Sunday, May 8, 2016

Spring Has Sprung, And Voting's Begun / Birthday Musings

This part was written last Tuesday, Primary Day here in Philly...

Today was another one of those days when I got a lot done. First, I figured out how to register my car here in Pennsylvania and I'm going to be dealing with that first thing tomorrow morning. Next, I hoofed it over to my local polling place and voted as a Philadelphia resident for the very first time.

On the way home I stopped at the liquor store and picked up a bottle of Patron Silver and some Margarita mix. Good thing I did too, because after what happened later, I'm gonna need it.

After stopping at the apartment to put the tequila and margarita mix in the fridge, I did a little shopping at the supermarket down the street.

Finally home again, I got a text from T-Mobile that my bill was almost due and I needed to update my payment information. I went to their website and did this, and while I was there, I noticed that my bill seemed a bit on the high side, so I checked the itemized bill and noticed that along with an installment charge for the new phone I just got, there was a charge for an unknown device, a device that apparently cost $299.99.

I called T-Mobile's customer service line and was told that the charge was for a set of Beats headphones I'd gotten along with the phone. I was told that I'd get a discount on these, but they'd actually charged me full price. The customer service rep told me that I had 30 days to return them so I said I'd head there immediately.

Many long tiring blocks later, I arrived at the T-Mobile store on Chestnut St. and said I wanted to return the headphones. The manager of the store refused, however, saying that the return on accessories was only 14 days. Needless to say, I was pissed.

On the walk back to the apartment, I called the T-Mobile customer service line again and told them what happened. They flatly refused to do anything for me.

Now, here's where it gets interesting.

By the time I got home, I was steaming. I went to T-Mobile's Facebook page and posted a warning about that store there. Within a few minutes I was talking to yet another customer service agent who had responded to my post. I told them what had happened and after a few private messages exchanged, the upshot was they gave me a 25% discount on the headphones. A royal pain in the ass to get to that point, but worth it in the end I suppose.

The next thing I did kind of surprised me. I applied for a job at T-Mobile. Yes seriously, not kidding, and let me tell you they have an application process that checks you out like you wouldn't believe. It took me a couple of hours to get through the whole thing. It'll be interesting to see if I get a call from them.

This part was written the day I actually got around to finishing and posting the thing.

So today, May 8th, is my 54th birthday. In all honesty, I never thought I'd survive long enough to get this far. When I was a teen and young adult, I was sure that sooner or later I'd overdose on something and kill myself. By the time I was about to turn 35, I was suicidal and tried to kill myself by driving a van into the side of a bridge. I came really close, too. Another split-second and I'd probably have done it.

Now here it is 2016, and I'm still alive. Not only am I still alive, but I've accomplished a lot in the 19 years between the time I tried to end my life and now. I wish I had more to show for it financially, of course, but I'm ok, at least for the moment anyway.

I still think about it now and then. Depression is something I have to guard against constantly. Even though I now live in a major city in a state where it's pretty easy to purchase a gun if I wanted one, I'll never allow myself easy access to a lethal firearm. I've still got far too much to do, and I know that just one moment of weakness, just one, could lead to something tragic. While there are certainly other ways to end your life if you're serious about doing so, guns just make it far too easy for me to risk having one around.

The truth is that as I get older, particularly around birthdays, I find myself thinking about the fact that I won't be around forever, that statistically speaking I'm closer to the end of my life than the beginning. Knowing that and understanding it changes you. It makes you think about the past and the future. It makes you wonder about the value of your life, if you've managed to make a difference. Maybe most of all, it makes you wonder how much time you have left and what you're going to do with your life until your time is up.

Being a suicide attempt survivor changes you too. I know what it feels like to want to die, but I also know what it feels like to want to live, and to have made a conscious choice to continue living. It's why I care about suicide prevention and why I even have reminders of my desire to keep living tattooed on my body.

19 years ago, sitting in the driver's seat of a van, covered in chunks of safety glass, parked next to a small girder bridge where I'd just tried to end my life, I made myself a promise, and so far I've managed to keep it. It hasn't always been easy, but it has gotten easier, and it gets easier still every single year. Why? Because every year I have more to look back on and smile about, and because I know how much I would have missed if I hadn't saved my own life that day.

Only an idiot would try to argue that anyone's life, including their own, keeps getting better every single day, but at the same time, only the most shortsighted of fools would try to argue that it never can.