I never thought I'd actually get around to writing this. In fact, even as I write it, I'm debating with myself as to whether or not I'll actually post it. But, in a weird, totally unexpected way, I ended up having to deal with what had gotten me into blogging in the first place. In my very first post I only said that I'd “been through a lot of stuff” in the year prior but never actually come clean on the tangled web of circumstances that brought me here today.
Oddly enough, the reason I finally ended up writing this, believe it or not, is because my calculator died.
Yesterday morning, I was studying for one of my end of semester exams. I reached for my calculator and realized that the screen was all black. It was old so I knew its demise was at hand but that didn't solve my problem. Mrs. C had one but even that one needed batteries and it was never unpacked from our last move. Since I did need it, I proceeded to search. I rummaged through boxes with no success so I hit the closets next. In mine were a few boxes full of odds and ends I'd never gotten to throwing out. I searched until I came to the box. The one I didn't want to go through. The box containing, among other things, the items from my previous job. In it was all the junk I'd accumulated over the five years I'd spent as a banker.
|Old, battered & worn looking, isn't it? Hard to believe|
that this box hold five years of what was my life.
In one of my past posts I only briefly mentioned that I was once employed in the banking sector. “Was” being the operative word here. I was forced to make a hasty retreat from this scene and the abruptness of that departure sent my life into a tailspin. Aside from the loss of income, I experienced a loss of identity. I questioned my faith, went into a state of depression and lost all sense of direction. In short, I was a fucked-up mess (for anyone who's been paying attention, that's my first blogging f-bomb).
Eventually, though, the dust settled and during those long days of unemployment I began to take stock of myself and what had brought me to that point. I explored different avenues to deal with what I was going through but, somehow, I always ended up coming back to writing – a hobby I once had in my teenage years.
I was a naïve and innocent twenty-six year old. Too naïve and innocent for that age. Before banking, I'd only worked for small companies doing basic grunt work and this was my first foray into the corporate world. A world where, if you weren't careful, the backstabbing, deceit, and never ending supply of users, abusers and self-absorbed douchebags that exist in it will eventually start to seep into you as well.
And I wasn't careful.
For the most part in my banking career, I was in loans (let's not start hating me all at once, here). There's an inside joke in loans that you have to learn the proper art of bullshitting to do it right. You have to be friendly ALL.THE.TIME. You also have to be ready to drop down and kiss ass at a moment's notice and because you were always representing “the bank” this brown-nosing applied whether you were on or off the clock. I had to adopt that phony personality. I became a “salesman”. I learned how to talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk and became a proper bullshitter. For a while I was doing okay but the truth was that this person I had become simply wasn't me. Soon enough the cracks began to form.
I became this person I didn't recognize. Added to that, I experienced betrayal, dishonesty, egotism and cutthroat ambition at a level I'd never before known (and if you knew some of my relatives, that's saying a lot). Slowly, it chipped away at me. It broke down my childish optimism I had when I first went in and, before I even realized, it sucked me in. Soon enough I was one of them.
Still, I don't really blame the job. In retrospect, I mostly have myself to blame. When faced with the situations I encountered I have to honestly admit that lacked the mental and emotional maturity to handle them. I made mistakes. I compromised on more that a few occasions in areas where I shouldn't have. I was a passive aggressive ball of bitterness and anger. If you knew me then, you probably wouldn't have liked me. Truth is, I didn't like myself. Worst of all, it was damaging my marriage. To be honest, I'm not sure how much longer we would have lasted with me being in that state.
What banking did have going for it is that it paid well. Really well. My, then, coworkers and “friends” (none of whom ever tried to get in touch when I left) griped and complained constantly about how pathetic they thought their salaries were. And I sang along in tune. Even after I found another job, I was amazed to learn just how little some were willing to work for – and they didn't complain half as much. Being surrounded by so many who didn't appreciate what they were getting, I never realized how full of shit we were. If I could go back there right now, I'd bitch-slap the lot of them just for being such ungrateful, whiny brats.
Will I ever go back to it, though? I'm slightly older and a whole lot wiser now and have had a lot of time to figure out where I went wrong. But, no, I probably wouldn't. I've rediscovered my priorities and realize that that wasn't the life for me. If I did, it would only be for the money and I'm not sure if that would truly be worth it to be back in that world again. To be honest, even though I still have a lot of damage control to do on some parts of my life, I like who I am now. Some of the naivety and innocence is gone now. But I think that's a good thing. This world will swallow you whole if you let it.
Yesterday, I finally threw it all out. The promo buttons, the pins, the bags, the t-shirts, all the worthless shwag and, hopefully, the last little bit of regret and resentment I'd been hanging on to for the last year and a half were all stuffed into a plastic grocery bag and put out on the curb. It amazes me how small all of this baggage actually ended up being. It sounds cliché but actually I feel lighter now.
For those of you who made it all the way to the end of this ramble and are interested, I did eventually find my wife's calculator. It was after I had forgotten that I had been looking for it in the first place. By accident I noticed the small gift bag Mrs. C kept it and some other stuff in on the shelf above her own closet. Had I looked there in the first place that box would still be sitting ominously in the corner of my closet waiting for me to face it one day.
Funny how things work out.