I owe the salvation of my life to a greasy mullet.
I awoke with shared emotions. I was very anxious, which was evident by the fact that I was awake at six thirty in the morning. A time of day that is widely regarded as “completely disgusting”. But I also was over come by a sense of dread. It was the more prominent of the two feelings even though both were caused by the same fact. Later on that morning, at eleven thirty, I had an interview at the county unemployment office in Rancho Cucamonga. I didn’t know much about what was going to happen except 1) supposedly, I was supposed to get help in searching for work (the need of which for me is becoming more and more desperate), 2) the status of my pending unemployment checks was supposed to be reviewed despite the fact that I received a letter not a week before informing me that my status with the state ‘free’ money office has been elevated from “Pending” to “Fuck off, Mister”, and 3) I had to go to a government run office building. That was undoubtedly going to a pain in the ass as many a trip to the DMV or county courthouse has proven.
As I ironed a pair of slightly too short slacks and the only white dress shirt I have (whose arms are too short as well), I decided that I was probably over worrying the upcoming event of the day. I’m sure, like usual, I was simply over thinking all the aspects of what was going to happen at the office, and like always, I will arrive into the situation to find that I was simply worrying too goddamn much.
I was of right. I walked into the office to find that I was MASSIVELY overdressed. My shirt was the only one in the waiting room that had a collar. The meeting took place rather quickly. I get no money. No real progress towards a job was made. I cleaned myself up real good to have a state employee tell me that I will not have the state help me upgrade my station in life.
As I drove home smelling of cologne, coconut hair conditioner and shoe polish (seriously. I clean up fucking good), the epic battle in my stomach between disappointment and hungry was decided with a mighty and vicious blow. I was hungry. Stuck between not wanting to go home with disappointing news, because everyone else there has a job, and not having I whole heap of extra money to go out to eat, I elected to go to Der Wienerschnitzel. The corn dogs there are cheap, tasty, and don’t taste as if they were immediately extracted out of a salt mine for my consumption, unlike most everything else on that menu.
I get to the restaurant and order three corn dogs and a small drink. When you stay in the restaurant, the dollar size drink buys a fuck-ton of Dr. Pepper. I get my tray, grab some mustard, and sit myself down for seven to fifteen minutes of self-reflection and corn-battered, pressed processed meat.
I didn’t begin to eat immediately. I sat there, staring at my tray, occasionally sipping my glorious liquid salvation, feeling completely and utter incompetent. The weight of my current situation in life began to press me all at once, right before I began to eat, and worst of all, in public. Lack of money, lack of important doings, things of that nature. The thought that I am nearing twenty seven years old, not doing or being anything of the things that I thought I’d be or be doing when I was ten years old, or even twenty years old. A common problem as I understand for a large amount of people my age. But I’m not concerned with others, selfish as it may sound. I am concerned for me, and right at that moment, I knew that I was not at a good place. I spread mustard on my first corndog as irresponsibly as a man wearing his only dress shirt could, when a man walked in. I didn’t realize it right away, but without saying a single word to him, or him saying anything to me, he changed my life.
This man came in with four children. The oldest couldn’t have been any older than nine. Youngest was maybe four years old, and I assume they were all his children.
I am a large man, this is no secret, but this man was larger. Large enough to where even I was a little taken aback. He was large enough that when he would sit at the tables and benches that were bolted in place with his children, he wouldn’t fit. When he eventually sat down, I don’t ever recall seeing a man sit and eat so noticeably uncomfortable.
He was a large man, wearing a blue tank top, little shorts, sandals with white socks, large wire frame “I am probably a rapist, and possibly was also the Zodiac Killer” glasses, and a wet look, matted down, gross-as-shit looking dirty blond mullet. This guy was not a happy looking man. Within five seconds of entering the place with his kids, he roared at them to ‘Shut the hell up!’ That caught the attention and silence of every person in the restaurant for a few seconds.
He stood there, staring at the menu, looking like he was pissed off at Wienerschnitzel for existing for the sole purpose that he’d have to be standing there at that exact moment with his kids. The kids stood there, slightly confused, but eager for their father to say something at them that granted them permission to eat.
“You can each have two things each, and you are each sharing the drink. I’m only buying two for you guys, so agree with someone now,” he declared with a determination that hasn’t been seen in the world since Kissinger.
I began to eat while the kids feed their orders to the underage cashier. The man then placed his order which was fairly large. Not that I’m judging. Just something I noticed.
The kids partnered up and chose their drinks. They sat themselves at the long table next to mine while the man got his drink. He stood by the table until their order was ready, I assume so that he didn’t have to get up an extra time. Came back with two trays full of value menu items.
As he handed out the meat items in complete silence, his cell phone rang. I didn’t realize he had a Bluetooth in his ear right away. When he did remember his ear piece, made a face that made me conclude that he was mad at himself for forgetting he was wearing it. He shuffled his hand under his greasy mullet to turn it on.
“Hello……. yeah, what’s up… nah, I got the kids. We’re eating………… yeah, all of them…………… Nope. Fucking bitch decides to spend the night partying and drinking last night, can’t find time today to take care of her goddamn family. Not that she does anyways”
Every child at the table looked desperately upset. They all knew that big daddy over there was talking about their mother. I knew he was talking about their mother. He knew that they knew who he was talking about. As he snuck chili fries between words, he continued to berate and insult the children’s mother, even including the phrase, “if these kids end up even kinda fucked up, it’s her fault”.
I looked back at the counter to see that a few of the line cooks were looking at the awful situation at the long table and were trying to figure out if they should do something. I looked back at the table to see that the youngest girl, sitting at the edge of the table across from me was on the brink of tears. Daddy ended his phone conversation and notice that his adorable daughter was about to burst.
She managed get out the phrase, “I don’t like it when you’re mean to mommy.”
He retorted with a force, “SHUT UP AND EAT YOUR FOOD!!!”
She couldn’t eat because she was too busy wiping tears off her face. He become frustrated to the point where he decided, “If you’re not going to eat, I’m taking it”, and he then snatch the half eaten corndog and fries from her. She spent a few seconds trying to compose herself the best a child of her age could and asked her father, “Daddy, can I have my food back?”
Without missing a beat, “NO!!! YOU’RE GOING TO CRY THEN YOU’RE NOT GOING TO EAT!!!!” bit the rest of the half eaten corndog off the stick, and tossed the stick back at daughter.
The rest of the children said nothing while eating and looking at the floor. I saw the manager of the place grab the phone and head to the back room. If there is any goodness in the world, he was calling social services. Everyone at that table ate in silence, save for the little girl. By this time, I had one corndog left, still in the little paper sleeve.
I placed it at the edge of the table, and tried to get the little girl to notice that I was trying to eye her down. She eventually noticed me looking at her. As soon as she did, I motioned with my eyes down to the corndog sitting at the edge of the table. I figured if this awful man was going to publicly lash out at his children, no telling what kinda bullshit he was going to have in store for some guy (me) trying to feed his kids.
She realized that I was offering the dog to her. She gave a brief smile, but immediately replaced the look with terror and whipped back to look at her father to see if he noticed my offer. He didn’t. He just continued to look down, angrily biting at his polish sandwich. I gathered up my rubbish, and stood up to leave. As I got to the trash can, the big man got up and made his way to the soda machine. The girl took this opportunity to pull my sacrificial corndog out of the sleeve that I left on the table, and hid it in her lap after taking a few quick nibbles.
As I drove out of the shopping area where Der Wienerschnitzel is located (and saw two cop cars drive in), I came to a realization.
I am not a fan of where my life is right now. I’ll be twenty seven soon. No job to speak of, barely any money, living at home, with no prospects of really righting any of these issues. I don’t take remarkable care of myself, even though I have been trying harder to fix that. I allow almost every obstacle to get the best of me, and try to avoid every challenge that comes my way.
I am a shitty adult. There is no getting around it. If one were to observe me and my life in a realistic and unbiased manner, they would come to the resounding conclusion that I suck. I just do. I understand this and I’m not very happy about it.
That awful excuse of a man shocked me quite badly. It was obvious that that man walked around everyday believing that the day, and everyone in it, was a complete and miserable failure. A waste of skin, cash and time that serves no other purpose but to make his life a bigger, hotter, and disgusting pot of shit than it already is.
That man hates his life. Chances are that he hates himself, and because he can’t reconcile anything that admittedly perturbs his life, he takes it out on everyone around him, even, sadly enough, on his poor children.
He is an even shittier adult than myself. Worse than I can imagine I could be. Did he know that every unfortunate choice would warp his life into the miserable ball of pathetic bastard that it is today? Probably not. I don’t think people opt to hate their life, breath louder a car muffler, or knowingly maintain such an awful fucking haircut because they believe that those things together lead to nowhere else but a thundering mountain of glory and decadence. I honestly believe that this guy probably didn’t see any of this shit coming until it was too late and destroyed his life. He is going to die miserable and angry.
I don’t want to die miserable and angry.
The few minutes that I spent with my corn dogs, observing the brief moment in this man’s and his children’s miserable fucking lives turned something in my head.
I can see all the things that can and will turn me into that sack of shit. I’m not going to ignore them anymore.
Thank you, you disgusting fucking mullet. Thank you.