A Wee Story From a Kentucky Worker

I’ve been very stressed lately.

Oh yes–worries lay heavily on my mind.

My job barely pays enough to cover my bills.

In fact, some weeks, my diet consists of ramen and Mountain Dew.

And I may not be able to work soon.

You see, some mule-headed pricks are playing chicken with my job. These guys are demanding more and more of me, and what do they offer in return? A raise, perhaps? Increased benefits? A bonus? Leave to work overtime whenever I want? Nope. None of that. They’re not even offering what I have now. They want me to work harder than ever, but for less. Less benefits, less pay, the works. Or, they threaten, it’s your job.

They’ll put me out of work.

Of course I could look for another job.

But the economy is still bad–I’ll have a hell of a time finding one.

And they know that.

They watch me squirm, sweating in the heat, forcing my fingers to go faster and faster, willing them to land always on the right spot, concentrating so heavily on the work before me that I don’t even see the notices being put up on the wall until the glue has dried and no one is in sight. I read them, shocked at the message, (“They’re doing what?“) and wondering what the hell just happened. And what the hell I’m supposed to do now.

Tsk, tsk! Better get back to work! they chide.

So I go back to my job, too busy to wonder what those pricks are going to do, too busy to do much of anything about it, until work comes to a standstill, and my coworkers and I flutter around trying to keep busy in order to avoid being sent home. Then I have time to think. Oh, do I seethe. How dare they! I should give them a piece of my mind! I should call someone to report them! They have no right to do this to us!

My adrenaline has surged. My heart is pumping. All I want is to let them have it, between drags of a cigarette (oh, that sounds so good right now). My heart rate increases to the point of bursting and then…my mother calls, asking if I can bring her some groceries. I remember I’m almost out of my medicine. A coworker admits she brought nothing for lunch, and has no money.

I let out a breath, a veritable gust of air that disturbs the draining heat of the office, and sit. I glance at the clock, and see that, in thirty minutes, I can at least have that cigarette. But I don’t have time to do anything but work, pay my bills, sleep, and snatch a few moments of quality time with friends and family to keep my sanity.

So I wait and worry.

Wait to see how far Republicans are willing to go to get their way, and worry what will happen to me and my family if they do get their way.

And resolve to sit on Mitch McConnell’s doorstep should I lose my livelihood because of his “family values.”

 

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Tales of a Feminist Gun Owner: Fear

For a variety of reasons, when I carry, I open carry. My handgun is there for all to see as I walk around. I do it mostly because I haven’t gotten my concealed carry license yet, but also because I want to be an example of a good gun owner.

That burden that I mentioned in this post, that is, the heavy responsibility that comes with choosing to carry a very dangerous tool, and the need to be sensitive to others’ reactions; to put them at ease–is a heavy one. I’ve chosen recently to keep my Ruger at home rather than take that burden up. Monday, I took it up again.

I sat in my car outside the gas station, debating whether or not to put it in my glovebox while I picked up a pack of cigarettes. It was a sunny Monday afternoon–but I know gas stations seem to be a favorite of thieves and armed robbers. I don’t want to frighten the gas station attendant. Finally, I decided to keep my Ruger on me, and my cheerful, sunny disposition coupled with my Southern manners will ease the tension brought by my gun.

It didn’t. I could see her glance down at my hip. She was nervous. I kept my hands on the counter or behind my back. I smiled. Please and thank you. I offered my ID. I did my best to put her at ease. The fear in her eyes did not go away. I returned to my car. I felt awful.

I wanted to toss my Ruger in the glove compartment and rush back inside and apologize over and over again. I fought that urge, because me rushing anywhere was a bad idea. Instead, I unwrapped my cigarettes and lit one up.

She was afraid of me. All I wanted was to escape that fear myself–and in so doing, I was inflicting it on others. I drove to a local coffee shop. I purchased an iced mocha and a grilled sandwich. I ate inside then moved to the patio to smoke and read. I was in Hemingway’s WWI Italy, but the gas station attendant’s fear haunted me still.

What could I do? Should I have said something? Was clasping my hands behind my back a bad idea? Probably. Does everyone who open carries feel this way? I texted a friend and asked.

There’s a reason for  concealed carry.

I felt uncomfortable with that answer. It didn’t answer my questions. It didn’t make me feel better.

I chose this power. I chose this burden. I chose to take back my fear. Here was an in-my-face example of how I might be inflicting that same fear on others: what was I going to do about it?

Put my gun away? I couldn’t–I won’t expose myself again. Get my concealed carry license, and conceal my gun, and know that others would be afraid of me if they knew? I don’t know.

I can only keep doing what I’m doing–be aware of my surroundings, of the feelings that my gun inspires in others, and be sensitive to that. Keep going out of my way to put others at ease. Be a good gun owner. Be a feminist gun owner.