Sunday, January 24, 2010

How Hardy Ruined My Life

Photographic evindence Hardy
has stolen Erin


I used to be happy and fulfilled while living in my box here at the Las Americas. That is until Hardy began to take over.
At one time I enjoyed the love and respect of my fellow neighbors, my case managers, and other staff that may have happened to pass by. Erin, my lovely case manager, at one time called me her "favorite client." We would eat at the Hippie Kitchen every Tuesday morning (I should have suspected Hardy then, as I always saw him there, mixed in with the crowd of degenerate homeless people, staring at us with obvious envy). "I'm soooo excited about going to the Hippie Kitchen tomorrow, Rick," she would chirp at the Monday Garden Club. She used to read this blog on a regular basis (I know she doesn't read it any more because she never expresses outrage at all of the shocking things I write about her), and return my Emails pretty much as I wrote them to her. We'd go to McDonalds on occasion to dine on McGriddles, greasy hash browns, and hot coffee while talking about our personal lives, dreams, and aspirations.
No more. None of that exists today. And why?
I don't know how it happened. Lord knows I've tried to maintain my status and the benefits thereof. But everything has changed now... and I'm afraid, changed forever.
The following is a theoretical conversation I plan to have with Erin and case manager Paul tomorrow morning in their office before the Garden Club convenes at 9:00AM. Of course by then the conversation will not be theoretical... it will be a real conversation... and I'll have to get there early... at about 8:30 or 8:40, or so...
Before Hardy comes.
I will knock on their door.
"Come in..." I'll hear from deep within.
"Hi Erin."
"Hi Rick."
"Hi Paul."
"Did you get my message, Erin?"
"Did you bring the DVD for my niece's birthday?"
"I forgot... maybe tomorrow."
"Nothing." I'll take a seat between their desks.
"I needed to ask you guys something before the Garden Club starts," I'll tell them.
"Yeah," Paul will say. "We were going to put up a sign, Rick."
"A sign? What sign?"
"That Garden Club would be canceled today," Erin would say.
"Canceled? Why?"
Erin continued, "Today I'm taking the winner of the 'Case Management Appointment Contest' out to breakfast."
Both Paul and Erin had held lotteries, so to speak, for those who made case management appointments with them last month, and who had actually shown up for those appointments. Those names would be put in a random drawing and the winner would get to go out to breakfast or lunch with their respective case managers. Big thrill.
"Yeah... so," I said. "You'll still be here Paul... right?"
"I'm going to go along with them and hang out."
"Oh. May I ask who the winner is."
I waited a while.
"Well, who's the winner?"
"Oh," Erin said. "Hardy won."
At this point I'll take my lovely friend Michelle's often offered advice, "Breathe Rick, breathe."
"You see," I'll continue, "that's exactly what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Okay," Paul said, "we've got a few minutes before Hardy gets here. Go ahead, shoot."
"Paul, I want to sign up on that list to get a free bike."
"What list? What are you talking about?"
This whole thing came to the boiling point yesterday, Saturday morning, when I was returning to my box with a nice plate of beans and salad from the Hippie Kitchen, passing Hardy as he stood outside the front door, like he always does, smoking and monitoring traffic.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey Hardy, how's it going?"
"Hey I got a free bike now," he said beaming.
"A free bike? Wow, that's great. How did you get a free bike?"
"Paul got it for me... you know, at that clinic."
"Yeah. It's up in my room right now."
"Wow, that's great Hardy. Ah, I'll see ya later."
I went up to my box, and placed my plate of beans and salad on my desk. Just as Hardy anticipated, I couldn't get what he had just told me out of my head. I went back downstairs.
"Now let me get this straight, Hardy. You went to the bike clinic and Paul gave you a free bike?"
"Yeah. We came back here and there were three bikes in the basement. One just had a flat tire, and Paul asked me if I wanted it. We took it back to the clinic and filled it up and it stayed."
"Really. I went to the clinic too. As a matter of fact I was there before you were. Maybe I can get one of the other two..."
"Used' em for parts, Paul did."
"Oh... well that's great Hardy. I'm glad for you."
I returned to my room and sobbed for the rest of the day.
Back in the office:
"I'm talking about the list to get a free bike, like Hardy got. You must have a sign up list, right?'
"Well, not really, he was just..."
"Yeah, there at the right time. Is that what you were going to say?"
"Well yeah."
"Hardy is always just there at the right time," I continued, beginning to get agitated. "The freaking guy spends his entire life out in that lobby, twenty-four seven, waiting for you two to come out and ask him to do something. Of course he's going to be there at the right time."
"Now Rick..." Erin would say.
Breathe Rick, breathe.
"Oh, don't you start Erin. I know he's taken you away from me."
"What are you talking about?!"
"I used to be your favorite. We'd go to the Hippie Kitchen. We'd go to McDonalds. You'd read my blog for Christ's sake. Not anymore."
"Now Rick."
"When was the last time you've read my blog, Erin? Honestly?"
"Well, I've been very busy Rick."
"Yeah, you've been busy playing dominoes with Hardy! It's Hardy this. It's Hardy that. Hardy can I get you some cream for your coffee? Hardy! Hardy! Hardy!"
"You know... I understand. How can a guy like me compete with a guy like Hardy?... with his cool demeanor, those sparkling teeth, they're false you know! That gritty sense of humor... why sometimes even I fall under his spell!"
"Rick, come on," Paul said, "I think you're making..."
"Oh, and you. When we're in the supermarket you're all gaga over him. 'Hardy. What a classic.' you say. And you take him everywhere! Hardy let's go to Home Depot. Hardy, Let's go get some pizza. Hardy, let's go get frozen yogurt. Hardy let's go to Black Angus. Hardy, let's go to Vegas for the weekend..."
"Rick we never went..."
"Now hear me out you two. I try to help you guys as much as I can. Who brings you movies for movie day all of the time?"
"You do, Rick," Erin answered.
"Who attended all of your groups when no one else would?"
"You did, Rick," Paul answered.
"Who suggested free field trips to the museum?"
"You did Rick," they both said.
"Right! I did. And what do I get for it? I get Erin going, 'Thanks Rick,' in that high squeaky voice of hers. 'Thanks Rick.'"
"Work all day for Thanksgiving dinner. You two were getting paid for that. I wasn't. What did I get after seven hours slaving over a hot stove... 'Thanks Rick.'"
"After Movie Day each week where you get movies that are still in the freaking theaters, what do I get... 'Thanks Rick, thanks Rick, thanks Rick.' I even freaking empty your trash can, for God's sake! You guys are taking me for granted."
"I like to go places too. I'll tell you what. I can move my computer down into the lobby and be as available as Hardy is. I can get used to watching CSI, and Law and Order. Or if you don't like that, all you have to do is call me and I'll come right down. You both have my number. I can go to Home Depot, just call. I can walk you out to your car when you leave from work, Erin. I can come with you Paul when you go get free bikes from the basement. Just call. That's why I come to these meetings, to get out of my box for a while, that's why. Just call."
"Rick," Paul said. "I think you're making too big a..."
"And Erin, how could you? I wrote blogs for your mother and best friend, for Christ's sake! I thought we had something... and now Hardy's your favorite."
"I don't think I can live with the shame, Erin. I think it's seppuku time to be quite honest with you, the Japanese form of ritual suicide by disembowelment. I think It's come to that."
"Now Rick," Erin said, "you always threaten seppuku when you don't get your way...
"Paul, I can't trust anyone else. Would you do me the honor of being my Second. After I make the last cut will you lop off my head so I don't disgrace myself by showing pain?"
"Rick... let's talk this over," Paul said. "We appreciate how you help out around here, and maybe when a bike becomes available we can get you one, but that's not what this is all about, is it? You can't expect us to reward you for those things you do. That's not how it works. Now what do you really want?"
"I've just told you..."
"Rick... come on, tell us."
"Well... how about a cut from each of your pay checks on a continuous basis..."
Out in the garden Paul struck true and strong, the blade whistling as it sliced through the air. He was so eager to do a good job he didn't even wait for me to make the first cut.
Curse you Hardy! Curse you to hell!

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