Part 6 “Leaving”
As I've already said, I left on July 2nd, 2017. The 2nd was a Sunday, and that Friday my father snuck into town with his truck and a Uhaul. We left early Sunday morning, as it'd always been at least an eight-hour drive from where my folks lived in Illinois to where the clinic was, and we didn't want to have to find the place where the Uhaul was due back literally in the middle of the night. I worked that Friday and Saturday, and worked quite hard on those two days to be able to get out “earlier” on Saturday. Or, when my shifts were “actually” supposed to end is DA could ever show up on time.
Like I'd mentioned, DA remained utterly committed until the end that somehow, someway of finding a means to convert the zounds of Groupon customers we had into actual paying customers. Subsequently, our business pretty reliably reflected how near or far we were from the latest Groupon release, with a gradual dwindling of people over time as DA had to incrementally raise the price to justify the repeated runs. Right before I'd left, we were decidedly in a slump. DA did know my “dad” was coming into town, but didn't find out why until I had crossed over the border of the state the clinic was in during the trip back. When I did decide I was far enough from the clinic I promptly pulled over into a gas-station and shot off a quick text detailing that I was quitting, that my decision was final, and my notebook which contained all of the passwords for the computers/programs the clinic had been using was left at the desk. I figured this would be the only and last time I would ever be able to get away with breaking up with an employer “ethically” via text message, and you've got to seize those opportunities as they come.
Now, I've mentioned that prior to the clinic and DA, I'd had an unfortunate amount of experience being in situations with narcissists where they decidedly have leverage over me, and subsequently, didn't really plan to say much when DA called me following said text. My experience with those types of people is that whatever it is you may think you're going to say, it won't change their mind or behavior. Because if you talking to them ever could have, you wouldn't have to plan for months beforehand the EXACT moment you were going to escape them. DA was pretty much in stitches, and quite surprised, and I don't really blame them. Up until that moment, I endeavored to be nothing less than the best employee I could, even though I was being abused by my employer. I played the long game, and did my best to ensure they would never think I was anything less than totally loyal, because I didn't think I'd much have the strength for the alternative.
I gave a lot of one-word responses during that phone call, and re-stated when asked why that I left because I thought the way they were running the clinic was outrageous, and that if community acupuncture on an affordable sliding scale wasn't going to be at the clinic, then neither would I. When I did actually start feel some real words rise up in me during that phone call(because DA at one point blamed POCA for all of their problems, and started trying to “explain” to me why affordable sliding-scale acupuncture “didn't work”), as if on cue my phone almost immediately cut out. It was still able to send and receive texts, but couldn't seem to make or accept any calls(fools and children, n' such). DA then switched to begging me to stay via text-messages, but gave up once I'd told them that I was about three-hours into an eight-hour trip well out of state to somewhere far away from them, and the embarrassing failure they had turned the clinic into.
The whole trip back, that phone call included, I did my best to remain totally alert for what surely would be the One Last Thing That Goes Wrong. No one gets out of those kinds of situations without sacrifice, and I was going to be ready, because escape by any means from the clinic and DA was the only thing left that could keep my consciousness from shattering under the weight of what everything had become.
And, I did actually get one last “surprise” before finishing my long trek to safety.
At one point during said last phone call just a bit before my phone gave out, DA suddenly became a bit confessional. They confided that a lot of what they did with and at the clinic wasn't necessarily because it's what they “wanted” to do, but because that's what they thought would make the people around them happy, and make them think DA was this great person. DA said how they'd never even heard of “Floatation Therapy” until their partner had brought it up to them, and that they mostly tried so hard to execute the tryng-blarghfut tanks in the clinic because of how excited it made their partner at the time. The idea of the clinic transitioning to a “Multidisciplinary Some-Such-And-The-Other” overall was another idea of their partner, one that said partner had “allegedly” been talking about with the 2nd owner before they fell ill. DA never really figured out if that was at all what actually happened, but again, it's what they figured would make their partner happy, so they tried it.
I should mention, that DA complained CONSTANTLY about how expensive and bothersome the CA was to maintain. They wanted to “make money”, of course, and CA felt like this extra appendage they had to deal with while they built the rest of their Frankenstein's Monster of a spa. Wouldn't you know, that was as-well something they did because they thought it would endear them to all the people at the clinic they met via their partner. They thought it would make them look like a really “Good”(Ha) person if they decided to try and keep the vestiges of the clinic's social mission as they mucked with everything else. It was the only reason they kept trying to trudge along with that, in addition to building a spa they didn't much care for, too. DA said, rather, plainly, that if they knew everyone involved was all going to inevitably just “Get mad and leave them,” they would've moved the whole operation an hour up the highway into a more affluent neighborhood closer to where they lived. You know, use the reputation of the clinic to make some “real” money in an environment with the necessary amount of upper-class people to sustain something like “Floatation Therapy”.
Maybe it was the at that point chronic level of fatigue and dissociation I had relied on to get me through those last few months, but hearing all of that come tumbling out of DA's mouth felt a bit, sublime. It all made *sense*, finally. I can still recall the angle the sunlight was hitting my car in that moment as heard DA explain all of that, how the rays of light looked passing through the trees.
Finally, I felt like I'd reached a real understanding of what exactly it was I had just been through,and in turn, a real understanding of EXACTLY what kind of “D”umb-“A”$$(do you get it now?) I had been dealing with from the start.
And, that was pretty much *it*. I was done with the Worst Job In POCA, and I was headed back to something which was a helluva lot closer to “home” than where I was driving from.
Honestly, I could go on quite a bit more, but I'm not going to. Like I'd said waaay back with my first entry, I don't want this to turn into something morbid, I want to try and as much as possible center the clinic and provide space for the good people I encountered who were a part of it. As outrageous as that may seem, theses six(as of this typing) blogs about what I went through are really more the “Essential Cliffnotes” reading of what all had happened.
Regardless, I'm done, and there really isn't anything else practically worth sharing beyond this point.
for one-last story…
The more attentive of you listening from home who may have overhead me tell this story before in-person, may have noticed a certain key *omission* of a particular anecdote. The thing which I practically confess any time I start talking about what I went through at my old clinic. Something which I really, truly(really, I am actually stepping out of character for at least this statement) believe will HAUNT me until the end of my life.
But first, some quick backstory.
So, this DA I had to deal with fancied themselves a bit of a “Shaman”(as I believe I've already mentioned, this DA was decidedly “White As The Driven Snow” in terms of racial make-up). Equally attentive viewers may have noticed over the past few years an odd spat of white folks appearing through cracks in the floor and all at once calling themselves “Shamans”. Something called “Core Shamanism” is largely what's to blame in terms of the problem these days. It's the creation of Michael Harner, a fellow who for a while in the late 50's and most of the 60's(according to Wikipedia) arguably did some actual academic work investigating different indigenous cultures in South America. By the late 70's, however, Harner had basically abandoned academia in favor of his own “Universal Theory of Shamanism”, opening his own “Center” for studies into “Shamanism”, and then publishing a book about his over-generalized cultural-appropriations in 1980. Basically, he thought he could Shaman, and you could, too, via his weekend courses! Obviously, this more than appealed to white-collar burn-outs for whom the hole in their being left over by capitalism had started become just a little too upsetting(Read: exactly up this DA's wheelhouse).
DA I guess had done well enough in white-collar before wrecking the clinic that, prior to owning the clinic, hadn't actually “worked” in ten years. Ostensibly, they spent a good portion of those ten years taking and re-taking the weekend classes, and was always happy to announce themselves as a “Shaman” whenever they could reasonably get away with it. Even to the point ofannouncing themselves as a “Shaman” in front of one of the clinic's volunteers who was an actual indigenous person, which isn't righteously shameful to hear someone was stupid enough to do as another white person AT ALL!
After the clinic at the final location got going, this DA started running a “Shamanic” session in the clinic every other week. Basically it was just a drum-circle where only DA drummed while the rest of us were meant to ostensibly sit there an contemplate all of the decisions which we'd made which had brought us to that point, while DA burned some stuff which always set off my allergies. Thankfully, however, it didn't involve the DA doing any singing.
So, okay, with that aside, we'll get into what fucking SHATTERED my brain, now.
So, it's about five days from when I was about to leave. The clinic was quiet, it was just myself, that DA, and the only float-client DA had that reliably paid for all of the floats they got. I want to emphasize this, said client was practically a “Unicorn” client by virtue of how many one-and-done Groupon clients we saw. This client tried everything, but focused on floating, came at least once or twice a week, brought their spouse in to float, and was even the only person to have bought in to DA's dumb “14 Transformation Package”.
What was that, you might think? It's pre-paying up front at a discounted rate fourteen individual float sessions, to be completed one after the other for two whole weeks. It was something DA came up with after someone at a “Float Conference” they went to off-handedly mentioned that if someone floated that often, it'd “Transform their life.”(SPOILER- about all that “transformed” with this client was becoming preternaturally fast at getting saltwater out of their hair)
So, again, all three of us are in the reception area, it's late in the day, I'm trying to get paperwork scanned into the computer, and DA and the only Unicorn they could find were chit-chatting, following Unicorn having just come out of the tank.
In the process of chatting, they start talking about “The World”(given this is America post the 2016 election), and DA off-handedly mentioned that they think it would be nice if people could learn to be more “like trees.” They explained that they had conversations with trees at different points, and the trees always remarked how they wished humans could be more “like” trees. You know, “rooted”, “open”, more “in-rhythm” with the natural world.
To further expound on their point, they talked about how trees “Didn't mind at all,” when Christmas rolled around; it just meant it was time for “Happy Human Adventures!”(LOLWUT?)
I'll never forget the look on Unicorn's face after that incredible DA said those words in that order out loud, as Unicron's brain tried to reconcile this person who they thought as a “Cool, New-Age” kind of person as an Adult who thought they could have actual, human conversations with inanimate objects. The way they immediately afterwards uncomfortably quipped, “Huh. That's pretty much a whole children's book right there, eh? Ha ha ha!”
I darted out of the room as quickly as I could with as much composure as I could muster, because lasting a moment more risked either- A) that I'd start laughing uncontrollably, or B) screaminguncontrollably. Especially given I was only a few days out from Freedom, I was sure as hell not about to let THAT be what caused me to slip up and let on to my colossal DA of a boss that they'd unknowningly been harboring a Commie this whole time.
Now, again, in summary- MY OLD BOSS THOUGHT THEY COULD TALK TO TREES! THEY THOUGHT THEY COULD TALK TO TREES! They THOUGHT they could TALK to TREES! TREES!! TREEEES!!!!
Like, I still have moments where I'd sitting there doing whatever, and it'll just rush back to me, “DA thought they could TALK TO TREES. Like, have a HUMAN CONVERSATION with a PLANT.”
And, NO, it wasn't in that weird hippie-“Spiritual”-“You gotta root your feet in the ground and feel the pulse of the world, fellow star-child,” but I mean they LITERALLY thought they could talk to trees! GAHH!!
There's so many questions. Like, can they talk to *other* inanimate things? Like, can they talk to rocks, too? What about dirt? Do they deliberately ONLY talk to trees, because it's easier than the cacophony of billions of grains of dirty trying to all communicate at the same time? Really, WHY trees? Is it because ferns are assholes? I mean, I don't know about you, but I'd sure prefer having a conversation with a tree over a fern ANY day of the week! The last time I tried to talk to a fern about something, the smug, willfully ignorant photosynthesizer just WOULD NOT STOP going on about the lamest David Icke level conspiracy-theory nonsense. Like, okay, fine, whatever, even *If*(and that's a big *If*) chem trails are even REMOTELY a thing, who cares? There are plenty of documented problems and injustices as a result of the inherent prejudices in our world today, and via organizing around a common cause of Liberation, actual gains to be made instead of endlessly spinning our wheels around heresay and supposition of people and things that are by design unable to prove or disprove.
But the Equisetidaen JERK just kept going ON and ON, and yeah, if not for the Ash hanging around at the time to hold me back, I probably would've really lost it. I mean, the tulips one plot over had my back, but then the person actually working at the Arboretum came up and asked me to stop because I was “Scaring the children,” whatever that even could mean in the face of such un-mitigated ignorance. Ferns, I'm telling you, “contempt prior to investigation” ALL the way to their roots…
Even then, though, as my mind whiplashes back into some kind of working order, that wasn't even necessarily the only, or weirdest, thing DA talked about. Back in January when it was mostly just this DA's friends using the float tanks, DA and one of said friends(whom we'll call F1 for a moment) started having a conversation about “Traveling Through the Spirit-World”. DA talked about how good it felt to be “there”, and how sometimes they felt like they'd never want to “leave”. DA was worried because another friend of theirs(called F2) seemed to be spending anunhealthy(by DA's standards) amount of time “there”, and that F2 was using their trips to the “Spirit World” as a way to escape their responsibilities in “this” world.
F1, who I actually had evidence to prove WASN'T the kind of screwball who would literally piss away $200,000USD on a clinic they didn't actually care about just nodded their head in agreement. “Of course I can travel to other realms of existence! Some hack deposed “Anthropologist” told me it's just like my comic books, yippeee!”
Like, how? HOW?
Like, if I could locat the exact part of my brain which upon being infected by my white-privilege makes me seriously believe THAT kind of utter tripe, I would GLADLY scratch it out with my fingernails in a HEARTBEAT. Whatever further damage that might cause, it's STILL a risk worth taking compared to the risk of becoming whatever THAT is.
So, yeah, THAT'S how it all “ended”. I discovered the person I'd been working for didn't even actually care about the business they took over, because they mostly just wanted to Look Cool in front of all of their Friends. And, apparently, someone left “The Two Towers” running on the TV at the same time they had their first LSD trip.