On holiday stress and not feeling like myself lately

by Brian Clarey

I’m having a hard time keeping it together.

My car has already cost me a couple hundred bucks and stumped a mechanic who’s been fixing cars for 20 years; still she will not budge from my driveway, yielding only a few rheumatic coughs when I crank her.

Christmas approaches quickly, and while I negotiate a family drive back up to the old homestead, I’m wondering how I can manage my workload, satisfy all my familial obligations and somehow manage to pay for it all.

The weather’s getting cold, which makes me cranky, and my DVR keeps missing my favorite shows – I’m so far behind on “30 Rock” it’s pitiful – and there are parties and events on the horizon that I cannot avoid.

And then, about a week ago, some son of a bitch went and stole my bank card.

These events are not unrelated. If it weren’t for the decrepit status of my car I would have never needed to take a ride in my colleague’s car. If I wasn’t so stressed about the holidays, I would never have left my bank card in said vehicle. And the person who broke into Jordan Green’s car that night… I’m pretty sure I can blame that on George Bush.

I didn’t realize something was amiss until five days later, when I noticed strange activity in my checking account. It took me another day to put it all together.

And yeah, I feel violated, but not nearly so much as if the guy had broken into my house. I’m really more embarrassed, I guess, and certainly I feel shame at the purchases this douche made in my name.

The first thing he did – and I’m not sure if it was a guy who did it, but I need to assign the culprit a gender so I can write a bit about him without having to worry about gender-neutral pronouns – anyway, the first thing he did was buy $100 in gas. Okay. That’s fine. Gas is expensive. But if this guy was really down on his luck, he could have asked me, and maybe out of the goodness of my heart I would have filled up his tank.

Probably not, though.

On the second day my boy starts to get down, starts to really employ the hard-won dollars in my meager checking account, starts doing the kinds of things he had always wanted to do if he ever found himself a hundredaire.

First stop: Hardee’s, to procure a feast that cost $25.79. That’s like five four-dollar burgers with a shitload of fries. Then it was off to a Taco Bell in Reidsville for a modest repast that billed out at $24.45. For the uninitiated, $25 worth of Taco Bell wouldn’t fit in an airplane carry-on bag. This was shortly followed by a $23.49 McDonald’s tab. Later there was another trip to McDonald’s and a jaunt to Wendy’s for meals cheap enough that I won’t be reimbursed for them by my bank, so the guy literally ate my lunch. At some point he went for a car wash.

Was this guy living large, or what?

Seriously, at least I’d respect the guy if he got himself a nice steak, maybe a haircut and a decent pair of shoes, if he spent a couple nights in a nice hotel room or, what the hell, shot down to Mexico and just went to town.

I want to find this guy, if he’s not dead yet – and if he ate even 10 percent of all that crap he bought, he may very well be. I want to find him just so I can look him in his big, fat face (okay, maybe I’m profiling here, but I’m putting this guy at 300 pounds, minimum), and get a gander at what a real scumbag looks like.

Also, I want to punish him.

You want to be me, fat guy? You want to steal my identity? (okay, maybe he didn’t technically steal my identity, but I need it as a device and I promise I’m going somewhere with it)

Okay, big fella, now you have to be me for an entire week.

You get the kids out of bed and off to school in the morning. You hump it into work and make sure the job gets done. You spend your evenings making dinner and washing dishes and packing lunches and folding laundry and reading bedtime stories and hoping your damn DVR didn’t screw up and miss an episode of “30 Rock,” which you’ll watch for 20 minutes before passing out on the couch from sheer exhaustion. You deal with my car and my bank and the endless lists of holiday preparations; you make sure it all goers down without a hitch.

I’ll grab my wife and get out of town – yeah, she’s coming, because she’s an injured party here, and you gotta do all her stuff while we’re gone, too. Wait until you get a load of her to-do list. We’ll head south, maybe back to Cozumel where we’ll sip Coronas on the beach while picturing your fat ass under constant, heavy stress.

Only we won’t be doing it on somebody else’s dime.

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