Monday, April 29, 2013

A tooth ache, a hostage situation, and a food kitchen worker who doesn't give a shit.

I had a dentist appointment, regular cleaning and checkup, this passed Thursday.  Four days ago.

It was a six month appointment so I had long since forgotten about it until the dentist's office called up to remind me and my mother of our appointments (she gives me a ride so it works better if they're back to back.)  I was glad to learn of it because I had noticed a bit of a toothache cropping up.

When we got there we had our choice of which went first and since my mother was scheduled first I said she might as well.  What I didn't realize at the time was that hers was the last appointment before the dentist went on vacation.  Quite literally.  He was out of the building by the time I was into the chair.  If I'd known that the order we took our appointments was going to be the determining factor between dentist and no dentist I probably would have said toothache takes precedence.  My mother wouldn't have minded, she offered to let me go first if I wanted to.

As was I didn't even have a chance to mention the toothache until after the dentist was gone.  The oral hygienist (I think that's the title) couldn't find anything wrong on the outside so an X-ray was taken.  But she's not certified to interpret that, though based on past experience I bet she could do it just fine, and the X-ray is waiting until the dentist returns tomorrow.

The toothache has gotten exponentially worse.  I mean that in an at least semi-literal fashion.  There is nothing linear about it's progression.  Four days ago it was, "Maybe there's something wrong, maybe there's not."  The next day it was, "There is something seriously fucking wrong here!" by the time we reach today...

My cheek is swollen, my first teacher of the day thought I'd been punched in the face.

Without painkillers I'm in constant pain, sometimes (as now) even with them.  When the painkillers wear off it is instantly capital letters, "FUCK!" noticeable.  Touching the tooth will cause even worse pain.  I cannot close my mouth, not even when I chew, if I do then I seriously think excruciating is an apt description and I usually don't.  (Being nailed to a cross and left out to die of exposure seldom has everyday things comparable to it.)

The pain from my tooth has expanded.  It has driven straight up the side of my skull leaving a line of pain in its wake until it reaches my temple where it has set up a colony.  There can be no doubt that the tooth hurts the most, but whoever heard of a toothache creating a headache?  Probably lots of people, but never me.

Waiting in this pain because once the charity of others could get me pain killers but when those wore off I found myself in a class full of people as ill prepared as me my ride took nearly two hours to arrive.

In that time many besirened police cars seemed to come from all directions going to where I knew not.  This will matter in two paragraphs.

When my ride arrived the driver and destination were not what I expected but it was explained that this was the only thing that could keep me from waiting even longer.  I immediately went for the pain killers kept in the car.  I'd long since filled a water bottle in preparation for this moment.  And so we went off to pick up pig food from the resource center were hungry people get their food.  (This is food no longer fit for human consumption, but still good enough for pigs.)  The place sets aside food specifically for my sister the pig farmer.  We'll get to why that is in a moment.

The way was blocked.  Police cars everywhere, yellow crime scene tape, so forth.  I told you the police cars would matter.  Parking in a no parking zone my sister went to talk to a cop and see if another angle of approach could get her to the pig food.

Turned out there was a hostage situation, more than that I cannot say, as far as I know it is ongoing.

Taking a very strange route we were able to get to the front door (usually pig food is taken out the back but the back was in the cordoned off area.)

My sister negotiated with a cop to allow us to leave the car unattended in another no parking area while we went through the front door to get to the pig food.

Hostage crisis info ends here though I should point out that a phone call that went like this:
Sister: Do you still live on [specific street]?
Aunt: I'm ok.
took place between the two.  You don't need to ask why someone wants to know what street you live on when your street is the site of a hostage situation.  Thus "yes" or "no" was unnecessary and my aunt skipped that.

Into the food place we go, passing many people there to get food for themselves because it's a food place and cop cars all around don't stop people from needing food.  I do wonder if the decision of exactly where to cordon of took that into account.  A few feet more and it would have cut people off from their food.

So, place full of people who need food, long line to get food.  This matters.  This is important.

Get to the back door and there's no pig food.  What the fuck?

Seriously, what the fuck?

At this point it might help to explain something about spoiled food.

Bread and produce are different things.  Shocking I know.

Setting aside bad bread for pigs is not nearly as taxing as setting aside bad produce because when the produce goes it fucking goes.  You have to pick that shit up every single day.  Otherwise it will be extremely foul and in its extreme foulness it will foul the good food which means less food to give to the hungry for which the food sections of the Preble Street Resource Center exist in the first place.

And so when my sister, known to the people at said Resource Center as "Jen the Pig Farmer" came to them asking if they'd be willing to set aside the pig-edible portions of their refuse for her pigs they explained that they'd tried the damn pig farmer thing and it had failed.  It had fucked with their resources and made them less able to feed the hungry humans.

It had failed because past pig farmers had not kept of their end.  They'd picked up pig food whenever they damn well felt like it and you can't do that if you want to feed the human beings in the front.

My sister proposed an agreement.  Unlike past pig farmers she would pick up the food like clockwork (a promise she maintained through her pregnancy I might add) thus never fucking up their resources.  If she failed, they'd cut her off immediately, but if she kept on doing it then things would be the way they were supposed to be the first time Preble Street had tried to help pig farmers.

This created a symbiotic relationship.  Jen disposed of a portion of their refuse free of charge, the pigs got fed at only the cost of gas.  But it was a symbiotic relationship that balanced on the edge of a knife.

If Jen stopped being so regular in picking up the produce things would be fucked up, the center would be less able to feed human beings, general shittiness.

If Preble Street stopped producing not-fit-for-human but fit-for-pig produce on a regular basis Jen would need to look elsewhere for pig food and, once an elsewhere was located, wouldn't be able to take Preble Street's refuse.  Produce would foul, resources would be sub-optimally applied, the center would be less able to feed human beings, general shittiness.  Or, if she couldn't find an alternate source, the pigs would starve, in which case she wouldn't need the refuse, see above.

Both sides had to keep up their end.

That's why she had to be known as not just any pig farmer but the pig farmer Jen.  Otherwise some other pig farmer would come and steal the food set aside for her and her alone (this had happened) and screw up the delicate balance.

In fact, after their general fuckiness before, most pig farmers weren't allowed back in at all.  One was, but on the condition he only ever take bread.  Anything else would be considered outright theft and illegal as well as assholic.

Which brings us to today.  Both the resource center and the hostage situation blocking the road in and the back door represent life or death situations.  The police were there in force and keeping all others out because fast death was possible.  The kitchen was there because slow death, by starvation, was possible.  Either way, people could die.

And that's what it comes down to really, someone fucks up and there's the potential that that would lead to people dying.  That's the atmosphere this took place in and that's the truth of the matter.  Fuck things up and it isn't certain people would die, but it's a hell of a lot more possible than it was before the fuck up.

Other pig farmer, the one specifically only allowed to take bread, came by and stole all the food before we arrived.  Literally stole it.  Not took without asking, not made a mistake.  After having it explained in no uncertain terms that this was not his and he is not allowed to take it he came into the building, grabbed the stuff that was not his, and took it.  That's textbook stealing.  Some people do it with stereos and TVs, others do it with produce.

He wasn't there.  His theft complete he'd hightailed it.  Possibly before the hostage situation even began, but definitely in full view of the worker who didn't give a shit.

Which brings us to the worker who doesn't give a shit.  Remember why the Resource Center stopped dealing with pig farmers in the first place.  The pig farmers were unreliable and as a result it fucked with their ability to optimally feed the humans who came to them for help.  They only restarted dealing with pig farmers because my sister was reliable and then the produce was set aside solely for my sister because she was the only one reliable enough to deal with it.

Worker who doesn't give a shit knows this.  Worker who doesn't give a shit knows that letting the wrong pig farmer pick up the food set aside for Jen the pig farmer will disrupt the delicate balance, lead to them being less able to feed the hungry, and eventually cut off dealing with pig farmers all together.  Once it is cut off, the hungry don't suffer too much, but until it is cut off the center is less able to feed the hungry.

Fucking up the pig farmer system means that those people eating out front, those people waiting for food out front, those who have already gotten food and those who have yet to get in line are all less likely to have food.  That's why they cut off pig farmer dealings entirely before.  The kitchen at the resource center does not exist to be a free place for pig farmers to get their food.  The kitchen at the resource center exists to feed people who don't have enough food.  Any dealings with pig farmers that lessens their abilities to do that is, in the eyes of the kitchen at the resource center, bad.  So bad they will cut the pig farmers off entirely if need be.

Humans are their primary concern.  Unless you happen to be worker who does not give a shit.  He said in as many words, but slightly different so you might need a thesaurus to get the full gist of it, that as far as he's concerned the human beings out front can go hungry and the reliable pig farmers can go fuck themselves so long as it means he doesn't need to pay attention.

Which brings up an interesting question: What is this guy who vocally made clear that he does not care about feeding the hungry, doing at a place that exists solely to feed the hungry?  Why is he there.  Why did he go out of his way to make sure that male pig farmer could steal food that was not his with impunity at the cost of the efficacy of the feed the hungry humans operation?  Why is he actively and intentionally undermining a feed the hungry's place's ability to feed the hungry.

The last time someone put his policy of not giving a shit into effect things went so horribly wrong that Preble Street decided they never wanted to deal with pig farmers again because it took such a toll on their "help the humans" operation.  Yet here he is trying to do the same thing again.  Actively trying to fuck up the operation he works in.

As I said above (23 paragraphs up, count them and tell me if I got that wrong): Seriously, what the fuck?

The only answer that I've been able to come up with is that it gave him an opportunity to be a condecending ass to my sister.  One week to the day after she gave birth but still, while in fucking labor, made sure that someone would be there to pick up the produce and thus hold up her end of the bargain she has this asshole looking down his nose at her and telling so many baldfaced lies I lost track.  Not kidding, I can't give you a count, he told that many.  And it wasn't a very long meeting, it's just that he crammed in as many as he could fit.

Which brings up another question, is that why he works there?  Is he feeding the hungry not because he thinks the hungry should be fed but instead because he likes looking down at them?  Is he only there so he can make everyone who walks through that door feel lesser than they really are?  Is his purpose to make those who need food feel like pieces of human excrement?

I don't know.

What I do know is that he made it absolutely clear that he doesn't give a shit if the center feeds less people less well because of his actions.  He made it very clear that he doesn't give a shit.  Not just about pig farmers, not even mostly about pig farmers.  His scorn and condescension may have been addressed at my sister, but his utter apathy towards whether something went hungry or not was not directed at my sisters pigs.  No, that he made sure to direct at the human beings out front being fed.

There is a degree to which intent doesn't matter.  If he never lets the people being fed know that, behind the scenes, he vocally does not give a fuck whether they starve or not then that doesn't hurt them.  And if he keeps is ill intent from hurting them then the work he does will help them except for the fact that he seems intent on repeating the previous pig farmer catastrophe (but, again, that only hurts for a limited time after which all ties to pig farmers will again be cut.)  So the fact that he is an asshole who doesn't give a shit about the human beings being fed may not matter.  It may be entirely confined to back rooms where the human beings being fed cannot here him.  Where the people do not know of it and cannot be harmed by it.

If that is the case then him working there is a good thing because the work he does, whatever it may be, goes toward feeding those people.

But there is a degree to which intent does matter.  If his utter apathy toward the people being fed is picked up on by the people it could damage their self worth, if it is spread to other workers it could damage the functioning of the center, if it is allowed to affect his own work it could damage the functioning of the center.

And that leads me to my closing point:

Preble Street is not without problems but it is a good place with a noble purpose.  It deserves better than assholes who don't give a shit.  Even if the only time he ever has indicated and only time he ever will indicate that he could care less whether the center's patrons go hungry was when only my sister and I were in earshot that doesn't change the fact that he is still the asshole who made it vocally undeniably clear that he gave not one iota of a shit about the people the center exists to help.

It's a times like this that I wish I carried a tape recorder on me.  I'd leave out everything about pig farming and just play for every single person who ever served so much as one bowl of soup there the part where he made clear that his attitude towards the people the center helps is that they can go fuck themselves.

The pig farming doesn't matter.  I mean, it does, but my sister will find another source of food for the pigs if necessary.  Preble Street isn't her only source so she doesn't need to replace an entire pig diet and damn if she's not resourceful.  Whether or not my sister can see it clearly now, the pigs will be fine regardless.

But the center exists to help people, this asshole made clear he doesn't care about the people.  That matters.

The possibility of death at the slightest miscalculation was in the air not just because if there's not enough food some of the people might starve but also because right outside the doors, right outside the windows, was a hostage situation with police cars from the whole city there, complete with their complement of police, to make sure no one made such a miscalculation.

And with that in the air a man a an institution devoted to feeding hungry people made it absolutely clear he didn't give a fuck about feeding hungry people.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks there's something wrong with that.


  1. There is something VERY wrong with that. I've seen similar attitudes before, sadly. The "I don't give a shit about the people that it is specifically my job to help." I think a lot of them DO get those jobs just so they can look down on others.

  2. Get well soon.

    It's a times like this that I wish I carried a tape recorder on me.

    You'd still need to realise in time that this was a situation worth pressing the "on" button for. I do carry an audio recorder (built into my MP3 player), but it boots slowly. From beginning to reach for the pouch at my hip to pressing "record" is...*checks* 54 seconds. (Oh, I can get it down to 19 if I eject the microSD card and leave it half sticking out. Still.) My recordings are thus often missing the beginning of the thing recorded, which can be okay or very bad depending on what was in the beginning.

  3. Chris, voice notes. Assuming you have a cell phone, you can always record voice notes. It doesn't even have to be a fancy phone. I think they can all do it. At least, any made in the past five years can.

  4. Some recorders are able simply to run constantly - for example keeping a sixty-second loop until you press the button to tell it to start keeping everything.