.....and so the other shoe dropped. Memorial Day. I'm making bacon-wrapped shrimp jalapenos for the Memorial Day BBQ we are supposed to be at in a couple of hours....and Ward gets THE call. His last interview, as you remember, was on the Friday before Memorial Day. It was a weekend meant for remembering, celebrating and family gatherings and we were doing our best to not to remember what was going on. Even if it was just for a few days.......but that all ended with the call from the city adminstrator. I looked at him when he got off the phone. He said they wanted to see him and he grabbed his keys. No sooner was he out the door and I poured the wine. I knew this wasn't good. Everything we'd hoped, wished and prayed for was about to come undone. I just knew it. I felt it. It was there...in the pit of my stomach. And then....a little light. Maybe it was the glass of wine. Maybe, just maybe, really, they were going to tell him the job he had worked at getting for over 20 years was about to be his.
An hour...was it an hour? Hell, I don't know. Sometime later, he came in and hung his keys up. His back to me. Shoulders kind of down and I knew it! As he turned around, my eyes filled with tears, he said, "They went with the other guy." For the first time, in over 20 years, I had no idea what to say. I was completely at a loss. What could I say to this man I've loved for over 21 years? I had no words to fix it. Nothing that could ease what he was feeling. I was helpless. "No....why?" It was all I could manage to mutter. How could they do this to him? How? Why? Not only did they not elect to make him the chief, but he also could not have his position back as assistant chief. He would have to leave the police department at the end of June. Wha? Huh? What did he do? Why are they making him leave? The city administrator couldn't say. He was just the messenger. The message came from the Mayor. Was the Mayor there to tell Ward that he was sorry, but after 20 years of service to the department and the city, they decided to go with another candidate? No....he was probably off enjoying his Memorial Day barbeque! They, the city council and mayor, made the decision to go with the other guy on Friday and he accepted the job. Did they bother to give Ward a courtesy call? Hell no. The city administrator was leaving for vacation, to Hawaii, and had to let Ward know before he left. Nice! Thankyouveryfuckingmuch to the city for their tact and flippin gall!
And so....what now? I sat on the patio, drinking my wine. Trying to think. Now what? How could they do that to him? How? Just how? Why? No one can even say why. How is that fair? "You know, Ward, we appreciate what you've done, but this other guy....." They can't even point out to him why he wasn't chosen. You know? If he sucked as chief, that would be one thing. If he wasn't able to handle the job, I could see a reason for all of this. I know I'm biased. I'm his wife. But the guys? And the women? The one's who work for him.....they're just as dumbfounded. There's the few that are gloating. The one's who didn't like decisions that he made that didn't go in their favor, and that's understandable. When you're in charge, let's face it, you're probably going to make some decisions that piss some people off. And some people, although they are supposed to be adults, will turn into absolute assholes when you piss them off and will be hellbent on making your life just as miserable as theirs is.
As the days go by, it's settled in. It's not getting any easier, but the reality of it all is settling in. I still think, "Is this really happening?" I wake up and for a few minutes, I'm ok. I've kind of forgotten...and then it all comes back. The hurt for him, the anger at all of this, the disappointment and disbelief! Having to get up every day, go to work and go on. He still has to go in to work every day and face everyone. I don't know how he does it. He hasn't done anything wrong, but they've made it seem as though he has. He is a good man. But they've crushed him. They bruised his 20 years of accomplishments. He couldn't end it the way he wanted to and that sucks. He's worried about what will happen to the department. Wants to make sure everything is taken care of the right way when he leaves. Making sure that the guys know what he does, so they can let the new guy know. And then the anger and disappointment hits him, too. He's irritated. Irritable. All the while trying to hold his head up. It's enough to drive anyone crazy. He's talked of suing the city and all I can do is just look at him. Let him rant. Let him rave. This is his battle. But all the while, I am secretly hoping he doesn't. Let's just go. Let's not get caught up in all of this. A lawsuit? First of all, it's expensive. Second of all, how could you win? It's an at-will employment. He is not in the union and really has no recourse. The sad fact is, you can work your ass off for 20 years, not do anything wrong, and they can still let you go....
I've crunched numbers until I can't see straight. Telling him we will be fine until he finds another job. What? I'm supposed to tell him, sorry you lost everything you've worked for, but between the cut in what you will be taking home from your retirement pay and the cost of health insurance - we may just lose the farm on all of this! I'll make it work. Somehow! I've turned into the slushiest of lushes...and that isn't good. I'm Irish. Therefor, I come from a long line of alcoholics. Functioning alcoholics, but alcoholics nonetheless. So, I have to keep that in check. I get to work and stare at my computer and really don't know how all of this is happening, or what to do. 5 o'clock can't come soon enough. I can't get home fast enough. Get inside. Feel the comfort of home. The safety. And it's still there. This whole mess. And so, I have a drink. And start to think that everything is going to be ok. It'll all work out. I'm still not buying the cliches'. The "one door closes".....the "it's for the better"...."God's plan" - I want to be past this point so badly. I want to be happy, sitting next to the man I love more than peanut butter, and looking back at all of this as a memory. Not in the present. I don't want to deal with the present!
So....that sums up the last 11 days of our life! Just trying to put one foot in front of the other.....and keep the fridge stocked.
Pass me a glass, if you don't mind.