Caution: This entry will be relevant to a very few (you know who you are). In light of the circumstances you few know, this is perhaps the only thing I can offer; the only thing I know to do.

J, a certifiable character. Knew Latin. Knew esoterica that only K understood. She, K–a masters in English Lit–stood alone against J’s banter; stood alone as one who returned as much as J gave. She, K, amongst us all, understood the perambulations of J’s quips and quotes; vague references pulled from the depths of irrelevant? learning that we–the mere workmates of the two–were able only to shake our heads in response with smiles and the thought: another tangent betwixt the two.

A brilliant mind, perhaps unsuited for the drudgery of bureaucratic mandates codified or otherwise enforced by policy, J ambled through the requisites of duty (a paycheck involved here), that required perdurable diligence, fealty to tiresome rules that nevertheless–for more staid minds than his–constituted the essential purpose, the elemental good fight, the undeniably worthy quest to do the right thing in the best interests of the people.

Again, a brilliant mind, perhaps tempered by a psyche as fragile as cut crystal; a presence that imposed: at times, over three-hundred pounds; stood six-four, (five?). J trod the days amongst us. We, ensconced within the brilliance of florescent tubes above, surrounded by our cubbies, our voices a muffled cacophony of this or that; we undertook the esoteric tasks of public servants.

No easy task, ours. We functioned within the singular drudgery–for some of us, a passion–of doing the right thing; of following the rules; of, on a more lofty plane, preserving the weal of the people–as we understood that weal to be. Ah, the people. Did they deserve our diligence? Did they appreciate our dedication? Did they understand the minutia with which we dealt and is capsulized within the words–oh, how often did I invoke those holy words!–The best interests of the city?

Did J know that I began, during the ignoble reign of TG, and the tyrannical blip of the wee Successor, to pop Xanax as a necessary, vital tool just to get through the day; just to be able to rouse myself in the morning to return to the dark and surreal machinations of what they call a “workplace”; a place that had gone horribly, horribly bad? Then, later, did J know that through those dire days when it became my duty to defend what it was we all did–day after day after day–before the scrutiny of surly politicos who knew about as much of what it was we actually did–in the best interests of the city–as couch potatoes sucking beer know what it really means to be a linebacker or tight end; yes, did J know that the “happy pills” then came out again. The hell of that period of my incumbency was as grating, as ferocious as anything Dante envisioned–a daily reckoning through the nine bends of the Styx.

We all cope in our own way; some methods of coping more destructive than others. And, I mention my own method of just making it through another day, (now only hoary memories of a time and place where the egoistic intrigues of self-serving politicos with agendas that almost, almost, almost robbed our little family of co-workers of the purpose of our presence); I mention my own method of coping because J should know that we all carry our particular cross.

K said it best, I am told: J does not give himself the credit he deserves. J has lived more lifetimes–adventures I will never experience; excesses I will never enjoy–than most of us. J once noted his life would be a good read; a “short story,” if I recall his words. Well, J should write that story. But first, J should be well.

But, then, wellness is something that comes only if one desires it. Nothing I can write here–although I wish it were so–can provide wellness to one who mistakes self-loathing for a practical justification to, well, just fade away.

J is a character as intriguing and animated, as brilliant and articulate, as full of possibilities and capabilities to enrich the world as any character that emerged from the pen of Dickens.

There is a tenet in law: Each reasonable man in presumed to intend the natural consequences of his acts. J’s reasonableness is colored by his excesses. He knows that. Not something I need to tell him. But, then, perhaps the lesson to be imparted is that facing-up to the consequences of those excesses will be the cathartic balm, the healing path.

Get well, J.

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5 Responses to J

  1. Is it alcohol or drugs?

  2. georgeindenver says:

    Addictions: alcohol and gambling. Not a good combination.

  3. Dino Paul says:


    A truly lovely post. J must have been (is?) quite the character. The world seems full of characters of one stripe or another…We wish him the best as well.

    Ev’ry mornin’ at the mine you could see him arrive
    He stood six foot three and weighed three twenty five
    Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip……

    Like a brontosaurus he rumbled to and fro, wandering within that labyrinthine cubicle farm, increasingly blinded by the flourescent glare, searching for understanding…..

  4. Suz at Large says:

    Thanks for this post, George.

    PS: Sometimes I feel surprised that anybody gets out of the rat race alive. And at those moments I feel like the luckiest person on earth. Just before knowing, again, how powerless I am over many troubling things out there.

  5. georgeindenver says:

    Suz, there’s little recognition out there to what extent public servants (not bureaucrats, there is a difference; and not elected officials whose egos are fed by their incumbency), give of themselves to serving the “people;” to doing the right thing against the constant shove of contrary agendas. Yes, we are lucky to have escaped–mostly intact–from the drudgery of the public sector. The saving grace, though, is that we have the knowledge we fought the good fight and, perhaps, left behind us some little notion of the worth of integrity in the pursuit of assuring the best interests of the city were served during our tenure. At least, that’s what I have taken from it all. Perhaps we’ll have our reward in heaven. Acknowledging, of course, that this current reward of retirement is perhaps reward enough.

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