With the letter to Philip Dare I knew February was turning ugly, as ugly as a rain soaked machine plundered acre could get, and it had become and would remain not only the cruelest of the twelve that year but the most nostalgic. But I had done it. I had finally retired from the field, as they say, the craven field where sticks and stones, time cards and expense accounts, twelve pound sledge hammers and plumb bobs, tack balls and freshly cut bundles of Amish hubs and guard stakes relying upon German transits, theodolites, and EDFs to achieve the point on the grid where three dimensions of reality meet the opposing plans of the civil engineer, where rods and chains were not implements of tyranny or pleasure but were tools of measurement that when used properly did endow men with proper signature, an emblematic sway of professionalism, the boast of standard bearer at the top of the heap on the construction site, wore men down to the vanity of a fizzle or a grunt, working men hung over from drink the night before, men and boys who, dazzled in dream surges and the properties of night flight and day jobs barely worth their paycheck, always had other inspired considerations to occupy their mind. From these things I had retired, and I had a letter from which to plot my former cause. I was finishing ten years in the field. Cold cocking Philip had successfully blocked me from the office. But the toil of years given notice. I needed to leave the dirt, the mud, the iron cold winds of near Pennsylvania. I needed to relieve myself of the aggravation a survey party still grazing far out in left field without a working sense of the mathematics, who wanted something for nothing and nothing for what little something they possessed, who were quick to draw, but slow to recoil, when serving up any number of reasons why a task should be done that way instead of this way, when the party chief almost always won these debates, and when he heard a better way, was quick to shift course, commend the contributor, and swiftly put boots on the ground in pursuit of the new plan. I was never a tyrant. Betsy and I in the early days of my complaints, used to argue over this concept, of a restless crew is the result of a faulty commander. All I ever wanted from my men was reciprocity, but the arguments came every day. This crew of Welborn and Sworm must have fancied themselves each a litigator of the firm, Welborn and Sworm, for whiel I had served with other ill-equipped personel, I had never met a pair of barely literate surveyors (actually Jesse “Chip” Welborn was a ripe outdoorsman with potential), who seemed to believe it their civic duty to disagree with every decision that was made in the course of a sap surveyor’s cold day, no matter how well-explained and counter-proofed. The insubordination had gotten worse. Nursing neurological pains in my neck and shoulder down into my left elbow into my fingers, I had given the cold wet season months its due. Six of them had been tacked onto my mortal sentence. I should have been promoted into the Mildenberg & Mackey office by now. I had had enough. The war was over. I played my trump. If I was too valuable in the field, let them replace me, and then still have to find someone to move inside. I was done. Keeping hours so foul that souls are lost in snap decisions, my own work of spirit and mind would never mature if I did not make this change. Working for this outfit would be my last days as a surveyor. A party chief had hung up his belt.
109 18th St. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
Re: Mr. Philip V. Dare
3300 North Ridge Rd. Suite 235
Ellicott City, MD 21043-5768
Dear Mr. Dare,
It is not without a certain dismay that I submit this resignation for your approval. The circumstances prompting this move are not so diplomatically articulated. Without compromising candor I would only suggest that the problem of continued employment with Mildenberg Mochi & Associates is one originating in myself, not precipitated by any overt transgression by the company or its personnel. As is well documented through casual and official oral exchange with you and with others, I have long sought a calibrated change of venue. I have wearied of field activity, and wish to explore other directions in order to realize the full potential of my skills and ambitions. It has recently become obvious even to myself that the quality of my performed work is suffering. I blame my natural restlessness, the)incessant need for change and a severe urgency to explore the world of Macintosh graphics and desktop publishing for this continued decline, and seek to rectify the problem by removing myself from the position of responsibility I have shown increasing disinterest in discharging. I apologize for the impulsiveness this decision must seem to you. The task has not been a simple one to resolve, but I trust that one’s wish to improve the quality of his own life can indeed receive the goodwill of his contemporaries.
Sincerely hoping you not find this letter pretentious or in any way, affected, I propose that you will surely find a competent replacement for my slot. My work habits these past six months or so, I would like to believe, did manage to inspire a respectable level of accomplishment in the field. Admitting that current deficiency of crucial raw motivation has betrayed me in many ways, I know I could have done a better job for you and the Company. Regrettably, the communication malfunctions which have recently plagued our working operations merely accelerated the process. But the nature of the job has finally taken its toll on me, draining me of the vital energy and liveliness necessary to realize a healthy return on my investment, that is to say, an investment of time.
The good intentions laid out on the table during our initial meeting last August were not lies, but high hopes. In the months since then I have simply lost interest in following the path required of a professional surveyor. And one must not hesitate when realizing where his own interests, talents, or inclinations truly do exist. Thus I believe I now must act upon my own resolve to regain control over a life long deemed lost to the sway of marketable skills.
As you would prefer, I am willing to extend the obligatory two-week notice of resignation until the end of the month, making Friday, March 1, my final day of official employment. Good luck and thank you.
5 February, 1990
When I left Seizure World a year later that realized I always left a job when I had reached the level I knew I would never transcend while still carrying on with my life’s mission.
Had published the first issue of the Independent Ward Sixer, and had won a seat on the ANC. We had a new mayor in the nation’s capital for the first time in a coon’s age. Our Mayor-For-Life had finally stepped over a line. “Bitch set me up.”
“I am a great mayor; I am an upstanding Christian man; I am an intelligent man; I am a deeply educated man; I am a humble man.” — M. Barry
“The contagious people of Washington have stood firm against diversity during this long period of increment weather.” If only he knew global warming had also set him up. Old poster from the 80s. Polar glacier creep from the north.
“If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very very low crime rate.”