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Story of the guy next door

By Omaze in Culture
Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: You Know... (all tags)
You Know...

Over the last couple of days I've happened to bump into the guy who lives next door in our apartment building while checking my mail or coming and going. He's about thirty years old, blond hair, blue eyes, pretty quiet, intelligent, well-mannered. He has a very defining appearance, though, in that he's burned from the waist up.

His entire chest is gone. His neck is one big scar. Half his face is gone. His left ear was completely burned away and had to be reconstructed and that wasn't done real well--his ear looks like Shrek. Half his right hand is mutilated. His arms are burned such that he has no muscle mass. He's not really ugly, per se, but the scars are just enough that most people shy away from him almost unconsciously.

I've seen him around town: at the grocery, at the pub, at church, The gossip which follows this guy behind his back is, to be honest, nothing short of a character assassination. Nobody ever talks to him about it. When he comes in the pub, for example, the subject is casually changed to something else. I can still see it, though, in the way he's treated socially. Everything he says or does is viewed with skepticism because people already have their preconceived notions and stories.

Last night I asked him if he wanted to sit down and chat for a little bit. We'll call him Joe. I'm recently out of a job and my savings have hit zero except for the emergency road funds that I keep. It didn't seem like it could do any harm to talk with Joe before I have to leave.

He was burned when he was two years old. The story from his father has always been,"You burned yourself with a pack of matches." His father was in the process of separating from his wife when Joe was burned. After Joe was released from the hospital the social services department gave custody of Joe to his birth mother. After a few visits, when social services would show up and find Joe wrapped in dressings which hadn't been changed in a week and the mother outside tanning, social services put Joe through one or two low-income foster homes. Eventually Joe was taken in by one of the nurses at the hospital who had cared for him when he was first burned. According to Joe that nurse, and her boyfriend, were two of the nicest people in the world who actually treated him like a normal human child.

Apparently things were going downhill very quickly, though. Joe's father remarried to a legal secretary who had also been through one failed marriage. Now that Joe's father could show a stable house and income the state gave custody of Joe back to his father. There wasn't any more than the most cursory of investigations on the part of the state and nobody ever really questioned the father's story of "I don't know what happened." Joe's father and the new wife proceeded to completely deny all contact with Joe's mother and her family. Growing up, Joe was always told,"You burned yourself with a pack of matches." Joe told me that he's recently managed to come in contact with some removed cousins from his mother's side of the family and their story is,"We don't really know what happened. We always thought you were burned with perfume or aftershave." The pattern of Joe's scarring, specifically that his left ear is completely gone but his hairline is just fine and that the last two fingers on his right hand are so mutilated but the palm is just fine, indicates to me that he was doused with hot grease.

The second wife apparently used her legal connections to secure a civil court case for neglect against Joe's father (her new husband). Not that this was done for Joe's benefit. Growing up his parents (father and second wife) did everything in their power to hide from him how much money there was. The household was structured to demand complete and utter obedience to what sounded like a dehumanizing level. As he was growing up Joe was constantly reminded that the reason why his father was working 60-80 hour workweeks was for the money to "pay off the court settlement for your burns." Joe showed to me the court papers, which he'd finally realized that he was entitled to see when he was 27, and it turns out that not a single cent came from the father--it all came from an insurance company and, for whatever reason, the pages in the court document which detailed how much money there was and where it would be deposited were missing (stricken from the record?). On his eighteenth birthday Joe's parents came to him with a stack of financial and investment papers. When Joe asked what the papers were for he was told that his parents wanted him to sign all of the money over to them for safekeeping while he went to college. Joe was already signed up for college in another state and knew what would happen if he didn't acquiesce--there would be an enormous fight and, once properly escalated, his father would push him out the door. Joe had seen it done to his older brother just two years before. Joe signed the papers and never knew how much money there ever was. Joe's parents, on the other hand, were using his money (which somehow the court made them the custodians of--as if there was ever a more obvious conflict of interest) to leverage everything from refinancing their house to gaining the necessary lines of credit to get involved in priveleged organizations. Joe got, approximately, crap.

I had talked with the lady down the hall about Joe. She's a social worker at a local company. According to her Joe is the subject of what can only be described as a corporate smear campaign. When he's hired he gets treated like a second class employee, gets paid far below what could even be remotely fair for his job (he's a research scientist and showed me some pretty cool stuff that he's done designing pharmaceuticals), and in general the management just uses him to make an example to the rest of the employees. Of course Joe doesn't really know the game that's being run. All he knows is that, wherever he goes, he's viewed with complete skepticism, treated like dog crap, and then if he ever has the guts to stick up for himself he gets ridden out the door. This works out well for the HR and EAP people who can then write all of the paperwork to show that he has stress management problems, or that he has an anger problem, or that he's arrogant and selfish and not a team player, or pretty much whatever they want. The lady down the hall said that, while it's pretty sad, it's an effective way for the managers to keep the other employees in line because Joe really is an overperformer. Once other employees watch an overperformer get hounded out the door they make fewer and fewer requests for themselves.

One of the gossip rumors about Joe is that he's gay and that's why he doesn't assert himself more. When I hear that I just look at the person talking like they are on crack. I've seen Joe attempt to assert his presence standing in line at the grocery or at a burger place. People deliberately cut him down. Not verbally so much but, if you watch how humans behave around each other, it's pretty clear that the prevailing social opinion about Joe (preset mostly by the gossip and stories which follow Joe and come in front of him) is that he gets nothing, that he's not a viewed as a suitable choice for a date, that he should just be grateful that he's not run out of town on any given day.

Joe. Poor bastard. His life is utter and complete crap. Wherever he goes he's set up to fail and then blamed for everything that went wrong along the way. It's like a sick joke that never ends. He has nothing, he's in debt, he's never really been given an honest opportunity. I've met convicted felons who get better treatment from society. He was raised to be a complete dupe and, when he began to develop some measure of self-respect for himself, he's lashed at as selfish, or paranoid, or egotistical.

Aside from the crappy situation that Joe's in he still seems to be pretty okay. He's more or less upbeat (more than you would expect), he's fairly healthy, and he seems to have a real level and honest take on life. I felt compelled that I should at least tell Joe what I know about the gossip and the employers and he just shrugged, looked at me and said,"Yeah. I had figured as much but, whenever I say anything about it, I'm ridden down as a paranoid whiny bitch. What can I do about it anymore?"

Joe's 30... he's looking at 40-60 more years of this kind of treatment. From what the lady down the hall and the guys at the pub say the stories only get bigger and more exaggerated wherever he goes--mostly because it's fun to tell the stories and it gives the employers a real fun game to play. One of the guys at the pub acknowledged that, sure, some of the stuff has been exaggerated and a good portion of it is just outright lie--but that's the way shit goes. You can't fight it when people get to talking about someone.

Let's just say that, while I realize my own complete lack of ability to do anything to help Joe's situation, I don't drink with those guys at the pub anymore.


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Display: Sort:
Story of the guy next door | 110 comments (88 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
Moving from the edit queue (none / 1) (#1)
by debacle on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 04:50:27 PM EST

You didn't do that correctly.

It tastes sweet.
Interesting, reminds me of chickens. n (2.50 / 2) (#13)
by livus on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 06:21:37 PM EST

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Now that you mention it (none / 1) (#17)
by debacle on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 07:29:50 PM EST

It reminds me of chickens, as well.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
Oddly... (none / 1) (#72)
by skyknight on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 08:40:44 AM EST

I am not reminded of chickens.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
thx for posting this in the queue... (2.75 / 4) (#16)
by terryfunk on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 07:27:29 PM EST

for some ironic weird reason i think this story is a hoot. For me, it reflects a lot of irony, humor and cynicism. Yet at the same time, there is an honesty about it that I like.

I like you, I'll kill you last. - Killer Clown
The ScuttledMonkey: A Story Collection

Humor? (none / 0) (#19)
by debacle on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 07:31:48 PM EST

Where's the humor?

You're pretty fucked up, you know what?

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

Honesty? (none / 0) (#61)
by ParadisePete on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 07:30:18 PM EST

there is an honesty about it that I like.

What honesty? This guy starts out being somebody in the building that the author has a talk with, and then suddenly the author knows all sorts of things that Joe is supposedly unaware of. There are several inconsistencies that make the whole thing seem to be an invention, or at least a device.

[ Parent ]

It's because he's incorporating facts he later (none / 0) (#65)
by bamcquern on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 12:40:20 AM EST

learned into earlier parts of the story. If you check his two diaries on the subject you'll see the facts revealed more naturally.

[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#68)
by ShiftyStoner on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 01:15:17 AM EST


Fact is, people tend to treat freaks as subhuman but try to act sympathetic, adults that is.

Try to act like they treat them equal, but don't. Many people would act offended to hear somone talking all kinds of shit about a tard or deformed person, so people don't do it in public.

Now the father throwing hot grease on the kid, or dousing them in flamable liquid and lighting him up, or joe being in the wrong place at the wrong time during his parents meth lab mishap, this is based on realety.

People shying away, staring, cruel comments from children(likely hushed by their parents) and the occational asshole starting shit and making fun of the freak, unwanted pity, all the reality of a freak.

An entire town making up strange baseless stories and some big conspiracy againsts the freak, dont buy it. People want to save face and appear kind. I Do buy a father getting a bunch of cash from the government for burning his kid. Probably happends everyday.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

I like it though (none / 0) (#69)
by ShiftyStoner on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 01:15:58 AM EST

makes you think
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]
so if there is a real joe (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by wampswillion on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 07:53:48 PM EST

and there is a real you.  why don't you befriend him?  sounds to me like joe could use a friend or two in life.   you know?  you could go out for a beer.  golfing.  etc..  

oh yeah, (none / 1) (#23)
by t1ber on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:11:10 PM EST


Have a burger, some fries.  

Oops.  :[

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

must you always be (none / 0) (#26)
by wampswillion on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:13:26 PM EST

sarcastic and mean?

[ Parent ]
Small dick $ (none / 0) (#27)
by debacle on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:19:38 PM EST

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
is that an excuse for him or (none / 0) (#31)
by wampswillion on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:22:52 PM EST

an explaination?

[ Parent ]
Yes $ (none / 0) (#32)
by debacle on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:23:10 PM EST

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
well i don't (none / 0) (#33)
by wampswillion on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:30:04 PM EST

have a dick at all and yet you don't see me being mean and sarcastic like that.  

[ Parent ]
that's because... (none / 0) (#36)
by t1ber on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:42:59 PM EST

YOU'RE A WOMAN. There, not only am I sarcastic and mean, but I'm a sexist too.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

you're really (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by wampswillion on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:44:19 PM EST

having a bad day there aren't ya?  

try drugs.  they help.

[ Parent ]

Clippy says: It appears you are... (2.33 / 3) (#34)
by t1ber on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:34:16 PM EST

It appears you are trying to find an explaination of someone's behavior!  Does it act that way because:
  •  He's a republican!
  •  This is Kuro5hin!
  •  No-one cares about the kids horribly disfigured in Iraq, just domestic abuse!
  •  Cancel your AOL account and grow a sense of humor.
If the fire's too hot, get the fuck out.  It clearly doesn't work for everyone, but it might save you.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

it's not too hot (none / 0) (#38)
by wampswillion on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:43:15 PM EST

it's just that i find meanness tiresome sometimes.  

[ Parent ]
Not much time left (3.00 / 3) (#24)
by Omaze on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:11:19 PM EST

The end of this month my rent runs out.  I could use my road money to pay next month's rent but then, should next month go through and no decent job offers show up, then I'm left with no road money.  I've been putting out resumes since August of last year and have gotten all of five telephone calls--and no interview offers.  I'm pretty much at the end of my rope, too.

Talking with Joe it seems that he doesn't really need a friend.  It sounds like he needs a bag of grass (to relax and take his mind off of things for at least an evening) and an honest chance at a decent life.  He's been effed over so many times in so many different ways that, honestly, I don't think he has much interest in people anymore.
Life is what it is
[ Parent ]

Both of you could move cross-country (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by debacle on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:20:36 PM EST

And start a new life.

None of the Brokeback Mountain shit, though.

Fucking queers.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

I was thinking more along the lines of... (none / 0) (#42)
by madameBovarysGhost on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 12:23:29 AM EST

'The Outsiders.'
Hi osm...

[ Parent ]
WIPO: Thelma and Louise /nt (none / 0) (#51)
by Ignore Amos on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 11:27:38 AM EST

And that explains why airplanes carry cargo on small boats floating in their cargo aquarium. - jmzero
[ Parent ]

Yeah, both have queer subtext. (none / 0) (#60)
by bamcquern on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 06:46:01 PM EST

[ Parent ]
sorry to hear (none / 1) (#29)
by wampswillion on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 08:21:33 PM EST

of your plight.   what field are you job seeking in?  

and well, yeah, i'm sure joe is fed up with people or at least seems to accept what his "fate" is in life but you know?  no kidding, most anything can be faced better with friends.  i mean, hey if you're stuck in your life, whatever your life is- it's nice to have people around to talk to.   whether you will admit that outright or not.  and i'm sure joe at this point would never admit that he needs or wants friends.  it would be putting himself up for another potential push or fall.  and hey, maybe he'd like someone to smoke that pot with.  

[ Parent ]

+1 more fuel (2.80 / 5) (#41)
by A synx on Thu Mar 16, 2006 at 11:08:39 PM EST

Yes, more fuel to debunk the myth that parents deserve to raise their children.  Thank you sir!

Tell Joe about this place (3.00 / 7) (#43)
by trane on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 12:44:22 AM EST

He'd fit right in with us, the mentally scared.

That's true, my mind got burned when... (none / 0) (#44)
by Russell Dovey on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 03:12:44 AM EST

...I was two, by the sight of a hot pan of grease.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

well (none / 0) (#45)
by trane on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 03:42:59 AM EST

people are cruel. you don't have to have visible physical scars to become an outcast.

[ Parent ]
No, but if you make them yourself... (3.00 / 3) (#46)
by Russell Dovey on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 04:50:37 AM EST

...you can become a "tailored outcast", ie someone who deliberately excludes themselves from certain social groups because those groups suck.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

speaking for myself (none / 0) (#54)
by trane on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 01:31:47 PM EST

i WANT (or, given my biological make-up, HAVE NO CHOICE BUT) to exclude myself from anyone who would talk shit about this guy.

[ Parent ]
Damnit (1.00 / 3) (#106)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 05:02:42 AM EST

why did this have to be buried 3 levels deep. I almost missed this comment.
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
This story is so not true (none / 1) (#48)
by psychologist on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 08:34:40 AM EST

If I meet a person who is disfigured in any way, I do my best to help them. So do most people. It is natural human instinct to give the weaker members of society a better shot.

So what you want (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by Omaze on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 09:01:05 AM EST

Is a charity case to help you feel better about yourself.  You're not giving them a better shot.  You're giving them a shot just so that you can call attention to yourself..."See?  We gave him a shot.  He blew it."  Nevermind that it was a shitty shot, it was rushed, and twelve people were leaning on him while he took it.

That also explains the way Joe's been treated at his jobs. "You should be lucky we even employ you.  You ungrateful SOB.  Look.  We've given you a job.  You're the one who blew it when you dared to ask for an increase!"  Nevermind that it was a low-ball salary offer and Joe put in two years' of exceptional output.

Yeah.  I can see how you wish this story isn't true.  You'd like to think that the world is perfect and happy.

Life is what it is
[ Parent ]

To quote Chris Rock: (3.00 / 4) (#57)
by warrax on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 04:31:56 PM EST

Cut the fucking shit, okay?

If you do what you say you do, great, I commend you. Most people don't.

Natural human instinct my ass. Human instinct is very simple: Help only those who help the group/species survive.

-- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
[ Parent ]

Don't forget (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by Kasreyn on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 12:25:01 AM EST

"destroy anything that's different". Psychologist seemed to have missed that one as well.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Damn Americans (none / 0) (#95)
by psychologist on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 08:01:42 PM EST

The rest of the world help the disabled.

[ Parent ]
Bullshit. (none / 1) (#100)
by TheGaffer on Wed Mar 22, 2006 at 03:39:35 PM EST

As a European who has seen a lot of the world I can say that your answer is the most trite, ignorant thing I've read in a long time. The whole world shits on the disabled and the disfigured, in a lot of places worse than the yanks do. Here in Britain the overwhelming majority of disabled people are unemployed and regarded as unemployable. I've not been to any developed nation where obviously disfigured or disabled people aren't stared at and I've spent time in a lot of less-developed nations where the disabled are actively, aggressively shunned as cursed (or in the case of most 'benevolent' buddhist nations, shunned as the reincarnation of an evil person).
Poker for Linux, Mac & Windows
[ Parent ]
Old, but I'm not american. (none / 0) (#105)
by warrax on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 02:04:11 PM EST

Not by a long shot.

-- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
[ Parent ]
I see... (none / 0) (#62)
by Aphexian on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 08:04:53 PM EST

An altruistic psychologist... Why are there so many of you, when your training teaches you that such a thing doesn't exist?
Ahhh, grasshoppa...

[I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
[ Parent ]
Life is unfair, and it is ok. (none / 1) (#50)
by lukme on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 09:35:04 AM EST

Because, "Joe" could get a string of incredable luck and retire young.

It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
Congrats Omaze!.../nt (2.00 / 2) (#52)
by terryfunk on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 11:34:40 AM EST

I like you, I'll kill you last. - Killer Clown
The ScuttledMonkey: A Story Collection

What he said... (none / 0) (#53)
by superdiva on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 12:13:58 PM EST

also, Omaze, I have info to send you if you have a safe e-mail address.

Vote in Front Page poll: Best Scoop Writer for 2005
[ Parent ]
Do you K5 IM? (none / 0) (#79)
by Omaze on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 03:48:13 PM EST

Life is what it is
[ Parent ]
Yes. I'll PM you. (none / 0) (#81)
by superdiva on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 03:51:34 PM EST


Vote in Front Page poll: Best Scoop Writer for 2005
[ Parent ]
thank you, (2.50 / 2) (#55)
by th0m on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 01:36:42 PM EST

this was an interesting read.

the burned kid (3.00 / 3) (#56)
by cixcell on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 03:04:36 PM EST

I lived in southern california till about last year. I think it was back in the 80s there was a very popular media story, im not sure if it made national news or not but it was about a kid who his father set him on fire by pouring gasoline on him and tossing a match on him. He was severely severely burned. Back in the late 90s I was working for a blockbuster and one of our regulars who had alot of connections in the adult film industry told us how he knew the guy personally, felt bad about the whole thing so he helped the kid out by having a bunch of models and amateur porn stars sleep with him. I thought that was really cool of him.
yeah, because HIV would (3.00 / 2) (#70)
by livus on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 01:28:32 AM EST

take the guy's mind off of being a burn victim.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Not the same guy (none / 1) (#80)
by Omaze on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 03:50:24 PM EST

Joe had two girlfriends... two very pretty girlfriends.  He showed me pictures.  He really loved both of them dearly (you should hear the stories he tells) but both of them pretty much just used him as a toy and then got rid of him when a guy with more cash showed up.

After the second one dumped him his luck has been shit.  He hasn't been laid in nearly 10 years.
Life is what it is
[ Parent ]

Nice fiction.. (2.00 / 2) (#58)
by NightEyez on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 04:55:50 PM EST

This story is all made up, nice try. Joe showed to me the court papers,... Who carries around court papers in a pub anyway? Errr.. try again Shakespeare.

It was clear in his diary that he showed Omaze (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by bamcquern on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 06:41:17 PM EST

the court papers in his apartment.

The way the details come together in the diary seems very natural. Maybe he just had trouble organizing them for his story.

[ Parent ]

Well so? (none / 0) (#99)
by jolly st nick on Tue Mar 21, 2006 at 08:46:54 AM EST

Supposing it is fiction doesn't make it untrue.

I have a friend who had polio when she was around the age my daughter is now. She's in a wheelchair now because age finally is catching up with her, but for years she got around fine on a pair of Canadian crutches. If she was with somebody else, people would address her through that other person, as if she spoke a foreign language or something.

I think there is probably an atavistic reaction to anything which smacks of disease. In human prehistory, accident and trauma probably more often resulted in death. Thus infirmity takes on the character of uncleanliness. On the other hand, the human mind being what it is, this reaction can be trained out of it.

[ Parent ]

emergency road funds? (none / 1) (#63)
by nostalgiphile on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 11:13:00 PM EST

Wait a minute, are you a serial killer? Cuz if you are, that would put an altogether cool spin on things. Okay, this isn't fiction I realize, but maybe you oughta throw a curve ball in there and write it up as such for another venue.

Pardon these facetious remarks, just a curious Kuron with an overwrought imagination.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
Yes, emergency road funds (3.00 / 3) (#82)
by Omaze on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 03:53:07 PM EST

After you've been run out of three jobs you learn to keep a few thousand for the road when the next job fucks you over.

"Here's a job, it'll be great."

"Hm.  This job sucks.  Either you pay me more or I'm resigning."

"You ungrateful SOB!  You should be lucky we give you a job!  Not only are we not going to give you a raise, but we're not going to accept your resignation.  Not only are you fired, but we are going to f@%k you six ways to Sunday with every HR department we can call!"

So, yes.  I have emergency road funds.  A few thousand.  Enough to go camping.

Life is what it is
[ Parent ]

It would be really swell if Rusty (2.60 / 5) (#66)
by Sesquipundalian on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 01:12:41 AM EST

were to raise $70,000 for ol'Joe. We know he can.

Let's do it.

Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
I just saw (2.50 / 2) (#67)
by gibberish on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 01:14:02 AM EST

V for Vendetta. You better be careful or he will cut all your hair off and lock you in his closet.

fear of pain (2.62 / 8) (#71)
by cicatrix on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 02:41:57 AM EST

As far as I can tell, from this vast social experiement I've been informally conducting for the past 22-odd years, most people's reaction to the sight of heavy scarring or other "disfigurement" (oh, how I hate that word) is based almost entirely on their own imaginings of what the other person "must have gone through". These imaginings are almost invariably lurid and false. People are mostly secretly deathly afraid of having to deal with pain, or, god forbid, permanant scarring, and dislike any too-visible reminders of the fact that shit does, in fact, happen. This has the added result of making people completely disinclined to find out what actually did happen, probably because they're having too much fun visualising firey car crashes or a sordid past in organised crime.

I don't have any facial scarring, so my experience is markedly different from someone like the guy in this story, but I can say that the best way I've found to deal with this kind of situation is to be as relentlessly open about everything as humanly possible - get the conversation over with early, because you know the question they're just itching to ask, but are too afraid to.

If people are in a situation where they're hanging out with someone who has visible scars or other unusual physical characteristics, I strongly suggest that they just straight up ask the person why they look like that, as neutrally as possible. (i.e. try to keep the pity, negativity, and/or disgust to a minimum). I strongly doubt they'll freak out, and even if they do, hey, at least you know it's a touchy subject instead of just assuming.

I thought the story was pretty good, btw, the comments less so - but that's probably to be expected. I hope your neighbour gets a break sometime soon, sounds like he's overdue.

Stop abusing line breaks. (none / 1) (#74)
by New Me on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 01:59:00 PM EST

"He hallucinated, freaked out, his aneurysm popped, and he died. Happened to me once." --Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

welcome (none / 0) (#86)
by Blarney on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 08:38:36 PM EST

Welcome to K5. You can see from the comment below just what sort of level conversation here ends up on. Hey, good website, nice photos (yes, you are quite decorated), nice introduction, you have something to say and that is awesome too ... welcome to K5.

[ Parent ]
Very familiar (none / 0) (#88)
by Omaze on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:31:45 AM EST

Same pattern, same style of decoration as Joe... just not as much.  Joe wonders how she got hers.
Life is what it is
[ Parent ]
Legal Recourse w/Americans with Disabilities Act (none / 1) (#73)
by karson on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 09:41:31 AM EST

Joe should sue under Title I of the ADA, which provides that no employers:
"shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms."
42 U.S.C. 12112.

Joe should consider suing his discriminatory employer; a nice settlement could be procured before it ever reaches trial.

Works in some cases... (none / 1) (#76)
by CptPicard on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 07:25:35 PM EST

Anti-discrimination laws can work when you have a very specific grievance with your employer that can be argued about in court (pay issues, for example) and/or if you don't plan on working with this employer anymore, which means you can freely piss him/the company off.

Joe's problem is more a general social issue, an attitude problem of the people around him. It is very difficult to just legislate away. Try suing over that, and he is no longer the freak that gets treated like shit and bad-mouthed... he is the freak that gets treated like shit and bad-mouthed, who sued.

I know what I'm talking about -- I am a disabled coder myself. People's first reaction seems to be that they assume I'm intellectually deficient. I need to continously prove my worth to new people I meet, despite me being very much an above average person in capability. Fortunately I have always managed to defeat any worthwhile people's first impressions and have not ever had to deal with such systematic problems as Joe has... and I hope I never have to, it would drive me crazy...

[ Parent ]
Disability must be job related (none / 1) (#83)
by Omaze on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 03:59:04 PM EST

Joe has two working hands, two working arms, and two working legs.  Therefore there is no disability.

Disability can also be defined in discrimination--as in the disability is in being discriminated against.  To pursue that, though, one needs to be a member of a federally defined group.  Believe me... I've asked Joe about it... and Joe has talked with no less than two dozen attorneys over the years.

As long as you have two working hands, arms, and legs and are not a member of a federally defined protected group (woman, minority, veteran, gay, etc.)... there is no chance for a lawsuit based on disability or discrimination.  At least not unless you already have $30k banked and you feel like throwing lawyers at them just to harass them.

Life is what it is
[ Parent ]

moving on (none / 1) (#75)
by nateo on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 03:49:39 PM EST

This is a sad story.

It'd be more sad if Joe didn't have a trade, though. He's a research scientist... why doesn't he try relocating to a different city where nobody knows him and starting over? It's not like that's a profession where all jobs are concentrated in a single town or anything.

Has Joe considered moving to London or Seattle or Atlanta, waving goodbye to all the asshandles who treat him badly, and starting over? If not, for God's sake, why not?

If he were a burger flipper, he wouldn't have a lot of options. A bright guy with a saleable skill should have more freedom of action.

"I'm so gonna travel the world, photographing my dick at every location."
  - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi

Yes... yes... and yes... (none / 1) (#84)
by Omaze on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 04:03:24 PM EST

Joe has been sending out resumes since August of last year.  Joe has received a total of 5 telephone calls and no offers for interviews.

Maybe you don't really understand the pharmaceutical industry.  Whenever one company is looking at a resume, the FIRST thing they do is call all of the previous employers' HR departments "off the record".  This is how the story gets passed.

While there are laws against slander and laws against passing references which would prevent the employee from gaining gainful employment--these laws are very difficult (impossible) to enforce and extremely easy to get around.  The pharmaceutical industry especially has an unwritten rule--the official policy is "we don't give references" but no reference is a bad reference.

See how easy it is to get around the law?

Life is what it is
[ Parent ]

Excellent... (none / 0) (#85)
by nateo on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 08:21:28 PM EST

I believe that Joe cannot help but succeed. Not everyone in the world is an asshole.

"I'm so gonna travel the world, photographing my dick at every location."
  - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi
[ Parent ]
Easy to get around the law means easy to catch (3.00 / 2) (#98)
by Jah-Wren Ryel on Tue Mar 21, 2006 at 03:16:36 AM EST

There are reference-checking services that have as their #1 goal catching exactly that sort of game. They will call those HR departments "off the record" and gather the evidence required to take them to court for big settlement money. Its a couple of hundred bucks well spent if the situation is really as egregious as you make it out to be.

[ Parent ]
People are cruel (none / 1) (#77)
by Marvaud on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 08:17:26 PM EST

Interesting story. Very sad. Yeh, people do treat each other like shit. I'm not surprised if it's true.

Just the damn way that damn people behave (3.00 / 4) (#78)
by Blarney on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 01:27:54 PM EST

Yeah, sounds like the sort of thing that happens. I don't have a whole lot of social skills myself, and often have trouble fitting in. But I usually get my work done, and people seem to usually respect that. Still, it's pretty obvious to me that I have it easy - that discrimination is a very real and serious thing, and that people with disabilities really get it in the shorts sometimes.

I've known a few people who faced it. Once I had a roommate who was mildly retarded. He wasn't a pleasant guy, necessarily, he was a judgmental, childish, quarrelsome musclebound guy. Yet he didn't beat people up, although he easily could have, certainly that has to count for something! The main drama in his life was that "smart people" were always trying to cheat him out of what he deserved, which he imagined to be a very attractive, blond, blue-eyed virgin girl (I wonder if he intended to have sex with her, or just chastely sit around to preserve her status, he didn't always make a lot of sense) and a steady income of a few K per week from working at home. Needless to say, this guy always had to be prevented from spending his whole paycheck on envelope-stuffing scams and the like, to the point where we would regularly hide his postage stamps. He was, in fact, right! "Smart people" were always trying to trick him! He considered me one of the "smart people" and didn't trust me, although I honestly never messed with him, but he certainly had had a lot of bad experiences. And it makes you wonder about a society that tolerates this sort of industry that exists solely to exploit the retarded. Seriously, nobody with a triple-digit IQ believes that crap, so who is the targeted victim? Before I lived with this guy, I had no idea how pervasive this industry was. So I can't blame him for feeling picked upon - it is true, everywhere he goes "smart people" try to take advantage of him. I just hope he gets his virgin someday.

But at least people in general have the excuse of being able to believe that those of low intelligence do not feel things as acutely as those of us who have normal mental abilities - the myth of the happy retard. It's not necessarily true, but it lets us feel better. In the case of the physically disabled, people don't have that excuse, but still treat them badly anyway and I think it's a total shame.

Many years ago, I had a close friendship with an absolutely beautiful and quite-hardworking young woman a few years older than myself. She suffered from a spinal injury a couple years previously which had left her with poor coordination and balance, serious speech difficulties, and a serious case of depression. Although she had obviously been "rehabilitated", had returned to college, and was doing fairly well, people did have the idea that she was retarded although she wasn't. Not to mention that, in that particular place and time, people didn't feel at all inhibited from pointing and snickering when she was around. And there were people who did even worse to her, but I guess that's all kinda private. Needless to say, she spent most of her time at class, at work, or sitting in her room! There was a certain dormitory person who didn't like me spending time with her, who was always careful to remind me not to be molesting her, and who actually tried to set me up on dates with blind girls and other "nonretarded" disabled women! Pretty much made it clear that this friendship wasn't actually socially acceptable, and was going on my permanent record - damn, I hope it did! And I am still ashamed that I didn't introduce this woman to more of my friends, that we didn't go out and have the sort of good college fun we should have had, that she was allowed to stay socially isolated. So it's no surprise that we kinda stopped hanging out, is it? I am a total coward, I know that now.

She's got a husband now who seems to be treating her good - at least he isn't ashamed to be around her and resists any peer pressure - and she has kids, and has a church to hang out with, and it sounds like her life is not so bad as she tells it. But she is still depressed, and did she ever get to use the college degree she earned and still owes a five-figure debt for that she'll never be able to pay? No. Not even once. Every damn time she's gotten any sort of job, however menial, she has ended up being asked about her disability eventually. And upon explaining, she'll end up being assigned one 5-hour shift a week at the lowest wage doing some sort of cleanup that nobody will ever even look at, a charity thing to prevent A.D.A. lawsuits. And she'll blow up at them, and be fired, just like that! Every time. She has given up and gone on disability, because that is what society expects her to do. Obviously she is too retarded to do any productive work.... except she isn't. But hey. Housewife is at least an option for a woman. For Joe, a man, it's not so easy to just fade into the background, he has to earn his living...

I guess it just makes people nervous to see one of their own who is not normal, makes them fear and pity and want to get away. Guess it just does, it's instinct, but lots of evil behavior can be excused by "instinct", the whole point of morality and ethics is to overcome that...

At my current workplace, there is a young woman who needs to use a wheelchair when walking for any extended distance. Everyone is really nice to her. All the same, people get nervous. Her coworkers, after spending time with her, often somehow get onto the subject of permanent disability or disfigurement in subsequent conversation. It just always ends up that way. And I did hear some of her coworkers gleefully snarling (there is no other word) in the elevator the other day, about how she would just have to wait until they found a project she could "do" - well, I see her working and doing just fine, she is always cheerful and gives all evidence of working hard - but I do fear for her a bit. Because that is how people act. Even these good, well-intentioned, non-discriminatory, liberal-minded people here, they still get nervous. It's just how it is, and it's sad.

Some thoughts. (3.00 / 3) (#87)
by jd on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 10:32:00 PM EST

First, there are specialist cooperative on-line places specifically for recovery. They handle cases that would make Joe look fairly mundane. This is not, by any means, a put-down on Joe - rather the opposite. It means that there are definitely places with the resources and the experience to cope with such pain without running away into the night. That is a Good Thing to know.

Secondly, it matters not one whit if the "Joe" in the article is "real", per se - there will be thousands of "Joes" in America who fit the description and the advice remains the same. You need a support group. No-one is an island, no-one can function totally in isolation and as a total individual.

(Yeah, that's "Anti-American" in some regards, but the reality of the human condition is that we are social animals. We need community every bit as much as we need oxygen.)

Finally, moving can help, but it must be for the right reasons. Running FROM something never helps in the long-term. Recovery programs will sometimes refer to this as the geographic cure. Anyone attempting such a cure will simply manufacture the very same condititons they ran away from. It can help temporarily, but you've got to make damn sure you've addressed any issues within yourself in that timeframe.

A far safer strategy is to run TO something. To have a goal in mind, to have a plan to achieve that goal (which must include defeating internalized abuse which can prevent you), and to be willing to put in all the effort it will take to achieve that goal. Many recovery programs work on this kind of basis, by giving some very generalized goal (usually sanity) and a very generalized plan on how to achieve it (often a series of suggested steps).

As for what to do - well, research scientists are sufficiently in demand that nobody really needs to tolerate anything. I don't advise a lawsuit - the employer will find other ways to get rid of the Joes of the world, and lawsuits don't look good for getting hired elsewhere. It seems far better to hunt vigorously for better opportunities elsewhere.

Burns and other serious disfigurements can be a major problem, but they needn't be. It never hurt Nikki Lauda, although you can argue that he was famous already so it's not a fair comparison.

Biotech is one of those areas that's difficult, as you can't telecommute (where looks won't matter). However, it's also the industry of the moment and there'll be startups who don't give a damn what you look like.

WTF are you a democrat? (none / 1) (#89)
by Omaze on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 01:44:27 AM EST

> You need a support group

Cry me a river.

> Running FROM something never helps in the long-term

Nobody is running from anything except a lack of financial backing.  Don't democrats ever get it?  You patronize Joe all day long about coping, and dealing with pain, and "oh, we're here to support you and help you" in a lilting voice, and "oh, running away won't help, you have to face your problems" in a lilting voice...  But who's paying rent?

You sound so much like an employer sponsored EAP counselor.  You have the all the answers as long as the answers require nothing but talk.  Talk talk talk.  Because the EAP program is paying you to talk.  At the end of the talk you feel better about yourself.  But you've done nothing to help Joe.  You haven't figured out why he gets a low-ball salary offer (while you're collecting fair pay for your counselor talk--probably twice what Joe's getting).  You haven't figured out why the office managers are playing Joe like a pinball game (though you'll be happy to gossip about Joe's talk--somehow Joe's talk always makes it back to the managers through the EAP reports).  You haven't done a damn thing for Joe.

But we'll just keep talking.  Maybe that will solve everything.  Well if you want to talk you'll have to find me (and Joe) at the campsites because nobody can afford to pay rent around here anymore and, for all your talk about biotech, Joe hasn't seen any interviews, much less any job offers, in the last six months.

You know why that is?  The HR departments are hoping that the Joes in the world end up homeless and living out of tents.  That way, when a job offer does come along, they'll be ripe for yet another low-ball salary offer.

Life is what it is
[ Parent ]

The Why's are b* obvious. (none / 1) (#93)
by jd on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 05:59:56 PM EST

People like Joe are being taken for a ride because they can. Because the laws aren't strict enough, because everyone knows that bosses are far more likely to sympathise with each other than will an abused employee, etc.

The only way to fix things is to get rid of the free market, enforce a VERY high quality of management - where the laws actually mean something and where ethics isn't a dirty work, and to completely overhaul the entire moral culture in America from the elitist "perfect is everything" to an equalitarian system.

In other words, completely re-invent America, everything it stands for and everyone it lets stand.

That isn't going to happen. Not in my lifetime. Not in the lifetime of anyone on this planet. Not in the lifetime of those Bristlecone pines that can live 6,000 years plus.

Given that it's not going to happen, we have to make a choice. We could let people like Joe suffer, knowing that they do so in a way that is utterly unreasonable, unethical and totally self-destructive for society as a whole. That doesn't seem like a good option to me.

The alternative is to work out strategies which minimise harm without expecting social or political miracles. This is my approach. Look for what will work in the existing framework, given there's bugger all chance of there being any other you can work with.

I'm not strictly a Democrat. Rather, I am what the English would consider slightly left-of-center. There is nothing directly comparable in America, where anything left of a Corporate Dictatorship is considered Communism.

I regard American politics to be amongst the most degenerate on the planet. That doesn't bother me too much. I'm fortunate in that I don't have to care.

Likewise, I regard American industry to be over a hundred years behind the rest of the world, in terms of standards of employment. It is corrupt, it is Puritanical, and in many ways it is Satanical. America has a higher death rate due to working conditions than any other technologically advanced country. Unions are banned in many States - an action the British gave up around the time of King James.

It takes time to move an entire country several hundred years into the social future. No one person, no one blog, no one anything, is going to achieve that kind of change. If living with it as-is is impossible, then that only leaves changing oneself and one's situation to the best of what you can do.

[ Parent ]

Oh, one other thing. (none / 1) (#94)
by jd on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 07:09:14 PM EST

The methods I've used and seen used work. No other method in existance to this day (including "therapy") has even a fraction of a percent of the success rate. And it's not "just talk", it's about waging a campaign with the intent of success.

Fools rush in, and they achieve nothing. (Iraq was an example of how fools fight wars. An alchoholic is an example of how fools fight addiction. Anyone doing anything in total isolation is an example of how fools fight their own ineptitude.)

Strategists plan, set contingencies, and usually achieve considerable success. Odds are usually irrelevent when you plan ahead. But no sane strategist works alone or fights alone.

You tell me I'm a Democrat, but labels define nothing. They're just a bunch of symbols used by one group to denigrate another. I tell you that you're as much divided and conquered as any of the slaves of Rome. That is not a label, it's not even a denigration, it is a statement that you yourself have all but admitted.

The free remain free, regardless of circumstance. Those who have enslaved themselves will remain slaves also regardless of circumstances. The circumstances don't matter, it's what you do with them.

I'll tell you now that Joe could engineer circumstances in which he could have all the offers he could ever imagine, far more than he could ever read through - never mind answer. That's easy, when educated. (Those without education and credentials have a tougher time of it and probably can't get a job in modern society. The only solution there is for the Federal Government to invest enough in schools and Universities to guarantee the best education possible. Again, though, that's not going to happen, even though it would generate hundreds of times as much money as it cost.)

Nothing in six months is a sign of one of two things - an attitude of failure (which guarantees results), or he's in South Carolina (which rots the brains of its inhabitants). The first can only be fixed by changing perspective. The latter can only be fixed by crossing the border.

[ Parent ]

What are you, a Republican? (none / 0) (#102)
by McMick on Thu Mar 23, 2006 at 10:55:52 AM EST

And what do political parties have to do with any of this? Do you even know the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties? Of course, the major difference seems to be that Republicans like to kill things and Democrats don't -- except for abortion, which is the ONE way Republicans don't like to kill things (paraphrasing "American Dad" there). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_%28United_States%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29 P.S. In case your Democrat remark was meant to be insulting, the case today is that "Republican" is the insulting term, generally meaning an undereducated religious fanatic anti-American war mongering oil-grubbing treasonous criminal who deserves to be tried, convicted, and shot by firing squad.

[ Parent ]
People are bastards (2.50 / 2) (#90)
by nebbish on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 07:53:04 AM EST

Apart from you, apparently. Good for you for talking the time to talk to the man.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

A postal shooting in the making? (2.50 / 2) (#91)
by V on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 05:08:45 PM EST

This cannot end well.

A favorite part from Zarathustra:

"[...] Finally, my brothers, guard against doing wrong to any hermit. How could a hermit forget! How could he requite!

Like a deep well is a hermit. It is easy to throw in a stone: if it sinks to the bottom then tell me, who will bring it out again?

Guard against injuring the hermit! But if you have done so, well then kill him also!-

Thus spoke Zarathustra."

What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens

I have this friend named 'matameporfavor' (none / 1) (#92)
by killmepleez on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 05:44:28 PM EST

He feels that several things about this story simply do not add up.

"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
a lot of things in real life don't add up (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by Blarney on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 10:08:11 PM EST

in fiction, writers work hard to create a consistent setting. real life doesn't work that way.

[ Parent ]
I take a different view (none / 0) (#97)
by killmepleez on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 10:50:06 PM EST

Irresolution and paradox exist within each person moment to moment, but the overall direction of a person's life proceeds according to a knowable set of instinctual drives and personal motives. The nature of an individual human is often a mystery, but human nature itself is pretty straightforward.

The trick to being a writer is not the creation of a sterile and consistent setting ex nihilo, but rather borrowing one thread from the universe of potential stories and then narrowing the translating lens so that the reader only sees those elements which cohere and serve to underscore the writer's intent and creative direction. In real life, on the other hand, once you reach a certain level of awareness you become capable of imagining many of these possible motivations and explanations on your own, and it is therefore impossible not to perceive numberless infinities of inconsistencies scattered everywhere like crumpled pages in the author's wastebasket.

"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
People are garbage. (3.00 / 5) (#101)
by strlen on Thu Mar 23, 2006 at 12:20:07 AM EST

The author (even if this story isn't real, it nonetheless says something about the author if he feels empathy to join), however, is a notch above the cesspool that is society. People are cowards -- among the trash at the bar, there are surely numbers of people who do feel empathy to "Joe", but they are afraid to express it in any way, due to their own insecurity. "I better keep picking on Joe, keep spreading venom about them, for if I show any compassion to Joe, I will myself get the same treatment, for any slight imperfection I may have". This is pretty much how school bullying works: it is has been shown in studies, that kids join in on the bullying for the fear of standing up for themselves.

What is disgusting is that there are people comment to this very story, wallowing in their own smug rejection of this guy: "hihihihi, I think he may go postal, hihihih! May be he's one of those anti-social survivalists gun nuts too, secretly, hihi!".

Nonetheless, let everyone who would put down a person like "Joe" be reminded of their own hubris: news flash, you can't control everything that happens in your life; some idiot on yacking on a cell phone in a Ford Escalade Type-R or whatever the latest SUV monstrosity is called may just as well crash into you, and leave you just as burned as "Joe", while your insurance company would be more than happy to screw you over.

I repeat, people are garbage. Our current society shows more compassion to people who deliberately chose to ruin their lives (drug addicts, convicted felons) than to people who never did anything wrong. Through out my high school school experience, I've seen drug and alcohol abusing, property destroying "athletes" get the red-carpet treatment from their peers and educators, while kids who may have been gay, physically weak or simply not have been interested in sports/television/pop-music (or too interested in other topics) be put down, humiliated in the worst ways possible.

So next time, the typical over-socialized, television watching, every-night-bar-going "butterfly" asks you why you say or do things which are selfish, arrogant or "anti-social" (in the popular meaning of the word, rather than the psychiatric one), you needn't do more than show stories like this.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

Come on (none / 0) (#103)
by mrcsparker on Thu Mar 23, 2006 at 06:02:24 PM EST

Whenever I read a comment like yours, I always wonder if the writer is talking about him/herself.  You see, I think that people are actually pretty good, but - I actually like myself and I think that I am a good person.

People can be mean, selfish, and foolish.  They can also be wonderful and caring.  You can be mean, selfish and foolish or wonderful and caring.  Those people that you know that are weak - do you go out of your way to help them?  Do you offer them a helping hand?

[ Parent ]

People are amazing (none / 0) (#107)
by frozenfruit on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 01:05:54 PM EST

You are going to lead an unhappy life if you have the belief/attitude that people are garbage.

[ Parent ]
Very realistic (none / 1) (#104)
by JennyB on Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 01:48:59 PM EST

While reading this story I felt like I was one of those near Joe, watching him. I think, it will be very difficult for him to have the attitude he deserves. This is very sad story, full of people's cruelty, but sometimes the reality is even more brutal.

If you do not agree with the phases of the moon, get a ladder and repair it.

Truth (none / 0) (#108)
by festus on Fri Mar 31, 2006 at 02:09:58 AM EST

There is truth in this entry as well as some of the comments. Those of us with 20+ years "under the belt", have undoubtedly witnessed and experienced the cutting edge of social behavior. The exclusion of certain members of society (for whatever reason) is particularly cruel when it's done subtly. At least with the high school "cliques", you know exactly where you stand. There's a guy I've passed a couple times at work that has a dramatic birth mark on his face & neck. It's a deep purple dis-coloration that covers his face and neck. He's probably 5'5", wears thick spectacles, and seems to carry himself with no particular sense of pride or confidence. I've avoided eye contact with him in the elevator, and have noticed others doing the same. Why do I do the that? I'm going to say "hello" next time I run into him. Our lives are but vapors ... here, then gone. What a pity to spend our days so self-absorbed with image that we fail to love others ... especially those that need it most. This may seem "cliche", but as I get older I realize the triviality of pursuing wealth and power. The only thing we leave behind are the lives we touch, the relationships we cultivate.

It may be too late (none / 0) (#109)
by Omaze on Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 09:23:20 PM EST

What's particularly sad is that the fellow you speak of... if you do make an effort to say "Hello" to him... he may have been beaten down so much by society that his subconcious reactions will be to view your effort with suspicion--as if you're seeking to cultivate a relationship for the sole purpose of exploiting him as if he's your personal charity case.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs, but that's the way society is.

Life is what it is
[ Parent ]

OMG (none / 0) (#110)
by MissMatch on Sat May 13, 2006 at 03:40:22 PM EST

Man thats just plain wrong, cant 'joe' do anything about the not being paid issue, cant he still take his father to court who screwed him over? And man thats just how society/life is, i honestly feel sad for him, but the good thing to know is, the guy is not that sad and he has a positive outlook on life. Hopefully things get better for him.

Story of the guy next door | 110 comments (88 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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