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I’m not used to having lots of options in my life. I’m currently weighing a few of them. My girlfriend and I rent a really fantastic apartment in the small downtown area of our little town. Our town is on an island that’s a short ferry ride from Seattle, Washington and its generally considered quaint, charming, pretty and peaceful. Because rich people tend to take things like that and turn them into boisterous orgies of materialism, it has become all of those previous adjectives plus expensive, crowded, rude and noisy. Not all the time, just some of the time. Like right now.
This Saturday morning, after my hippie breakfast of locally farmed eggs, organic bacon and Chemex brewed coffee, I walked up to the farmer’s market to buy some produce and on my return I strolled by my workplace. What a life. I live in a great and affordable apartment that’s one of the last in this town and a real gem. Above a quiet business! No neighbors! It’s less than a minute from my job working in a fantastic and impressive French restaurant and across the street from a family owned grocery store. The thought occurred to me that “I deserve this.” For the first time in my life I have been sober for over three years, I pay my bills on time, I’m honest with everyone, I work two jobs (one as an unpaid intern at a mental health agency), I’m a student who makes the dean’s list and will be attending a top-rated graduate school in the fall. I have been working very hard for three years. I deserve this.
Suddenly, my deserved glory is undeservingly shattered by a car alarm. A car alarm that goes off repeatedly… Forever... And ever.
I leave the apartment again and go to the grocery store to buy what wasn’t available at the farmer’s market and I see the culprit. A luxury SUV is parked on the busy main street and the owner has left his tiny dog inside. The dog is frightened and every time he jumps around the car it sets off the alarm for another 30 seconds. A litany of offenses scrolls through my mind. Offense 1, leaving the dog in the car. Offense 2, general obliviousness of how your actions affect others. Offense 3, owning a luxury SUV in the first place. Offense 4, fucking up my perfect morning.
The first three offenses are pretty bad, but the fourth one is the only one I really care about. I mean, really. How dare you? Don’t you know how much I deserve, nay, demand perfection on Saturday morning?
Enter my list of options. I could bring a pry bar down to the street and pop the hood and disconnect the battery. I could break a window and set the dog free. I could wait by the car for the owner to return and shame them publicly and loudly (that’s the one I most want to do). Or I could do what I’m doing and write this all down and laugh at myself. Laugh at my own intolerance. Laugh at my inability to accept a changing town and world. Laugh at my ability to forget that just three-and-a-half years ago I was vomiting all over this town figuratively and literally.
I don’t believe in Karma. The Western interpretation of Karma always seems to imply that if I put good into the world, I should always expect to get good in return. This is folly and I know it because good people have terrible things happen to them every day. It seems evident to me that there is much injustice in the world and I feel it’s my duty to stop contributing to it. Yes, a part of me believes strongly that I deserve to have peaceful Saturday mornings. Certainly all people deserve forgiveness and even happiness. But I also have to accept that I deserve my share of car alarms as well.
Kevin T. Roberts is a pseudonym for a writer in recovery from alcoholism and addiction living on an island in the Puget Sound. He works as a waiter and a counselor at a harm reduction mental health and drug abuse treatment agency and is earning a Masters of Social Work at the University of Washington. He thanks you for reading his blog entries.