My summer job (and part-time job during the school year) is as custodian /nightwatchman / sometime basic sound guy/ faux security/ quasi-roadee at my church. Which means I normally work until late hours–usually finished anywhere from say 10:30-midnight.
When I first started this job I discovered this strange pattern of getting home and be absolutely exhausted physically but I couldn’t fall asleep. My mind would be racing. Normally I hit the pillow and it’s lights out. So I came across an article where I guy said he had the same problem and he wore his shades after leaving work because the city lights were screwing up his brain thinking it was earlier in the day than it was. Throwing off his body clock.
So as ludicrous as it looks, like the man Maxwell Wyclef, I wear my sunglasses at night. And it works; I fall asleep much faster. I’ve noticed since I started doing this a few weeks ago that people were giving me strange looks. Now I expected some strange looks from the sunglasses at night thing but these were worse or weirder than I had anticipated. And then it occurred to me a couple of nights ago what it was–it was the same look I used to give skeezers on buses or subways late at night.
Now this is quite ironic given a couple of facts.
1)It’s Vancouver (i.e. BC Bud) and many a Sunday morning I have to walk (literally) through a haze of pot smoke to get to church while a bunch of hippies are badly playing drums dancing around for legalization of Mary Jane.
2)Yours truly has never ever puffed nor inhaled (contra Uncle Willy) of the marijuana in my entire life. [It would kill my asthmatic lungs….I know I know I could eat a hash cookie but I have no desire to do so].
Putting 1 and 2 together you get
3)The chances are much more likely that someone else on the bus is stoned out than me. Though I get the dirty looks. [Which is sorta fun actually]. Especially since this looking like a bombed-out icehead just actually came from a church and is studying to be a priest.
4)Lastly, the church is dusty and typically irritates my allergies a bit. Plus the chemicals we use to clean the bathrooms often make my eyes a little red, which of course perfectly fits the whole “I’m high” thing with the dark sunglasses. Dripping irony. I’m just waiting for the day some cop stops me walking home.
But anyway, so last night all the above transpires as usual. I open up a book as per my custom on the bus (with the glasses still on mind you). I was reading What Dying People Want. Now I could understand how this might fit the whole Nietzschean nihilist frame I kinda got going at this point, but the reality is I’m reading it for pastoral theology skills (i.e. how to be with people who are dying). [Ed: Or is it skillz?]
So this young woman sitting on the bus next to me asks me in a very petulant tone, “Why are you reading THAT?” Emphasis on the final word, like I had just popped open a copy of Mein Kampf or something. How stupid a question is that one? I mean why does anybody read a book? Knowledge, pleasure, whatever. Hello!
So I must have been in a particularly surly mood (I was extremely tired) last night cuz before I know it I hear myself saying out loud:
“Because I’m Dying.”
And it was out before I could put it back in. And it just hung there in the air for some moments. I’m known for some classic Midwestern acid sardonic sarcasm, but even for me this is a little much. In some ways I feel bad reflecting back on it because the look on this poor woman’s face was something to behold. In other ways, not so much on the feeling bad part. Needless to say that shut her up fast. So then of course I have to come with a story on the spot of how exactly I’m dying. [Incurable cancer–I guess that came out since that is what the book mostly focuses on. Apologies to anyone offended by that remark].
Now on the plus side, there was a moment of her real humanity coming out (after moments of shock and self-contraction on her part, understandably so)–as true sorrow on her face emerged.
So I get off the bus–the story isn’t over yet–walk home. Currently my wife and I are on completely opposite work schedules. She usually starts work at 6 am while I’m getting home at midnight or in some cases 1 am. So she’s already asleep and I always try my best to tiptoe ninja-like into the bed and not wake her up. She’s a much lighter sleeper than I am. Now she has this very adorable custom of typically laying on my side of the bed like I was there. It’s very sweet. So sweet…except for last night. Normally it’s just her arm that is slung over to my side but last night it was almost almost her whole body so yours truly not expecting an ankle where it was trips and goes shoulder first into the wall. With a nice bit of my cheek scrapping the plaster.
My karmic payback I suppose for burning that woman on the bus.
I can only of course leave you with Corey Hart: