I'm not much of a writer anymore, but here we go with a journal.
|One beauty part about retiring is that I no longer have to deal with a lot of people. I also have some choice about which people I choose to deal with, which definitely wasn't the case when I was employed in retail. Yet even with that incredible advantage, that Get Out Of Jail Free card, people problems won't go away. And it seems to me that easy access to online chatter is a big part of the problem.
Dealing with other people has never been easy for me. Now it just keeps getting weirder and weirder. And it isn't just me saying so. With jobs, schools, community meetings, and all kinds of other stuff going online, all of us have had some adjusting to do. This thing was already coming at us like a drunken bull, but this last year so much human interaction has moved online. Hard to say whether it's changing our social skills or just plain ruining them. (Note: I don't mean this site. People here are much more likely to get to know each other than users of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Nextdoor, etc.)
I find myself in conversations that go something like:
ObviousStater: "The sky is blue."
CounterpointNerd: "That's a misrepresentation that many people fall for. Scientifically, the evidence shows sky color lies in a spectrum between lavender to medium turquoise. Here are links to five article that prove this."
EverythingIsFunnyGuy: "only if it's not cloudy LOL then its white accept if your on venus then its yellow lol SNORT"
HatesEverybodyGuy: "Youre all a bunch of *@^*!&ing idiots who obviously don't realize it's night more often than daytime meaning the sky is black. You should all *%&&(@+# yourselves and go kill yourselves while you're at it!Retards!"
CounterpointNerd: "It's clearly impossible for it to be night more than half the time. Next time do some research, Neanderthal."
… By which time ObviousStater (who may or may not be me) has slunk away and disabled notifications.
Under ordinary circumstances, I'd just ignore the whole mess. But right now all my volunteer work is cancelled, no shows are showing, eating out and most shopping are locked down, classes and activities are gone, the gym is closed, traveling and visiting are verboten, and you can't even go for a hike without having to dodge off the path if you want to follow social distancing protocols. I haven't even gotten my teeth cleaned by my lovely dental hygienist Sandy in almost a year. (Next month, Sandy, next month!)
I did find one new volunteer gardening job this summer, but it involves trying to work with people. People I've mostly met only online.
Cindy has been taking care of a modest planting of flowers around the Dixon Greenway sign for years, and hadn't been able to keep up with it lately. She advertised on Nextdoor for someone to please take over the project. I said I'd be happy to.
We agreed to meet at the park, which is two blocks from my house, at 6:00. At 5:57 I was getting ready to put on my contacts, grab my mask, and bike to the park, when the phone rang. It was Cindy, asking why I was late. I apologized profusely, even though I wasn't actually late. Skipped the contacts, skipped the mask because I can't wear it with glasses because it fogs them up and anyway we were going to be spaciously outside, and got down to the Greenway asap.
After berating me for being late and not having a mask, and me apologizing some more, Cindy filled me in about the garden. She wanted to hand the project over to me, even though she'd already given it to Megan, who had the paperwork, and Megan was probably going to be all upset and jealous, but Megan was too young and not committed and . . . . . .
"Whoa whoa whoa!" exclaimed my brain, "How is there so much drama involved with this simple little garden?"
But I nodded along with this whole spiel, because Cindy said she wanted to be done with the project, and Megan had never really been active with it.
For the next month, I spent half an hour per day weeding, which since it had been so neglected was the only way to get out all the reed canary grass and other weeds. I'd dig up a square foot of soil and it'd take five minutes just to extract all the grass rhizomes. Then on to the next foot. Then watering. Because it had been weed-choked for a couple years, it needed more plants, so I added some perennials divided from my own yard, and worked with the leader of a wildflower project nearby to get some seedlings they weren't using. The city dropped off some bark mulch, which I spread. All fine and dandy, exactly the kind of cooperative, work-at-your-own-pace volunteer job I was looking for.
But Cindy didn't actually want to give up control. She made appointments to meet me twice, but never showed up to either of them. Yet she kept bitching online about how she didn't like where I'd put various plants. After agreeing I should go ahead and accept the extra wildflowers from the other project, she turned around and told me not to plant most of them because she didn't like them after all. Meanwhile the mysterious Megan, who never showed up to any meetings and I have still never met, had all the paperwork. I contacted her online a bunch of times, giving her my address, offering to go to her place (wherever that is) to pick the papers up, but apparently all I've managed to do is make her feel guilty. I still don't have the paperwork, which means whatever resources and expectations the city has for such projects are still a mystery to me. And I have no idea what Cindy will want to do next year.
The beauty part about retiring was supposed to be that I wouldn't have to deal with this kind of nonsense anymore. I'm really good at getting things done, at working fast and saving money, but terrible at these kinds of people problems.