"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Saturday, March 22, 2008

3/22/08: Escape from Odessa-Jimmy & Steve

Greyhound between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana

Long story short: I met two other guys. Jimmy and Steve are both from Oklahoma, and after Steve was pushed for the 5th time to buy cocaine, we called Mike [recruiter] told him what was going on, and requested that he get us out of there. We all decided to ride together to New Orleans and hook up with another outfit with a friend of Mike's named Willie.

I asked direct questions and let those two listen so they could decide for themselves. Mike bought the tickets, we packed up, and while we were waiting Steve's mother called to tell him that his father had died!

Of course, that sent him back to Oklahoma. Steve's a lot like me with the indecisiveness, only worse! And much more tentative. He's just a country boy who's never been away for long, so he was apprehensive. It may have been good for him to come down here and live a little, and he still may. I sensed something familiar in him, and deeply respected his independence. The three of us had a nice synergy, and could have been good friends--all of us. I'm rather surprised at how good of friends we became anyhow. I hope things in New Orleans are as Willie and Mike say they are, and if so, I also hope that Steve comes down here in a couple of weeks.

Jimmy and I are very similar in many ways, although our backgrounds are very different. He's Chickasha Indian and abhors drugs because his son committed suicide while on them. That was the common thread between we three that got us hanging out in the first place. We were the minority who weren't looking to work then simply get fucked up up afterwards--calling that life. Wash-rinse-repeat. One of my goals/hopes was to find some like-minded people I could relate to, and after 2 1/2 days in a traveling drug-den, I found some. That's encouraging.

Jimmy's 46, and has been living with a nomadic life for some time now. He's been all over and has tons of experience that he's willing to share. He's respectful, and deserves respect. We talked a lot last night between Odessa and Dallas having much to chat about; our ideas parallel each other in many ways. Like me, he relishes freedom above most everything. We are both cautiously excited about New Orleans and since we have the night off, and a little money, are planning on Bourbon Street later tonight.

To put a bow on the Odessa experience, they did pay us what they owed us, minus $15 for "rent" in the bunkhouse: another monetary surprise. In retrospect it was fitting! Outside of the drug culture, the main theme of that outfit was the fact that they found new and exciting ways, everyday, to surprise you with new ways to shrink your paycheck! "Paying the bus ticket", "security deposit", "key deposit, shirt, etc.... none of which was explained beforehand. Then condescending and indignant when you asked questions. No leadership. People screaming and knife fighting and 5 a.m. outside the bunkhouses. (I was more concerned with the screaming--if someone was cut, eventually they'd at least be quiet) To be fair, it is the stereotype and not completely unexpected; just not for me.

Despite all that, I told Jimmy last night I wouldn't trade it. I did meet some good people, and most importantly I didn't run home, although the thought did occur to me Thursday! I got through it and found that I enjoyed the actual work--when the public's there. I made a little money, and am now having another experience in New Orleans. My spirit through all of this has been remarkably high -- even through the bullshit. I feel in control of my life, and at ease with myself, my surroundings and others. Looking forward. Let's see what happens in New Orleans...