In between it all there was one bright spot and it was my brother Eric. Eric was a year older than me and had joined the Navy after high school. He had been on the USS Missouri during the Persian Gulf War and had been able to see a lot of the world during his time in the service. I was in college at the time and he used to send postcards from places like Thailand and Australia and while I was a bit envious of him, I just took it for granted that my future was to graduate, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, basically to live “the American Dream”. The idea of traveling never entered into my mind. After the Navy Eric lived a vagabond life, working on boats and living in places like Seattle, Baltimore and New Orleans. He’d even owned a houseboat that he lived on in Fells Point in Baltimore which I always thought was cool. He had also backpacked around Europe and had some great stories. After my cross country trip to Las Vegas and due to my ever increasing desire to escape Nashua, his stories of his travels became more appealing to me. Occasionally the idea of following his lead popped into my head but it usually popped back out just as suddenly. I wasn’t 18 years old and just out of high school anymore so joining the military wasn’t really an option. And I knew nothing about boats anyway. But sometime in 1997 Eric came home to visit and asked if I wanted to meet him in Montreal to hang out there and in Quebec City, then drive back to Nashua with him. I jumped at the chance and my friend Dave and I made the 5 hour drive north where we hooked up with Eric and his friend Mike. Montreal and Quebec are two really beautiful cities and the nightlife in Montreal is especially fantastic. We ended up making another trip to Montreal that year and those trips were a godsend for me. Sitting there in Hurley’s Irish Pub downing pints of Guinness with a bunch of Canadians and Irishmen, belting out football (soccer) songs at 3 am, it felt like I had finally escaped Nashua and was experiencing life for the first time since my trip to Las Vegas, if only for just a few days. I became jealous of Eric and his seemingly carefree life on those trips because while I would be going back to my mundane life, he would be driving around the country on his way back to New Orleans where nothing is ever dull. This thought never escaped me as I would sit in the Monday morning sales meetings dreading the thought of what new hell awaited me that week.
Sometime around the beginning of 1998 came the biggest blow, the one that would eventually send me over the edge. As I mentioned earlier, Pressline had stagnated and my sales commissions had plummeted. I didn’t have a lot of bills but I was starting to struggle a bit financially. It dawned on me that I might need to take on a second job until either my Pressline commissions started rebounding or I was able to find something else. Of course the only time I had was at night and there wasn’t much I was qualified for so I ended up taking the only thing I could find and that was as a cleaner for three hours a night at a nearby corporation. That’s right, on top of everything else, I was now moonlighting as a janitor to make ends meet. Every day I’d get out of work, head over to my second job, take off my tie and slacks and put on my grubby jeans and sweatshirt and spend three hours mopping floors, vacuuming, and cleaning up people’s messes. I was never afraid to do work of this sort and wasn’t afraid of getting dirty or what have you. However, I was miserable because I felt that after putting in my dues with college and the Army Reserve, I should have been long past this. How the hell did I end up in this position? I placated my misery by continually telling myself that I was not the only person who was forced to work two jobs to get by and that there was nothing wrong with it. But the final straw came one night as I was vacuuming one of the offices and noticed something familiar hanging in one of the cubicles. Staring me right in the face was a full page Pressline ad that the guy working there had cut out of the paper and hung up at his desk. I thought to myself “I wonder if this guy knows that the guy who runs that system is the same guy who comes in every night and cleans up after him after he goes home”. That was it. I had to do something. I went home that night and went to bed but couldn’t sleep because my mind was just racing, trying to come up with something, anything, that would get me out of my situation. I’d been dying inside for some time but suddenly my soul was screaming that enough was enough. I was going to do something. I just didn’t know what.
(Click HERE for Part VIII)