. I had enough problems with debt.

Hedon was already driving, so I joined her. Seemed like a no-brainer. And it’s gone really, really well. Thanks to trucking, I paid off my old student loans, as well as other debt. My degree certainly wasn’t ever going to accomplish that feat.

I’ve been pleased with my decision to become a trucker. It’s given me what I expected. Until now.

I can’t express how slow freight is right now. We have never been left sitting the way we are left now. Usually, we are begging off of loads, now we are considering begging for them. And we would, too, except there’s nothing dispatch can do. There’s just very little freight. And from what I hear, it’s only going to get worse.

So I try not to panic. I think to myself, They Who Must Not Be Named are doing fine. They won’t fail and cut thousands of us loose on a job market where it’s actually getting difficult to find a good driving job with a respectable company. It’s just smart for them to close down terminals, cut shop hours nearly in half, and stop paying for some of the extras they used to pay for. It doesn’t mean they’re in trouble. They’re just being smart.

And if TWMNBN decided to lay off some folks, why would they lay off Hedon and I? We never complain about too few miles. Wouldn’t that be a reason to keep us? In May we’ll have worked here for two years, and that’s not insignificant in trucking companies with annual turnover in excess of 100%. Would two years be enough to keep us off the chopping block?

These are things I didn’t think I would have to worry about when I started trucking. Right now, it’s pretty bad. But what pushes me toward that feeling of panic is thinking about the future — the one that’s supposed to be so much worse than the present.

I’m okay right now. These feelings are fleeting, and easily quelled. What I hate about them the most is that I’m having them at all. They are brief return visits to my not-so-distant past, when I spent 99% of my time stressed and losing sleep over whether the bills would get paid that month. No, no, no. Don’t want to go there again.

I think what may be best for me is another ostrich act like I pulled during the eight years of Bush-idiocy. No news for awhile. No doom and gloom predictions. Cut expenses and let what is out of my control remain there. Might as well leave it there — it will happen with or without my worrying over it coming to be.

Still, I was driving through Texas the other day and passed an abandoned town next to the interstate. The old stone buildings were crumbling, and had been for what I would guess to be several decades. And I wondered, is this where we’re headed? And are the abandoned construction sites I see out there every day, only a harbinger of what might happen to currently living business and residential districts? What would it be like to drive through some abandoned suburb?

All right. Deep breath. Do not panic. Get mad. Get mad at the fuckers who raped all of us peons. Get mad at the human scum who apparently were correct in thinking that they could have a gang bang on our financial futures without us making them pay for their pleasures. And get mad at us for not storming Washington and demanding their pilfering heads on a platter. Mad at us for asking the dickheads who ruined us, to save us.

Oh hell. I don’t really want to go there, either. It’s no better a feeling, and it’s every bit as meaningless. Historically speaking, it will take far more than this to get the mass of peons worked up enough to rebel and whip out the guillotines. We’ve still got our TVs and cars and beer (apparently we don’t have to have houses). There will be no retribution anytime soon.

Screw panic. Screw mad. Better to be the ostrich.

10 Responses
  1. 2009 February 22

    Yeah, we are seriously hunkered down on this thing…watching every financial move we make like a couple of hawks. I am personally far beyond angry or disappointed. Am looking for some kind of local organization to join in that is all about demanding responsibility. If there isn’t one, I’ll probably start one. I.Have.Simply.Had.It.

  2. 2009 February 22
    Belledog permalink

    Stace: you have ESP with this post. I will email you further on that point.

    Pour yourself a Diet Coke, take a deep breath, give Maggie and Hedon a hug — in whichever order — and, if you are not driving today, please go see “Slumdog Millionaire”, if you have not already seen it.

    Saw the first showing today — realized it’s Oscar night; for once, they’ve got a bunch of excellent, excellent movies in contention, and I had not seen a one.

    Slumdog is as good as you have heard, and possibly better. Incredibly creative use of film.

    Sending all 3 of you a hug over the miles. And off to the 2:45 showing of “The Wrestler.” In the grip of Oscar movie mania. The matinee showings are affordable.

    Tomorrow we storm the barricades.

  3. 2009 February 22

    Stace, you hit it out of the park with this one.

    I dug out “Atlas Shrugged” after your recommendation. I’ll get to it next. But right now I’m reading Thom Hartmann’s “Screwed”. You have to read it. You have to. Very rational, very concise and to the point. When you finish it you will have exactly the information you need not to panic and not to have to be an ostrich.

    Mongolina Girl has it right. It is time for us to demand that the politicians in this country start representing those that elected them instead of the rich contributors to their campaigns. Time for us to get involved and DEMAND accountability. The Rethuglicans who are screaming about spending by Obama need a reality check; where the hell were they as the Shrub spent BILLIONS on his war to make Halliburton and Blackwater rich and to enable the all-holy corporatocracy to hijack our country?

    Time for us poor folk to start taking names and kicking ass. Time for some of those thieves to be yanked out of their mansions and tarred and feathered. It is time.

  4. 2009 February 22
    Belledog permalink

    what Decorina said!!

  5. 2009 February 23

    The beauty of the Kindle — just bought “Screwed.” Thanks for the recommendation, Decorina. Look forward to it.

    You’re in our area, MG. If you find a group, let us know. We’ll join.

    Thanks, Belledog. On Hedon’s computer right now, but will check e-mail later.

    Is “Slumdog” out on DVD? I don’t go to theatres — no smoking=no fun for me.

    And OH MY GOD it pisses me off so bad when the Republicans go on about the spending, as you said, Decorina. I am flabbergasted at their gall.

    In conclusion, my feelings today on this whole economic mess is — FUCKERS! Not doing so well with anger management today.

  6. 2009 February 23

    You will love “Screwed”. I was so amazed at Thom’s way of getting to the point and presenting the facts. I’m reading it for the second time.

    I have had entire months of problems with my anger management. Time, I think, for me to do something with it. Not sure what, yet, but I’m going to do something. I hate what the Rethugs have done to this country and only when the rest of us get involved to affect change will things, in fact, change.

    Or I could just strangle something. I kid.

  7. 2009 February 23
    punxxi permalink

    Well, batten down the hatches as you bury your head! Since my husband has a B.A. in economy, I take his judgement over any flippin’ newreader/writer. If you think the stupid government can throw money at this situation to fix it, think again, and then buy real estate. You knkow as well as I do that this so called”bail out” money is coming out of your pockets and mine, not any government stooges.This fanny mae and freddie mac crap has been going on for years, it was basically blackmail from the government to make lending institutions leand money at rediculous rates to people that would never qualify for the loans otherwise…and then people that had no business buying a home in the first place, bought homes they couldn’t pay for whent the arm went up. You can find old Barneys quote at the time that “it is a way to make affordible housing”. Now you get to pay for it.
    and even tho i know that bush was a dipshit president the main people involved were not republicans. i do blame bushie for not getting involved and stopping this crap when he was in but that was then and this is now. i am retired don’t think i love watching my 401 disappear, but at least i will be able to collec social security in a year and a half
    Sorry for the diatribe.

  8. 2009 February 24

    Well, you wouldn’t be able to collect social security if Shrub had been able to convert it to a 401K invested in the stock market. Not because they didn’t try, but because they couldn’t get that particular scam by the voters.

  9. 2009 February 25
    punxxi permalink

    you may be right Decorina :o )

  10. 2009 February 25

    Decorina, I was surprised to see that Thom Hartmann also wrote the ADD book that changed Hedon’s life. In fact, she read many of his books years ago when she was first diagnosed. It made a huge difference for her, and how she looked at ADD, basically using ADD to your advantage, rather than seeing it as a disadvantage.

    Punxxii, diatribes always welcome. Been known to do a few myself, obviously. :-)

    As for the bailout, well, damned if I know what good it will or won’t do. This has long since gone way over my head.

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