dignity is really expensive

i’m writing this at like 10 in the morning and there’s work to be done before i go into the office but i’m kinda jazzed on coffee, anxious, and i just got these two screed-like texts from my boss that are basically his version of yelling: lotsa “fucks” and “bullshit”s. he’s mad because he feels that my colleague and i leave the place a mess. but he also digresses into other matters from the past—it’s an explosion of some long-simmering issues.

but it’s flashing me back to what it was like to work with the ghostwriter, when he’d call me up after i turned something in and subject me to these punishing silences and rhetorical questions about “how the fuck is it possible” that i didn’t understand or notice some detail. accusing me of having not even tried with certain things. one time, after turning in an assignment on which i’d been working for seven consecutive hours, he called me just to tell me that the spacing i’d used (the justifying of the paragraphs, if you’re interested) makes the assignment look “like a fucking seventh-grade book report.” then he hung up.

i mentioned in that recent diary post that i saw The Irishman for a second time the other night: my favorite scene in the movie is when Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) is going on a tirade in his office because his employees let something slip past their sights and now he’s going to jail for it (this is all historically documented and it happens in like the first of three and a half hours, it’s not a spoiler).

well, Hoffa’s got a hitman in his employ. a guy named Frank (Robert De Niro). and Frank’s just idling in the back of the room during this tirade.

Hoffa’s calling them stupid motherfuckers, pieces of shit, etc.

eventually Frank shakes his head and walks outta the room.

Hoffa goes after him into the lobby.

Frank’s pulling on his coat and Hoffa’s saying, “Frank, what are you doing?”

Frank says, “I quit.”

“Why, what’s wrong?”

“You’re calling all of us motherfuckers. You can call those other guys motherfuckers. You’re not gonna talk to me like that.”

it rang a bell with me when i first saw the movie and then it rang that same bell when i saw it a second time. i loved it. probably for personal reasons.

i was so angry with myself, after finally confronting the ghost writer about his behavior and finding that he didn’t actually think poorly of me but was just probably insulting me so that I would think less of myself, and therefore let him go on paying me way less than i’m worth. (the catalyst for the confrontation was when he responded to yet another seven-hour assignment with one sentence. i was on the cusp of lapsing back into self-loathing behavior, telling myself i’d done a shitty job, when i suddenly got this influx of spine, and told him matter-of-factly that i was doubling my rate.)

and now of course when i get a screed-like text from an employer telling me basically that i’m a piece of shit, my first impulse is, “fuck it. quit. i don’t deserve this.”

but, of course, it’s not that simple. this morning i applied to three hospitality gigs in the area around my apartment and if i get those jobs, and start leaping headlong into ten- and twelve-hour shifts, i’m still not gonna come out of them with enough money to live.

just this harrowing reminder: behaviors conducive to self-respect aren’t always conducive to earning a living wage.

that dignity is expensive, basically.

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