My Furlough weekend


Multiple Personality Disorder
by Multiple Personality Disorder

I went to Nevada over the weekend to visit my brother.  My trip started on Furlough Friday in California and ended on Sunday night.  The drive up there through the mountains usually takes two hours, but when I returned on Sunday it took almost seven hours because the main highway was basically at a standstill due to too many spin offs on the icy mountainous road, there were some accidents, and delays for installing chains.  On my way back I was trapped in the roadway corridor for two hours, in between median concrete barrier and nowhere to exist, till I finally reached an animal-crossing opening in the median barrier.  I said to myself I feel like an animal at the moment, so I made a U-turn and went back to the city that I had just left two hours ago, which was only thirty miles away, and then I took a different mountainous road, a road less traveled, and after another five hours of driving in the rain and snow I finally made it back home.

My brother owns a gas station that is now failing due to the economic crisis in the State.  It is located in one of the busiest intersections of the town.  He’s been depressed for two months now, something he’s never been.  All his life he’s been one of the most optimistic people one ever meets.  He is a people’s person, gets along with almost anyone, hard working, friendly, outgoing, a total businessman who believes in free market economy.  But now, after a life time of working hard his business is failing miserably.  I estimate this month alone his store revenue is down by 60%.  He had to let go of his full time employees, only keeping two part-time ones.  He works as much as fifteen hours a day sometimes; his wife works the graveyard shift, and they do this all day, every day.  They no longer can afford any health insurance, he has cut down on any expenses he can, and sometimes he sells gas at cost just to generate some cash flow.

I went to see him to give him company and help him out with whatever I could.  While I was there I learned how to run the register.  I’ve done a lot of cashiering in my life.  It was not a big deal to learn it, but it’s prices of goods that are hard to remember.  They have hundreds of different items in the store and not everything is marked.  Some times I can’t even remember names of my colleagues; let alone prices of hundreds of items in a mini-mart store.  Sometimes business was so slow that he laid down on the floor in his office and took a nap.  He told me some nights he can’t sleep, worrying about how it is all going to end.  He repeats his options all day long, over and over again: close the door and leave, don’t pay the bills, go back to Iran, get a line of credit, get a lawyer and sue the gas supplier,…close the door and leave, don’t pay the bills, go back to Iran…  He says he came to this country with one suitcase, he’s going back home with none.

One of his part-time cashiers is a white 49-year-old guy by the name of David, who is very intelligent and articulate.  He could’ve easily been a lawyer under some other circumstances, but now he is an alcoholic bum.  My brother gives him work when he’s not drinking, but when he drinks he is off work and on his own.  He goes off for a while and comes back again several days or weeks later, clean.  When he is drinking, he begs for money at street corners.  A couple of weeks ago he chopped off some trees around the property and got some calluses on his hands and one of them on his right hand eventually got infected.  He had some swelling on his right hand on Friday morning, but still he came to work.  He said he had gone to a county medical facility and was taking some oral antibiotics for it.  Friday night the swelling had spread almost to his elbow, yet he didn’t seem to be seriously worried about it.  My brother kept telling him to go to an emergency; that the oral antibiotics would take a long time to take affect.  So, that’s what we did; I drove him to a nearby hospital.  Within an hour they operated on his hand.  I have never seen anyone, especially an indigent patient, go from emergency room to operating room so fast.  They told him if he had waited till the next day he might have ended up losing part or all of his hand.

Right now they’re pumping him with the most powerful antibiotic mixture they have, and they’re going to keep him till Tuesday, at least.  Somewhere along the way he told me he once had a 24-year old lawyer girlfriend that one day got sick and ended up in a hospital, but the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, and a week later she died of a blood infection.  I didn’t ask for more details.  She seemed to be way too young to be a lawyer at 24.  Maybe she was a smart woman.  I wondered if this happened when he was also around her age.  I wondered if they were in love; I wondered if that was the reason why he became an alcoholic bum.  It’s so awful to lose a loved one at such a young age.

His hospital room reeked with smell of blood and infection.  They drained his hand every so often; they had an irrigation tube inserted into his hand that was exposed at each end.  His nurse flushed it from one end and collected the secretions from the other end, but I can’t figure out why they left it in an open container to stink up the room.  With all the things in my brother's mind, he says I don’t want anyone to say anything bad about David.  He’s my friend, he says.

A lot of other things happened, but my attention span is about a page long; maybe a page and half. 



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more from Multiple Personality Disorder
rosie is roxy is roshan

actually i am excellent at counting change and

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

also at doing rapid calculatoins in my head. believe it or not. as for hospitals no i haven't frequented them in a long time..haven't been in one for going on eight months. in any case last time they kind of did give me a job there but it was unpaid.. so overall i'd say yes, er is the best choice. cashier is not implausible. but driver is highly unlikely unless it's on a bicycle. or me driving myself mad.

Multiple Personality Disorder

From the choices given in your question

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

I have to go by:

c) ER orderly

Because I know you don't drive, let alone a snow driver, so that's out of question, and then even though you're a professor by name I don't think you're capable of figuring out change to be be able to work behind a register.  And since you've been frequenting hospitals so much I think they might have finally given you a job there.

rosie is roxy is roshan

that is really so funny, so gallows-humory funny, that you

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

really WERE operating the register while writing the poem. As I told you I think yesterday I'd replied to you about the poem ofsite right away but it bounced back to me. I was wondering oulc you send me the first poem you wrote to your friend in reply to the snow flakes one by e-mail? I REALLY do like the one you posted and you know I wouldn't tell you so if I didn't. It's REALLY one of the better ones I've seen here.

Never heard from you about that other for indigent, well, yes, I am considered a "professor" by NAME at the college I work(ed) for, but in reality I am (was) an INSTRUCTOR. There are specific titles going up the academic eschelon: instructor, lecturor, asst. professor, assoc. professor, full professor (tenured).  I am (was) the lowest on the totem pole because Academe was never my choice of CAREER, it was my "day gig" for my career in the arts, so I never did a PhD and never competed to get a "regular faculty" position w/my Masters either. (I did NOT earn the Masters w/the intention of teaching, btw..I just did it cuz I was offered a 1981..) 

I have (had) been an ADJUNCT instructor for eight years which means I was hired on a yearly contract and paid by CLASS, not per annum.  The rate was livable but that is all. So I was on the lower end of the lowest rung on the totem pole.

When I had the accident, I could not work that semester, it happened the first day of the semester, so I immediately became unemployed (no sick leave) and lost my health insurance. So yes, I had to go to the public hospital, Bellevue, and was effectively indigent. Nevertheless...Speedy Gonzalez...

As for my current work situation..well...give ya three guesses...

a) snow driver  b) cashier  c) ER orderly.

 I am going to reply to your comment about Zeppelin on my blog ASAP. Kisses,


ps you know it's also funny how funny you thought marge's last blog was because it's obviously something cultural, i knew it was FUNNY but i just didn't find it...hysterical..but the iranians do..well..i mean those with a SENSE OF HUMOR do...

Multiple Personality Disorder

Thank you ana101, Natalia, Nazi,

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

Thank you for reading and you comments.


If you think your job

by Job Seeker (not verified) on

Multiple Personality Disorder

b, while operating a cash register

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

I used a personal computer behind the cash register counter and wrote the poem in between customers, and while my brother ran the register.

And yes, the poem has resonances of Haiku. A friend of mine sent me one about snow flakes in a desert.  I didn't know anything about Haiku so I researched it online and replied to it in the same style, and then I wrote the other one about how the quail suffered, and my brother suffered, and David suffered, and thousands more suffered while I wrote it.

An indigent professor of English literature! Wow!  Now that's what I call amazing!

Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

Almost forgot.....

by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

Too bad that I already have something scheduled for Spring Break.

It might just be worth driving to Nevada just to see you at work. I have a feeling you would be like a Woody Allen type of cashier.

 PS: They just told us the bad news on the budget situation at work. It was not good at all. Many positions will be eliminated. Those who will keep their jobs will see an increase in teacher to student ratio.

I might have to postpone graduate studies one more year.

rosie is roxy is roshan

Oh honey bunny if you have never seen an indigent

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

patient go so fast from ER to OR to get their hand operated on, you should've seen me last year. Speedy Gonzalez.

What really amazes me about your furlough weekend is that in the midst of all this turmoil you had time to write a beautiful poem about a bird that had resonances of a haiku.

It is not so much that you wrote it that amazes me since I can understand how seeing all these little human tragedies around you could make you contemplate about how suffering is really a part of nature.

What amazes me is that given how busy your weekend was, you must've written it either: a} while you were driving in the snow b} while you were operating a cash register; or c} while you were in ER with your battered friend. Or sleeping. Now that's what I call manual dexterity.

(Or maybe you wrote it BEFORE it all happened, you closet romantic you!)

No I do not think any of this is funny, it is just that for some reason all this gallows humor is gushing out of me, and well it's understandable since every moment I spend here is like waiting for the other noose to drop.

I guess I should be grateful that at least it doesn't drop from a crane.

Honestly, I truly do commiserate with you. You know I do.

Nazy Kaviani

Iranian pastimes

by Nazy Kaviani on

I realized last year that my house had lost $100,000 in value since I bought it. It meant that I owe more on my house than it's worth. On a simple balance sheet, if you owe more than you own, you are bankrupt. I wasn't a beezness-vooman or stockbroker or a daring entrepreuner--I was a state employee with a middle management job. The realization was so stark and so hard, it had me shocked for several days. I had never been bankrupt before in my life.

This is how I realized how bad the economy is, even before people started to make such a big fuss out of it. It is happening to everyone and you can see it everywhere.

The Indian salesman at the AT&T shop told me that he and his entire family of brothers and cousins had lost their homes to bank foreclosures over the past year. My heart ached for their community's devastation.

What to do, Multiple? Seems like everyone is in the middle of this giant mess. As for returning to Iran, tell your brother that returning to Iran for economic reasons is not a very good thing to do. Having lived outside Iran, he knows so little about Iran and its awful and twisted economy, he won't fare that much better there. It might be easy for me to advise "hang in there," because I know the "Iranian option" quite well and my advice is good on it. Don't do it!

So, my last "pearl of wisdom" about all of this is that things are bad and they may get worse. A depression is certainly NOT the way to go with difficult circumstances. Everybody should get together and sing and dance these otherwise sad and option-less nights away. Being there for each other doesn't cost that much, but the effect is lasting and preventive of things a lot worse. Hugs and kisses and laughter are relatively free, but they can save our sanity and give us energy to carry on.

My personal recommendation for a really good time during bad times is gathering together and playing Gol Ya Pooch. It's fun and morale building, trust me! Of course there's always Los Angeles music which can make people move it and shake their troubles away, increasing circulation and bringing about a clean, free, and fun pastime.

My two cents, and that's about all I can afford right now, the bankrupt state employee that I am!

Be good, Multiple, or at least try!

Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

Sorry to hear your family.........

by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

is doing badly. I don't know why I thought he would be spared by this troubling times

Well, if I ever go see my little brother in Nevada, I will fly there after the trouble you had getting back from Nevada

Interesting how one tragic event in David's life could have destroyed his once bright future