Friday, October 3, 2008

because sometimes i need to vent ... and cry ...

You might want to grab a glass of your favorite adult beverage before reading this one.

First things first. I will live blog the Chiefs / Panthers game Sunday. For a couple reasons. One, I actually like doing the live blog. Its so much easier to just post your thoughts as they occur, rather than try to remember them later, like with home games. Two, because it forces me to not over-react, I don't come as unhinged during games when I blog. (I still come unhinged, just not "as" unhinged.)

But for this game ... October 5th has meaning for me. As my buddy Pickell would say, "let me put it this way". This is my blog. "Steve's Site". So, I believe that gives me the liberty to post, to vent, to rant, to reflect on whatever the hell I want to. And one thing I have tried to do, as my motto on the site says, "I don't wanna be anything other than me". (I love that song, absolutely love it. Its the perfect anthem for life. Gavin DeGraw, "I Don't Wanna Be". Download it if you know what's good for you ...)

Anyways, I have always tried to be open, honest, straight forward with my thoughts on this site. I try to express what I'm thinking, I'm feeling, as it occurs.

And when the NFL schedules came out, I prayed we wouldn't play at home on October 5th. Wish granted.

So ... let me vent about my week at work. Which was unbearable. And I need to vent. And since I don't have a girlfriend, or a friend with benefits (yet anyways), you get to take it.

And then get into why this weekend, and this game Sunday, October 5th, will be rough.

Some of my readers are well aware of how frustrated I am with my job. I want out. Desperately. And yet, I feel a strong sense of loyalty to my current boss, who is without question the single best boss I've ever had, in any job I've ever had. I don't want to screw her over by walking away. Mainly because everyone who is connected with my area knows, nobody with a functioning brain would actually volunteer to do my job. Its that bad. So I'm torn.

My job ... to say that I don't have all the tools at my disposal necessary to make it work well, is an understatement. I am an accountant for, uuh, "a major global insurance company". I am the reinsurance accounting department for this company. Its me and me alone here in KC. I have no backup. Literally noone else in the company knows how to do my job. (They've all been "downsized" in the past 18 months). I have no support, outside of two very overworked folks down in another department who try to handle the set-up and customer service aspect of our agreements.

To put this in perspective, at my prior job in reinsurance, we dealt with 15-20 outside "customers". There were 3 of us in accounting, 4 in claims, and about 40 in production. At this job, we deal with 500 plus "customers". There is me to do accounting, and my two co-workers to handle everything else. To say we overwhelmed and under-supported, is a ridiculous understatement.

Because of this arrangement, I usually take the fall whenever anything goes wrong, because I'm the most visible of the three of us. (And of course upper management covers its ass. Because why blame them when its their fault ...) Anyways, this week, we had an issue with issuing a payment that screwed over about 300 of our "customers". They basically didn't get paid for last month's business.

The reason for this is simple: corporate management has refused to authorize anyone in our building with a ceiling high enough to approve the payout. So I have to seek approval for every payment from someone in a different city.

Anyways, this person didn't bother to inform me that he was "leaving the company". And IT didn't disable his email. So for two weeks, I called, emailed, did everything short of hop on a f*cking plane to fly to where he was, wondering why he didn't approve the payment. Finally, we figured out what had happened, we found someone else to quickly sign off on the payment, and got it out the door.

9 days late.

So ... go figure, when the sh*t hit the fan Wednesday afternoon ... upper management unloaded on me. Just absolutely threw me under the proverbial f*cking bus. Because clearly, this is my fault.

I got home from bowling Wednesday night, and I read all the fallout (while working from home for three freaking hours, of course for no pay since I'm "salaried" ...), and I went from angry to enraged. And when I'm enraged ... I'm going on a bender.

Thursday was brutal. By this morning, I'd finally had enough of the email attacks. We had a regularly scheduled month end meeting anyways, and of course, the entire focus was on this missed payment.

If you worked with me at "former employer known for a neat building in the Bay Area", you know that me and Mary, my former boss, had some legendary verbal throw downs. Culminating with that magical verbal screaming match in August 2005 that (literally) the claims department a block away could hear every word of. (Because Brett and JoAnn came over with a "holy f*cking sh*t, they're going to kill each other" look on their faces. That was also the final straw for me in that department, and less than a month later, I was gone for compliance, the single biggest mistake of my life).

Anyways, my point? Yeah, me and my former boss could get into it.

(And yet, the "loudest" we ever got, was when I asked for a meeting with our upper manager regarding Josh. I literally wrote up 18 pages of what I wanted to say (my job was basically hired out from under me because they wanted to move me into a new position, but of course they didn't bother to tell me what their plans were, they just expected me to go with the flow) ... only Mary beat me to the punch, and it was literally a 2 1/2 hour "you're a f*cking idiot to hire him! You f*cked us over! He's a f*cking idiot!" bitch slap of our upper manager. She had my back when it counted. Its probably why we still email all the time. And yes ... I am strongly considering her offer to move to where she's at now and work for her again ...)

OK, so, end of tangent for now. Today was worse than anything me and Mary ever did. At the end of the meeting, we pretty much got everything resolved, but not before I finally snapped and told a divisional manager to "go f*ck yourself". I've never heard a room quiet down so fast. In a "no, he did NOT just say that" kind of silence. And yes, I dropped the "what, do you need me to repeat that?" follow up.

(Follow up: the best part was afterwards, when the VP of our area came up and basically said "I'd have done the same thing. He's an ass". Steve shoots ... and scores! Just not how I really want to at this point ...)

So ... its been a rough week at work. So rough that, knowing I was going to "drink heavily" tonight, I backed out of going to a BBQ tonight because "former roommate" would be there, and given my current financial crunch, the fact that he owes me hundreds of dollars I will probably never see, the free booze, and my week at work ... well, my brother works for the company putting on the BBQ. No sense risking an ugly scene.

Because for me, this weekend is as rough as it gets.

I knew, at some point, that the Chiefs had to play on October 5th. Maybe we'd luck out and get a bye one year, it'd fall on a Monday another year, but eventually, we had to play on this day.

October 5th is a day that just sucks. It absolutely freaking sucks.

October 5, 2004, is a day that I will never forget.

Its the day we officially lost Randy.

I didn't really get to know Randy until I started sitting in section 132 for games 9 years ago. I obviously knew him; he was one of my best friend's dad, he single handedly saved our business plan project junior year in high school when my rambling style of writing would have tanked us. (And we're still waiting on that Neutrogena soap supply ...) But once I moved back here, and moved over to 132 a year later, I got to "know" him.

And what a man he was. Sure, he wore his emotions on his sleeve. We joke to this day in our area about when the Chiefs reach the "Nance, we're out of here!" moment. (For the record, I think he'd have stayed for every second of Sunday's game ... and been there standing, crying right along with me, when the losing streak was snapped. Yeah, Randy hated crappy football from his team ... but he knew the magnitude of the moment when it presented itself. If that makes sense).

The man was the definition of the word "die hard". In the glossary I mention the "When Will Randy Call" game. Didn't matter what the weather was, what our record was, they were in line to get in usually before the Bus arrived. Unreal. I still remember the Lions game in 2003. Its 6:10 in the morning, in the middle of December. Its snowed overnight, its maybe 14 degrees outside. Ridiculous weather conditions. I had just woken up, and was trying to get the coffee pot going. The phone rings. Its Randy --

(steve) (half asleep and hung over) hello?
(randy) Hey! Where you at?
(steve) uuh, at home. Why?
(randy) figured you'd be ready to be out here with us to celebrate already!
(steve) huh?

(note: The Chiefs / Lions game, if we won it, would give us the AFC West championship. I thought that's what he meant).

(randy) really? you're still at home?
(steve) what the hell do you think? Its (looks at the clock) its 6:15 in the f*cking morning!
(randy) then turn on your f*cking TV! (click).

So, I did. Not surprisingly, FOX News was the first channel to appear. And the "Flash" bulletin said it all: "US Forces Capture Hussein".

I just stood there for a solid minute, in awe and amazement. We'd gotten the son of a bitch. I finally started pounding on Gregg's door --

(steve) (pounds on door)
(gregg) (finally wakes up, p*ssed off) WHAT?!?!
(steve) we got him!
(gregg) got who?
(steve) Saddam! We f*cking got him!
(gregg) (sprints out of bed, opens the door, and in record setting speed, heads for the TV in the main room ...)

The tailgating that day was just surreal. Everyone in the parking lot had the radio, or the TV, tuned to ... news. The music wasn't blaring. The pregame show wasn't blaring. It was ... news. (I can't believe I'm about to say this ...) some things are bigger than the Chiefs winning a division title. Catching a thug who murdered a million plus people, is one of those things.

(Guess I just officially dropped the "D" off my voter card ...)

I could dwell on the depression games, but I'd rather remember his final game, the Texans in 2004.

After the previous two tailgates, when he was withdrawn, distant, very reserved, not what we knew ... the Texans tailgate was the Randy we knew and loved. The game itself, was the Randy I knew and loved.

I should have known. I should have seen it coming. I commented to my dad that night after the game "Randy seemed like Randy today". I should have known by his exit.

Yes, he finally reached the "Nance, grab your stuff, we're leaving" moment. Only ... it wasn't with the usual anger, frustration, "why did I pay $70 plus dollars to watch this sh*t" frustration.

He took the time to say goodbye to everyone. He purposely said goodbye. He'd made his decision.

The last time I ever spoke to him was driving home after the Chiefs road win at Baltimore on October 4th (a Monday night game to temporarily save the season). He called me as I was driving home from ... amazingly enough, the place I live today, Dusty's. I wish I could recall the specifics of the phone call. I vaguely recall I took the call close to State Line and 435, and said goodbye and good night around K10 and K7. So I think it was a good final conversation. But wow. If I'd only picked up on it. If I'd only known.

The next day, October 5th, was a beautiful early fall afternoon. High 70s and sunny as I recall. It was at least decent. I was talking with Vineet on my cell when the house phone rang at 7:49pm. I saw it was Gregg's mom on the caller ID, and told Vineet I'd call him back, and answered the call. Bonnie asked for Gregg. She sounded really upset. Fearing it was Gordon, I got Gregg and left the room, heading down to the hottub part of the deck, in case the worst had happened to his dad and he needed a moment or three.

I had half of that right.

I heard a pounding sound, like someone smashing their fist on the counter. I headed back up, prepared to offer my condolences ... only, for the wrong person.

Gregg just looked at me, tears in his eyes ... and I guess I just knew. Randy was gone. By his own choosing.

G headed for Jasson's that night. To this day, I wish I had. Its my biggest regret in life, that I chose to reflect, rather than react. I saw Jasson the next day, and all I could do was hug him and wish him the best. I couldn't bring myself to cry yet.

The rest of the week ... from every tragedy, can come triumph. That Friday night, at Nancy's, just the "core group". Nance, Gregg, me, Jasson and Tara, Russ and Mona. If I remember right, Jenni was the 8th person there. Weather was an issue that Friday night, it was supposed to be a "friends only" night to remember Randy before the services that weekend. The rain delayed everyone coming in from elsewhere. To this day ... I thank God it rained that night. I mean that, sincerely. I'm not a religious person ... but God clearly had a hand on that night. We needed a night to grieve. As a "family". Which "we" are. And God gave it to us, as only he could.

The night ended at about 2am. I was meeting Anthony to go to the Busch race in the morning. I still had not shed a tear. Even after hugging Nancy, embracing my buddy Jasson ... on the drive home with Gregg, I even noted that. I haven't cried yet. What the hell is wrong with me?

The race was ... a boozefest. I drank far more than I should have. (shocking). So much that I missed KU finally beating ksu that night in football, on John Randle's 3 touchdowns.

Sunday was the wake. I had never been to anything more depressing in my life ... and my buddy James (as recapped in the quiz answers) had died 6 weeks earlier. Still, not a tear. Not one tear out of my eyes. I was beginning to think I simply had no heart.

Monday, the funeral. I was asked to be a pallbearer, along with Gregg, Bill Turner, Anthony (different from the race buddy), and two people I forget. We arrive at the funeral home in North KC. Hugs, handshakes, greetings exchanged.

My dad took the day off to attend. I saw him walk in, and for the first time, I had some emotion. Russ and Mona embrace my dad, as do Gregg's folks. As we head off into a "huddle", I simply say this:

"I don't know what's wrong with me. I haven't cried yet".

Mona ... puts it all in perspective:

"You will. When its your time, you will".

The service was just an amazing tribute to an amazing man. Yet I still didn't cry. Somehow I got through Danny's unbelievable, uplifting eulogy without shedding a tear. (And he did as well. I have no idea how he held it together, other than "God had mercy on us". His eulogy was just inspirational. He totally captured the spirit of Randy. God love ya Danny. And for once, I'm not dropping the Biden God Love Ya line as a joke ...)

As the final moments approached, and the mourners comforting the family commenced, "Amazing Grace" with the bagpipes played as the background music.

I saw my dad console Nancy and Jasson, and kind of choked up.

I saw Gordon pause at the coffin, and release his emotions ... and started to get choked up.

I embraced Jasson and Tara, and Austin and Ashton, and Nancy ... and choked up again.

I saw Randy for the final time ... and choked up again.

But still no tears.

Until I walked past the coffin, made the left turn back to the main aisle, entered said main aisle ...

And there was Mona waiting at the end of it.

It was my time to grieve.

I literally started bawling the second I saw her. I didn't stop crying for a solid 15 minutes. Me and Mona, just consoling each other, at the end of the aisle. Eventually others joined us.

My point, as depressing as it is ... I guess, is this:

To this day, when I walk into Arrowhead, and reach my seat, the first thing I do after exchanging greetings with the neighbors, is pat Section 132, row 25, seat 1's, uuh, seat. Pat it like I was patting someone on the back. I don't know why. Actually, I do know why. I'm welcoming my friend to today's game. I've done it every game since the first one without him, the Falcons game in 2004. Its one of those traditions that just makes sense to me, I guess. Like Gregg sticking gum underneath his seat to start the season, or sitting in 22 even though his ticket is for 21. (Or the inverse of that, I forget which it is).

So to close ... I think its probably fitting, that on the drive home today, right as 435 hits its usual parking lot status between Nall and Roe ... that I was flipping through the channels on the Sirius receiver. I started on Hits 1. I don't remember what was on, but junk. StarLite 2 wasn't worth it. I almost never stop on Love 3, and just jump to Movin EZ 4. And just starting was the opening of what I consider to be the single most depressing song of all time, "Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg.

I know, I'm a freaking sap, and you can start the "Steve's gay / Steve's a loser / Steve's a (woman's body part that rhymes with "sussy")" jokes now ... but I always tear up listening to that song. That song just gets to me.

It seemed a fitting start to this weekend.

I guess some things matter more than football. The memory of Randy, our friend, our pal, our tailgating buddy, our Arrowhead neighbor ...

my second father ...

That's what counts in this life.

If this whole post depressed you, I'm sorry. But Sunday, its personal for me. October 5th is personal for me. For a lot of you as well.

So come Sunday, keep the amazing, incredible, indefatible Nancy in your prayers. (And please. Call her. Let her know we not only remember ... we care). Keep the "old" generation in your prayers. Gordon, Bonnie, Danny, Debbie, Phil, Christy. Keep Russ and Mona in your prayers. Keep those of us of the "next" generation, Gregg, Jenni, Jason, Steve, Conrad. Sadie, Ivan, Drew, in you prayers. Keep the generation coming up, Luke, Trent, (the amazingly awesome) Ayden, in your prayers.

Some things matter more than a football game. As some of us so painfully found out 4 short years ago this weekend.

Or as Dan Fogelberg put it:

"We drank a toast to innocence,
We drank a toast to now;
We tried to reach beyond the emptiness,
But neither one knew how;
We drank a toast to innocence,
We drank a toast to time;
Living in our eloquence,
Another Old Lang Syne ...

The beer was empty, and our tongues were tired,
Running out of things to day ...
She gave a kiss to me as I got out,
And I watched her drive away ..."

Randy ... I will always miss you. I will miss the phone calls. I will miss the cones saving spots. I will miss you telling the parking folks they "majored in asshole 101".

I will ... miss you.

My friend.

My friend. What more needs to be said.

My friend. I thank God you're someplace better than where we are, (the highest compliment I can pay someone ...) I thank God you are someplace better than we are, tito ...

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