I don’t know how to start this, and I don’t know what to put in here without it sounding sappy, cliche, pathetic, and weak. I’ve been sitting here for hours trying to wrestle if this is even a good idea, but I figure this won’t even work and I’m now at the “fuck it” phase…so here we go…
I’ll start out by being straightforward and saving you from having to read this all. I’m asking for help. It’s now safe to click on to the next post.
I’m also not going to drop specific names or locations because I am a very private person so putting this out on the internet is very jarring for me. Even if only 1 other stranger reads this is already giving me anxiety. :/
I am a veteran and was in the Army for 7 years; straight out of high school. I specialized in IT systems analyst but I was basically just a glorified helpdesk tech for the generals. Don’t get me wrong, I knew my shit and was usually one of the best at it whatever duty station I was assigned to. I loved every second of it, but after two deployments in Iraq and hurting my back during my last tour it became impossible to stay in and was honorably discharged but I got screwed over in the process due to the uniqueness of the injury. The problem was that the doctors couldn’t actually figure out where the pain was coming from. Almost 2 years worth of constant scans, pokes, prodding, medication, referrals, physical therapy and a whole mess of other stuff I can’t remember and they weren’t any closer to diagnosing me properly without doing extreme invasive surgery which had the very real possibility of permanently disabling me instead of just living with the pain. So, the ultimatum I was given, as a soldier, was get cut or get out. I feared the thought of never being able to go for a run/march ever again so I had to get out. The part that screwed me over was the category I was given for the honorable discharge. According to the VA, it did not entitle me to much of a continued disability pay, even though I could barely walk, couldn’t stand for more than 5 minutes in a formation, couldn’t march, and I think you guys get the idea. A good friend of mine was also in the process of being honorably discharged for migraines and the VA allowed him the highest coverage they could. Now I’m not bitter at my friend. We weren’t competing, but I’m just showing you guys how crazy the system is and what they deem worthy of a disability.
Fast-forward a few years. I had been holding down a few jobs, was doing moderately fine but nothing that would give me a ”career”. Fast-forward a few more years and I got a good job at a fairly new company. They were small but they were expanding fast. Expanding as in their client base, not their workforce. I started out as just a level 1 answering phones and asking clients ”did you try turning it off then on again”. Once I was integrated into the system and processes I excelled at it. Picked up quickly on the inner workings and started taking on tasks that the level 2 engineers were supposed to do. I was good at multitasking so was doing double/triple the work I was expected to be doing. Was eventually promoted to Level 2 and workload tripled again. Now remember, this is a small company, but we had, I would say, over 400 clients/systems and only three level 1s, and two level 2s. The pressure was immense but I have always excelled under pressure and absolutely loved it there. That wasn’t the issue with the company and why I ultimately had to depart. I don’t want to bash the company and most were awesome to work with, but the CEO was the ultimate reason why I had to leave. I know what you’re thinking, ”but that’s all bosses and CEOs. They are usually all dicks and you should be used to that from being in the Army for so long.” True. I was used to it, but there I had no choice except to just turn the other cheek and ”soldier on”. Now this guy was a delight. I am using that term sarcastically for those confused. He was constantly saying misogynistic, homophobic, bigoted comments and micromanaged us to the point that we couldn’t send an email to a customer without his approval first, but he would take weeks to reply/approve at which point the customer is fuming we haven’t helped them and he then sends company wide emails demanding why he hasn’t been helped. He talked bad about anyone behind their backs and sometimes directly to them, and the worst part of it all was that he had HR under his finger so whatever you say to HR gets directly reported back to him and that just meant he would talk more about you behind your back to literally everyone else at the company with no repercussion. Can’t tell you how many times I would overhear him in his office ripping on my coworkers and myself. He had even called me a fag to my face a few times, then just laugh it off. The awkward part was that I am actually gay and he knew that. The final straw of it all was an impromptu meeting he called one early morning. Sat the support team down and started going off on us about things like “we shouldn’t be working here if we expected to make more money” or “No one will be getting a pay raise because none of us deserve one due to our inability to resolve client issues in a timely manner”. Mind you, the entire time I was working there, even though all my performance reviews were excellent and never had a personal client complaint, and I was doing the job of 3 people, I never asked for a raise and never asked for a promotion. When I WAS offered the one promotion, I did take it, but the pay increase did not reflect the position title or the work I was actually doing even though our ticketing system tracked our day down to the second and I always had well over the required 8AM-5PM timestamps. Another thing to note is that since day 1 of starting, people had been quitting/getting fired left and right. Every week was an adventure to see if any of us still had a job. So getting back to the ripping we were getting at 5AM…he finally gave us the ultimatum of “If you are only here for the money then leave now or shutup and do your jobs better.” I thought on that for a few days, got my resume in order then quit.
Boy, was that the wrong move.
Looking back I thought I was standing up for myself, my values and beliefs by getting out of that toxic environment, which I was, but I did it the wrong way. What I SHOULD have done was get a job BEFORE I quit so I didn’t have to go through the living hell of the last almost 2 years. It was a stupid move to just quit. I know. Live and learn?
The day after I quit I started applying to any and every job I could find that suited my skillsets and in driving distance since that was a big factor because I live out in the boonies. The awkward part of it all was the IT company I just quit from is in a specific field of IT Support, so the systems/programs I had been busting my ass for the last few years to learn/manage/maintain/troubleshoot/implement only gave me a small window of companies I could apply to. Some of you may have put it together already and see the dilemma here. My previous employer, since they were expanding quickly, knew all these companies that I was applying to. And what do employers do when they consider someone for a position in their company? They call previous employers to ask about the applicants work ethic, dependability, professionalism, etc. Like I said before, I don’t want to talk bad about the company and this is complete speculation on my part since I had no real evidence, but there was one company specifically that I was in communication with that practically guaranteed me the job and told me I was unofficially hired already; setup a “start date” to sign some final paperwork and they would see me in the office that day. Few days later I get a call from them and the one statement I clearly remember them saying was “We do apologize for the mix-up but we have decided to go in another direction with our hires and unfortunately you have been taken out of consideration for this position.” That stung. That call made me dizzy and I was practically in shock for the remainder of the call and a few days after that as well.
After a few weeks of not being able to find any jobs, I had no option but to move back into my mom’s place (no not the basement), and I continued the search for a job with only my savings and extremely small VA checks coming in to sustain myself. Obviously I had bills to pay so savings ran out quickly since I was trying to keep my car so i could get a job, and now I was only on VA. Remember, I was now living out in the boonies where the closest town of 300 people and biggest attractions there are a gas station and bar, was 2 miles away and a car was a necessity to do/go anywhere. Eventually I had to relinquish the car back to the bank/dealership, but still had some to pay off so now only had VA check to help with that. All this time I was living off of ramen and rice and man did I find some interesting ways to cook those bad boys.
Things could be worse right? Well, they got both better and worse. I’m trying to stay positive through all this, but it got overwhelming at times and I have been through some major depression ruts that have been extremely hard to get out of when everything has turned against you and I couldn’t see a way out. One way I got out of the most recent rut was I started working out and running…a lot. I could never have admitted it at the time but I had gained a LOT of weight since leaving the army. I have always hated getting my picture taken, so I never really had any to do a side by side comparison but I remember once trying to fit into an old army PT uniform and I could barely get it over my head. That was a rude awakening for me. So I started running. Luckily my mom’s house had an older treadmill so I could run in private without the embarrassment of going to a public gym. Also the fact that I had no money or a gym anywhere even close to where I was. I dropped 40lbs in less than 2 months. The change to how I felt was as clear as night and day and I was finally starting to shake off the depression.
But this isn’t the end of this long winded story. There’s only, what I hope, one more part before the end. Our family has always been lower middle class but when my dad died when I was in high school and he was the bread winner, my mom took up the mantle and got a nursing degree to get a job to provide. She got a decent paying job to sustain herself with house payments and all that, but it has been slowly draining her savings over the years and it has gotten to the point that we had no other option but to leave the house and move into an apartment in a nearby town. Things seem good now right? Smaller payments, in a town to finally get a job, seems to not be depressed anymore. Well, the problem is that we had to borrow the money from our uncle to even get the apartment, and during the move I hurt my back so bad that I was bed-ridden up until a few days ago that I can now finally start moving again. During that time I have been applying to all sorts of jobs, even non IT just to start getting some income. I have a few promising replies and even have an interview later today at a retail store, but I won’t be able to make enough before the end of the month to cover rent.
This is the part that, if you are still reading, most of you will click on to the next thread, but I can only hope there are some of you internet strangers that can help. If I can’t figure out a way to get this money before the 1st of next month, then we have a very real chance of becoming homeless, which is just a crazy, devastating feeling that I could never possibly have thought i would ever be in this situation. I also am not only asking for a handout. A freebie. A lazy way out of this. I plan on paying every single one of you strangers back when the money comes in. Being in the Army, I have always prided myself in the honor and integrity values to not go back on my word, and that promise will be kept. The absolute minimum needed is $850, but that is only for the rent part. For food, gas (moms vehicle), and hygiene products, to get us through the month is closer to 1k, but literally any amount would be overwhelmingly appreciated.
This post is already long enough and I don’t know if it’s going to be seen by anyone. I also don’t know a way to even collect the money, if anyone even wants to, besides paypal so that’s the only link I can provide. If there is something else that I should be using, let me know. Also should DM me so I can keep a list of those that helped so I can contact you when I can pay you back.
I am also now in an area that has good enough internet where I could potentially stream/post to youtube so I might start doing that during my downtime. I will play any and every game because I love them, but I really only have Rust or League of Legends and those communities are already overwhelmed with streamers so my chances are probably slim, so if anyone has any recommendations, let me know.
If you got to the end, then I appreciate you getting here. Typing this is probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I would be deeply humbled by any help.