“I can’t go.” He messages.

We had been planning this trip since Christmas. He even talked to his boss about it and his boss had told him it wouldn’t be a problem. Suddenly when he reminded his boss it was apparently a problem.  His job is one of those places that you can’t put in your vacation time too early or too late. It’s all verbal. All of it. So even if something is approved verbally they can still put you on the schedule. If you’re on the schedule, you’re working.

“I mean I work for a bunch of Italians. I don’t know what else I expected.”

“I know babe.” I said sadly. Though a bit confused as to why his boss being Italian even matters. Probably some historical refrence or perhaps an assumed Mafia tie. I didn’t wish to ask further. I just wanted the situation to be diffrent.

The whole family was supposed to be there and he was going to spend time with us all. I had been looking forward to it. It was our first family camping trip since my parents moved back to Wisconsin. I was ecstatic when my parents invited Joe. It meant he was accepted as part of the family! I had been counting down the days to seeing him. It was agony to wait. Then it became agony to hear the bad news.

I wanted to tell him to put in his two week notice and just come live with me for awhile. I wanted to lecture him about how badly he was treated at that place even after working there for ten years. I wanted to tell him to stand up for himself and say he wanted a raise if he had to deal with this crap. I didn’t though. I couldn’t make him change even if I wanted to. He was too set in his ways. Too rigid and unmoving. He would stick with something terrible if it meant not having to change. He would return to terrible things and people if it came to failure at something new.

Protect yourself. I wanted to mutter in his ear over and over until it made his brain explode. Or at least until it gave him the courage to do it.

“I’ll talk to my boss tomorrow.” He said solumly when we spoke that evening.

I asked him those hard questions as we spoke on the phone. If they sucked so bad why was he still working for them? If he wasn’t happy there why didn’t he find another job? “It’s not always bad.” He says. “That’s what abused women say.” I retort. I shouldn’t have said that. It was wrong of me to say. Yet, it wasn’t untrue.

We talked it out. I knew he’d hand them grace. I knew he was the optimist. It was the beauty and the flaw of his personality. He extends grace to a fault. He lets people walk all over him in doing so. Of course he sees it as taking the high road, but that’s not how life works. The person walking all over you is the one who has felt they have won. So I let my questions die, because I know that he will not rock boats. Nothing will come of my persistence. Things will probably never change. He will remain that gentle and forgiving soul. Walked on or otherwise.

Still. I love him.


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