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The Very Drunken Caterpillar March 21, 2013

Posted by therealtinlizzy in so that happened.
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So yesterday brought an unexpected bit of excitement to the day, and not of the good kind, but then again – perhaps it played out for the best in a bigger-picture sort of sense, and happily with no harm having come to anyone. I detail it here because writing is a good way for me to process/chew things over, even though I’ve already well-chewed things over with my sig, but also feeling free to do so as I can nearly guarantee that the individual involved will remain unknown/anonymous to anyone reading this. Also – any real or perceived sassy/lightheartedness about any of the ensuing events is because it turned out all right, and well – viewing some things in life thru the glasses of humor is one way I process things.

So we have someone come clean our house every two weeks. Why? Because we would rather forego most all other special nice time things in life short of food or the actual roof over our heads than spare the time required to keep at bay the ever encroaching entropy resultant from three Very Furry Caterpillars, one Very Chaotic Caterpillar, and one Not At All Messy But Who Doesn’t Want To Clean Up After The Rest of the Menagerie Caterpillar. So yeah – we unabashedly pay moneys for someone to clean our house every two weeks.

The Very Chaotic Caterpillar (me)

credit: Eric Carle

As a side note – the org we go through to acquire cleaning folks is beyond super duper wuper awesome, we’ve had a number of rockstar wonderful folks from there cleaning up after us and I would mention them by name here if I weren’t poised to detail a “so that happened” involving one of their (now former) employees. Just know that they made everything right on my end with the sitch, as well as showed extreme sensitivity and kindness to the individual involved. So if at some point you’re all “day-um – wish MY house could have special cleaning nice time once in awhile a la magic faerie pixies” give me a holler directly and I’ll tell you to look these folks up. See how you’re all resentful panda now at the dust monsters and dog/cat-hair tumbleweeds choking your house?

So the woman who’s been cleaning our house took over in February for an adorable and sweet but total-stoner of a hipster who, while very nice was – well, a total stoner. And if by some sliver of extreme improbability she was not in fact a total stoner, she could certainly play one on the teevee and she should look into that as a career move.

Anyway, after a couple months of stoner-girl who couldn’t find her way out of a weed haze long enough to make sure all 3 dogs were let back in the house before she left without locking the door – let alone manage to clean a few things, the woman who replaced her was a dream come true. See – the thing is, we know we are utter nonsense people to clean for. There are dogs, there are dog stuff, there are papers and books and bike and bike gear and winter gear and piles of study stuff and just stuff (mostly my stuff). Now – do not mistake us (me – really) for hoarders or clutterers – I’m not a holder-onto-things, I’m an overlooker-of-things, and – well a scurrier – so much scurrying around and it’s easy to forget to put stuff away. But I digress, this isn’t about my chronic battle with Chaos.

So everything has been dreamy for a couple months; when I come home after (I’ll call her Lindsey Lohan; and not Lindsey Lohan gone all epic train wreck, but Lindsey Lohan when she was still just a nice kid) Lindsey Lohan has been there, I want to weep tears of joy for how nice she’s been to wrangle the chaos and let the pups out and we can exist for at least a day or two in a peaceful bliss of Clean House Zen that’s totally special nice time.

Yesterday I came home, almost a couple hours after Lindsey would have left, saw the pups in the backyard and thought “huh – Lindsey must have come late today” which isn’t unusual.  I walked in, heard the radio on, and was just going to holler a hello when I looked over and saw Lindsey lying unconscious in the dining room.  I went into action mode and first checked that she was breathing and warm (which she was) and quick tried to rouse her carefully without moving her. She appeared to have fallen into/against the one table, which was knocked askance, and was laid out between both tables with her head almost in the corner, so I needed to move chairs and tables out of the way just to get at her.

Just then her phone rang, which was falling out of one her pockets – so I grabbed it and saw “Justin*” (*not really Justin) on the screen and I answered to find a worried boyfriend bewildered and wondering what happened to his girlfriend whom he hadn’t been able to get a hold of for a couple of hours. He said he was in the area so I told him to come over, that Lindsey was unconscious and that I was calling an ambulance as soon as I hung up with him as she was still not waking up.

So I called 911 for some first-responders, and while EMTs were sent, the nice dispatch lady stayed on the phone – which was very logical and helpful. However – they might consider training dispatchers to actually listen to what the person on the other end of phone is saying, rather than just rote reading off a script. I told the nice lady probably 5 or 30 times that “yes – I can see/feel/hear that she’s breathing steadily” while she continued to direct me to perform yet a different method to ascertain whether she was breathing and asking me if I had access to a portable defibrillator (“um, no I don’t have one of those in my house – but she is breathing so it appears her heart is working fine for the moment”).

At any rate – I was performing the requested “put one of your hands on her forehead and the other under her neck to open her airway” which ended up turning her face up towards me, at which point I was hit with a blast of liquor fumes – wait whaa…seriously?  I heard the EMTs pull up outside and right about that moment Lindsey’s eyes opened and started rolling around in what turned out to be an incredibly drunken fashion as she tried to get her bearings and started slurringly apologizing for laying down for a nap. I hung up with dispatch as the EMTs hustled in and took over helping Lindsey up and into a chair while they started their vital signs routine. I took the 3rd EMT off to the side and explained  “uh – just realized that she’s totally liquored up.”

Meanwhile Lindsey had regained enough of her wits/consciousness to provide the EMTs with the pertinent info they requested, and they appeared to be convinced she didn’t need to be taken anywhere by ambulance. I asserted that she had a ride coming and wouldn’t be going anywhere on her own, and so off they went in their shiny red fire truck.  Just then Justin came busting up the front steps and in the door, I explained that Lindsey was ok but that she needed a ride home and confirmed he was ok doing so. I helped her get her bag and bits bundled up to go, at which point she was all apologizey and embarrassed. I told her that it was cool – what mattered for the moment was that she was safe and we’d worry about other stuff later, then sent them on their drunk/dealing-with-drunk way.

I finally let the pups in, who’d been out in the cold for a couple hours likely, but being furballs they were fine. My adrenaline and “everyone just stay calm” mode started to ebb, and I sat down and took stock of what the hell just happened. I called @snipy with “uh, so this just happened…”, and after she poked holes in my initial bleeding-heart “this doesn’t mean we have to call her bosses right…?” notions, I realized that yeah this was going to necessitate some confrontation with Lindsey and letting her company know the story. I felt horribly conflicted because I figured that this is a good kid who clearly had a bad moment of falling hard off the wagon, or perhaps hasn’t yet even found her way onto the wagon, and I worried that cluing her company in about the whole thing would result in her being fired, and possibly set off a chain of events that perhaps would lead her away from getting her life together.

But I felt responsible for informing the company/owners too, and additionally it’s owned/run by people I respect and who have always been good to me. And even if not for the knowing/respecting them bit – it would have been irresponsible of me to leave them clueless given both that they’re ultimately responsible for their employees actions (they bond/insure their folks), and that this could happen to someone else. So I called an left an epically long voicemail to explain.

Also ascertained after @snipy got home later in the evening was the substantially decreased volume of one of her bottles of scotch on the dining room table.

After sleeping on it, and getting a text from Lindsey asking if she could make it up to us, and would I not let her company know, I told her I’d already let her peeps know and that I’d bundle my thoughts into an email to explain where I’m coming from, which ended up being this:

Ok – hear me out. First off – I felt and still feel all sorts of conflicted about this. On one hand I wanted to make like it was no big deal (trust me – I’m pretty fucking unflappable) and just talk things out – suss out what your story is and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. And I have zero interest/intent in shaming you or making you feel bad or forcing you for some big awkward/painful convo or wrecking your shit with [your company]. Fuck – we really like you and have been doing the happy dance since you came in and took over cleaning.

On the other hand – I’m really worried about you, and I’m sort of a ridiculously frank and honest person who has to have it out on stuff like this (not like this in particular is a regular occurrence for me), not just sweep it under the rug. And the [company] folks are solid acquaintances/contacts of mine who I feel responsible and loyal to as much as I think they feel loyal and responsible to me. You could say “how nice for you [] for wanting to be all kumbaya restorative justice on this, but I could give a fuck and I’m just worried about my fucking job now thanks.”

That’s fair. I do NOT want to be the asshat responsible for you being out of work or losing out on a cool gig like [this]; I also don’t want to lose another person awesome at cleaning our house of nonsense and chaos.

But I also need to learn more about where you’re coming from, honestly, and truly what the deal was yesterday. Not so I can be aghast at you bogarting some scotch or drinking so much that oops you passed out, but because that kinda thing – downing some scotch and passing out in such a context isn’t s/thing that generally happens as a one time thing out of the blue for no reason. I’ve been around for awhile, dealt with more than a few alcoholic relatives, friends and a prior girlfriend, and I know it doesn’t usually work like that. And you’re not an 18 year old going to your first college party and having no idea what liquor’s impact on your body is or your what your tolerance is. Or maybe you just really have had little/no experience and this was just a harmless first time experiment that went awry. Hell – I was all into Jesus in my early twenties, so I didn’t get drunk for the first time in my life until I was 30. Really.

So – all that to say, yes – I left a msg with [your company] last night, gave them the story, because I felt/feel responsible to them for their biz and their responsibilities, tho I didn’t say you drank anything here – just that I was worried about you, and that clearly we need to have some convo about stuff and figure out where you’re at. I mean, again – no shaming or mad here – but the place could’ve burned down yesterday and you were so out of it that you’d have gone with it.

So yeah – take some time, let me know what you think. I can’t speak for [your company] or what their take will be. But before I would have you back to clean (and I really would like to), you and I would need to have some frank convo about what your story is and what you need to do to take care of yourself, no glossing over things or being all “no really it’s fine, I’m fine.”

Lindsey called her company peeps shortly thereafter to fess up to things, and the owner called me shortly after that, absolutely mortified and apologetic about what went down, knowing they had to be hardline and let her go over this, but concurring with me in worrying/hoping/not-wanting this to lead Lindsey’s life going off-rails because of a one bad situation (but clearly just one in a chain of some other bad choices and/or addiction issues that she needs to work out).

Sounds like while Lindsey feels horrible and has indeed lost this gig, the owner was able to be kind and very sensitive and rather mentor-y with her about it all.

Yeah – I could have just called and yelled at the company, told them to get us a new person to clean and washed my hands of the whole thing – but I have this restorative-justice/bleeding-heart thing that when people make bad choices that involve or impact me, I feel compelled to get to the bottom of it, and do everything possible to provide a softer landing for them to regain their footing on. And I don’t mean fix/solve their problems (not my job) or negate consequences they need to experience on their own, but sometimes just provide the non-judgmental conversational or emotional space people need to get a grip and be able to assess themselves honestly, even if just for a minute. Folks still have to do their own work, figure out and navigate their own shit. But s/times a catalyst or a space in time to exist can matter. S/times it doesn’t. But we all do better when we all do better, and this sort of thing is one of the ways it works itself out for me.

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