Cutting to the Core

A bad hair day away from a nervous breakdown

Having responsibility sucks! Well, not really, but kind of.

I was lucky enough to avoid that word for a very long time. Lucky I call it, but others might call it "bum-like."

When I got out of the Marine Corps I tried school for a while but ended up working for a construction company. This company for some reason had really big jerks in charge. It seemed like they weren't happy unless they were yelling at me. I mean, I couldn't do anything right. Nothing, zip, nada.

I was miserable. You see, I don't like hard, physical work and I especially don't like hard, physical work when I'm getting yelled at.

I had put up with this treatment for about six weeks, until I'd finally had enough. I was working up my courage to just walk off the job site when it happened. I broke the pointer off of one of my vertebras in my back.

The pain was instant. I don't know how it happened and I really didn't care. Once I went to the hospital and found out I would be OK and better yet, be on L & I, I was ecstatic. I would still be getting paid, I didn't have to go to work and get yelled at and I had plenty of pain medicine. Life was good.

Eventually, that gravy train moved on. My back healed and I went back to work for the construction company for one day. Then I quit. I had realized life is too short not to be happy. So I decided I was going to try to be happy.

Traveling made me happy but I would have to work to get the money to travel. I made sure I only went to work at places where I could quit at a moments notice and not regret it. I also wanted to make myself very valuable to the job so I could take off when I wanted to and they would still want to keep me around.

I found the perfect job. A bartender at a skid-row bar.

The people I served and worked with were....well, something else. Because I could add two plus two and I had all my teeth, I was well liked. I also made decent money with my tips. The biggest advantage... absolutely no responsibility.

I was able to travel once a year to some far off land and my employer would let me. I would tell them I needed to take a month off. I told them I understood that a month is a very long time and I understand if my job isn't available to me when I get back. They always said OK. They had no choice. I was probably the only bartender in the place that didn't rip them off.

That went on for a good amount of time until I started to approach my thirties. I was sitting on a beach somewhere in Thailand sipping a beer when I realized I couldn't have the life I really wanted working in dead-end jobs. I needed to go back to school. Slowly, responsibility was creeping back into my life.

I continued my good times in college and then moved to Thailand, where I still continued the good times. I had to get a job to pay off student loans and support myself though, and once again, more responsibility crept into my life.

Now I have a wife and a two month old baby at home. I have a job where I'm constantly on the go and have at least three things on my mind constantly. That's not including all the other stuff like diapers and baby wipes. For some reason I'm always thinking about those two things.

In short, I now have more responsibility than I ever thought about. I've never had a nightmare about all of the responsibility I've got. I guess I've finally grown up and it only took 36 years. Not too bad.

That's why I kind of flip-flopped in my beginning statement. Responsibility does suck, but not really.

I mean, I love my life. I have a beautiful wife and daughter that I love and adore very much. I have a job I enjoy and co-workers I like. I like my life now better than when I answered to no one. Having responsibility really is....OK.

But, sometimes, when I'm just a bad hair day away from a nervous break down, I sit back and think fondly about the days when my biggest worry was having no worries at all.

. Corey Russell can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or you can e-mail him at


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