40

When my wife first suggested Vegas for my 40th birthday, I was bothered. 40 meant for me, what I suspect it means to a lot of people, that a part of me was dead. Maybe not 100% of me, but somewhere in the lower 60% range. That left me with, not coincidentally I suspect, 40% of me left to work with till I actually die.

Now for some, that 40% is more than enough to work with. For me, it’s like trying to build a skyscraper with legos. Possible, but christ it would suck. There’s just not a whole lot of raw materials to work with, unless you count the McRib pudge I wear around my stomach/thigh/face region and enough self loathing to spackle that wall they’re going to build between Mexico and Texas.

I figured that between the time my wife made that suggestion and the time my birthday would actually happen, I had about 6 months to make some serious changes. If I was going to go to Vegas at 40, I wanted to be hot, or a close approximation thereof.

I dieted and exercised, and I was well on my way to my goal. I had dropped 15lbs and a pant size. I went to the beach without a fucking shirt on. I was getting confidence in myself, I could see the goal ahead and it actually seemed possible: Hotness.

Then, I got laid off. Resigned? Forced resignation? Spending some time ruminating on the topic, I think the technical term is, Dicked Over.

Those 15lbs I lost? I found them, plus some of their friends.

I worked at that job for 4 years, and I had developed some incredibly close relationships. One even got me in trouble at home because, lesson here guys, don’t choose your friends over your wife. It’s stupid. I’ll provide a diagram later.

Those close friends seemingly evaporated once I got laid off. I did my best to keep up with everyone: texting, emailing, hitting the occasional bar, etc. But after the first month, it got harder and harder for anyone to respond. “Hey how goes it?”, would lead to an inevitable, and conversation ending, “Ok”.

Those close relationships I had developed turned out to be less substantial than the friends my missing pounds brought to my ass.

The thing that really drove home the apathy was as my 40th birthday approached, I suspected it would suck. Vegas was a dead plan, losing my job saw to that. That also meant that doing much of anything was out, because some asshole in Washington thinks it’s more important to feed and clothe my kids than to get drunk and go strip-club hopping. Libertarians unite, am I right?

No, the real blow came when my wife, reluctantly (bless her heart), told me that she had tried contacting a half dozen or so of my friends to have a party for me. No one responded.

I suspected that she’d try to do something like that. A small part of me hoped that the whole reason I didn’t hear from anyone was that she somehow managed this elaborate silence scheme. That all my friends were going to shout “Surprise!” when I came home from work on October 18th and give me my very first heart attack. That they were all being silent because she cleverly told them how much happier I’d be to hear from them all at once.

Yeah, ok I lied. A big part of me hoped that.

I’ve heard the term ‘work-friend’ for most of my life, and I always thought it was a silly monicker. I have friends I still keep in touch with from nearly every job I’ve ever had, with the exception of the grocery store when I was 16. Cause really, fuck those guys. But never has that term felt more poignant than it does these last few months.

I don’t have friends. I have work friends.

Could I have some work pounds? I suspect those will be easier to lose than pounds.

Cops. Be better than this.

I’d like to say that I have lots of great experiences with cops, but the simple fact of the matter is I really don’t get the point of them.

Most of my life I never had encounters with constables on ptatrol. It wasn’t until my 30’s that I kept running into situations where I scratched my head and asked, “What the hell?”

The first time was when my home was robbed over Christmas. The police showed up, basically said that was a shame, took fingerprints and then left. My family was a wreck, everyone felt scared, uncertain and violated, and all we got were a bunch of vague promises that it would be looked into.

Months later they seemed to think that the people who stole our stuff were the druggies who lived down the street. They ended up going to jail, but only because they had tried to rob a convenience store, and the woman in that dynamic duo decided to roll on her boyfriend. Seriously, how the fuck do we have a system where two addicts can escape charges on something like that unless one of them rats the other out?

Plus, the only way the cops got their lead about those two stealing our stuff was by using my wife to pose as a buyer for a fence. Let me repeat that. The police wanted my wife to do their fucking job. They sent the person whose stuff was stolen to serve as an undercover officer. To her credit, my god, what balls of steel she has. She told me after the fact and I was both impressed and horrified.

The next time our lives intersected with the law was when our renters next door decided to have a going away party. And by going away party, I meant we served them an eviction notice because they weren’t paying the rent, and they decided to trash the place. I’m not talking about leaving a mess, these assholes threw knives at the walls (they left a few sticking out), and took a sledgehammer to those same walls to finish the job. No lie, a sledgehammer. It was still laying on the floor next to one of the (many) holes.

We called the police, they showed up and said it was pretty open and shut since we had the renters names, the signed rental agreement, and a nearly destroyed apartment. Then, they looked at the name of one of the two occupants and they got quiet.

He was the son of the chief of police.

Now, it was more like an open and really-open case. They said that this kid had done this kind of stuff before, and that their boss, the mother-fucking-chief-of-police, would contact the families and offer to pay restitution. They said we’d be much better off that way, because we’d see some money for the damage. More than five years later and we haven’t seen a dime, and I have to wonder how many other people and properties were hurt and damaged since then.

Then tonight. Oh man, tonight.

Our little puppy was abused by a groomer. It was obvious what happened, he’s a tiny little thing, about as dangerous and threatening as a box of kleenex. He was dropped off in the morning and the groomer kept putting us off about when to pick him up. When we finally got him, he was drugged out of his mind, and he yelped whenever we touched his leg.

Thanks to an amazing local vet, we found out this little puppy’s flexible leg bone was snapped in half, consistent with someone hitting him with a bat.

My wife, again being the badass that she is, hit the internet and started to research this groomer’s past based on the smallest scraps of information. Turns out, the groomer had another business before this one and Yelp was filled with reviews of people posting x-rays of their poor broken dogs. Then my wife found out the groomer had not one, not two, but five aliases.

We were crushed and floored. How did this person keep getting away with this? Well it turns out the groomer’s spouse would follow behind the path of broken bones left behind and would offer to pay the vet bills, at least according to one of the Yelp reviews. Of course, we didn’t know for certain that was the case until he contacted us with that same offer.

We decided it had to stop, so we sucked up the cost of the vet bill and began amassing all of the x-rays, Yelp reviews, text messages and every other little scrap of information there was about the groomer. We contacted the police and they in-turn contacted animal control, and in a joint venture between them they arrested the groomer. We handed the investigator a giant folder filled with information, again doing the cops job for them, figuring there was no way this horrible person could get away with it again.

Then tonight I asked my wife if she had heard anything about the case. I wish I hadn’t asked.

The groomer was convicted, but she had filed an appeal. The investigator who took all of our information was no longer with the department. The new investigator treated us as if the case didn’t matter, plus said that because my wife’s phone was now wiped months later that the case will likely be thrown out. Bear in mind, she had asked the original investigator if she could reformat her phone because (as iPhone users know) the phone was getting progressively glitchy. That investigator, you know, the one who no longer works there? said it was fine.

What the hell.

What. The. Hell.

I realize a robbery, vandalism and animal abuse aren’t the worst crimes in the world. I understand that no human was physically hurt in any of this. But when any crime is treated so liberally and callously by the people who supposedly are sworn to protect the community, it’s hard not to hate them, or at least monumentally doubt them.

I want my kids to note be afraid of police, to respect them and feel safe around them, but I certainly don’t feel that way. Why should anyone when things like this happen? If they can’t take care of the small things, how can I ever trust them to take care of the big things? To not shoot my daughter’s dark-skinned boyfriend because he’s driving a nice car. To help my wife when she’s having a seizure instead of tazing her because her arm flailed and hit them.

I don’t trust them, and that’s a serious fucking problem.