By the time I came to work at the coffee shop I had had plenty of jobs where I had to deal with the public and I had a sort of tool kit full of tools to cope with certain aspects of customer relations that would trouble me. I would journal often and I also had index cards that I had written inspirational quotes on to keep me going, but no other therapy I ever invented for myself before or since has been as effective as Shotgun Therapy™. I would take those Torani bottles and write names on them, names of people who rubbed me the wrong way that day. I would think about them in my head, like the man who always came in and complained about the weather no matter what the weather was like, the lady whose toast was never toasted just right, always too done or not done enough. There was the group of single mothers who came in and let their toddlers toddle all over the place smooshing bananas into the walls and seats, dropping cheerios like little turds all over the floor and not bothering to clean up after their own kids, tip me for doing so or teach their kids not to be pigs.
I sit in my truck bed loading my shotguns and thinking of these people. I take a big black marker and I write their names on the Torani bottles I brought with me. Weather man, toast lady, single stay at home moms who spend more time not parenting than parenting despite having the luxury of not having to work. As I place the bottles all over, on rocks, on the ground, I say the words I need to say, the ones I couldn't say to their faces. Why yes, the weather could be a little rainier today and what's up with that fog?! Ma'am I am so sorry that your toast isn't just the right shade of golden brown, let me go get you some more. Oh and hey, ever considered talking to your kids about not being little brats instead of just sitting around gossiping and ignoring them? Then the bottle hits its spot, the last place where it will be whole and before I step away to go and place another there is one more little diatribe I have for the forest critters and the universe to hear. All I have left to say is that I truly wish these people no ill will, that when these bottles shatter so too do my negative thoughts towards them.
Some things are better left unsaid. I can't tell the weather man to take his bitching elsewhere because I don't want to hear it. I can't tell the toast lady that maybe she should just stay home and make her own damn toast. I can't tell those mothers that most parents actually pay attention to their kids and they should give it a try. I can though, with no ill will nor malicious intent, undo my own icky feelings. Go ahead, worry about weather or toast if that's your thing. Raise little idjits destined for years of Ritalin abuse if that's what you're into, it really has nothing to do with me. These bottles don't represent people, they represent my negativity towards them, perhaps the control they could have over me if I let them, and the things that are better left unsaid. And thanks to my being up in the hills having this closure, those things never will be said. Truth be told, there are more important things out there in the world to think about.
To this day I'm not sure how this idea originally came to me but it really helped me a lot. Now years later I can honestly say I've rather outgrown Shotgun Therapy but I've thought of it often. It's even the title of a book I'm working on, Shotgun Therapy and other Alternatives for an Overly Medicated Society. You see, toast lady, weather man and most of those non-parents are all on medications. They don't have to worry about accountability; they can just blame their dis-ease, lean on it like a crutch and without a catalyst, like a nice Mossberg 12-gauge pump action shotgun with a pistol grip, plenty of ammo and a crate full of empty Torani bottles, they could just sink deeper and deeper into bottles of pills.
There is a medication out there for everything these days and as many meds as there are there are people flocking to their pharmacists to get some. In my travels I noticed that it wasn't geographical either, I just noticed that there are a larger number of people out west going for their medical marijuana card. I was out there for a short while some time ago and I remember the people I stayed with for a time who were pot farmers asking me to get a medical marijuana card and stay awhile longer so they could grow more weed. When I told them that I had no justifiable reason to have a medical card they acted all put out like I just didn't “get it.” It wasn't really about legalizing for people who actually could benefit from its use, it was about “shafting the man” and buying a vacation home in Hawaii or Costa Rica. They told me I could call 1-800-POT-DOCS and talk to a Doctor and it would be as easy as telling him I get headaches. I could get my card over the phone all I'd need is a credit card number. They were not hearing me at all, an honest approach to a dis-ease means a more honest diagnosis. How do people not get that? I guess in the case of those pot farmers they only saw dollar signs.
The growers said that all I would need to do is say that years prior I had been in some kind of accident and that I was still experiencing pain from it and I'd be sure to get my prescription within a week. The motivation, as I mentioned was so that they could grow more weed when truth be told they already were growing pounds and pounds more than they were legally supposed to then selling the excess all over the country at street prices and making an absolute killing. With a winter home in Hawaii or the Cayman Islands and enough money to hire minions to do all the hard work while they just kicked back and made sales they were, and still are, living one hell of a life. It wasn't for me though, I stayed only long enough to see the truth and what I saw disgusted me so I left, that's just what I do.
Just as people who spend too much time in prison become institutionalized, so too do people who take too many medications. They proudly wrap themselves up in their diagnonsense as though it were a blanket to be swaddled in. They can become stagnant, getting stuck in a place where there is no room for growth. Guess what? Life is supposed to be painful at times. If it weren't for the harder times how could we ever appreciate the good times? Life isn't meant to be a cakewalk where you tip toe through the tulips with a big silly grin on your face at all times. It makes me think of that little pearl of wisdom that the Dread Pirate Roberts spits out to Buttercup in the movie The Princess Bride, "Life is pain, Highness, anyone who says differently is selling something." And guess what? What they're selling is pills, lots and lots of pills. Pills and the idea that you need them to get by, that without them you couldn't function, take your meds and there's no need to fear, for they come in many colors for almost any type of feeling. Not feeling enough? There's a pill, feeling too much? Not to worry there's a pill for that too.
In no way am I trying to diminish the experiences of people who take various medications for whatever dis-ease they might have. What I am asking those people to do is to take a harder look at the number of new designer diseases that have cropped up in the last 15 years or so. There was a time when people were strong and resilient. Anne Frank wasn't on Prozac; neither were a lot of people who have suffered through loss and pain the likes of which people now can only imagine. We live in a world now where people are becoming weak, we're killing our immune systems by over using anti-biotics and we're killing our own ability to cope by over-using anti-depressants. We are indeed an overly medicated society and there are people making money by using others as guinea pigs for new pills and new disorders, take this pill for anxiety- may cause stress, and take this one for stress- may cause anxiety. People are hamsters in a wheel running and running and getting nowhere and what's more depressing than that? Better take a yellow one.
I'm not trying to stir the pot too much here; just enough to get people thinking provided they still can through the drug haze. Stand up, take back your strength and power, and regain self-confidence through coping. Sometimes I wonder why some other country hasn't taken over the United States yet, all they'd have to do is take our televisions or video games away and that would be that. I know people might read this and get their hackles up, especially those who are on this medication or that medication. As I said, I do not mean to invalidate what you might be going through, but if your knickers are in a knot over this article ask yourself why. If indeed your condition and treatment is legitimate and absolutely necessary, then this article should steam you up about people abusing drugs and using these new designer diseases as a way of assigning blame and avoiding accountability. In point of fact, you might be just as steamed up about it as I am. On the other hand, If you find that you are just getting more and more angry and defensive, why? Am I hitting the nail right on the head?
There are fine lines all over this issue as well and many points that people could split hairs over for days. Everyone is different; everyone handles things in a different way, I get that. My point is that the world is changing and so are people and my bafflement lies in the fact that people don't seem to be changing for the better, they seem to be changing for the worse and that is of great concern to me. I can't speak to what it is like in other countries, only my own, but I can say that in the United States we are indeed an overly medicated society becoming more and more dependent and less and less independent. I love my country; it's the people who live here that I am becoming increasingly ashamed of. I'm not perfect but I do see myself taking a first step toward becoming, once again, the United States of America rather than the United State of Apathy. This country wasn't founded by people who couldn't cope when the chips were down. We are builders, we are doers, we are proud and strong…right?