Shortly after we graduated high school (still in the mid 80's)my girl friend started acting strange. She was indifferent and distracted. My clumsy attempts to cheer her up all failed. She asked me if maybe we shouldn't break up. (Can you sense all the chimpanzees of the Manosphere on the edge of their seats? "This is where Delta Boy gets the punt! It's gonna be AWESOME!!!!")
Well, I was just shocked. I said fine, whatever you want...but do ya mind at least telling me why...? ("Lookit!!! Delta Boy is snivelling!!!! But wait! It get's better!!! Heeeere comes the punt..") My girl looked me square in the eyes, and defiantly said "I'm pregnant." As usual my systems crashed, my brain flat lined and the manual over-rides and back ups all failed. I probably went off line for a full minute and a half as I scrabbled to reboot.
With as much bravado as I could fake, I proposed...and watched in horror as my girl dissolved into tears. I later learned it was relief and happiness for the tears. ("What the hell is this?!?!? BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!) No doubt our dauntless alpha males would disapprove!
Of course the timing and circumstances couldn't have been worse. Alberta was in deep recession then much as America is now. I say the word 'recession' with a caveat: for us kids, it was a full blown depression! Youth unemployment was running around 30~35% at the time. My in laws were holier than thou Baptists back then, and it galled me to watch those sanctimonious bungholes treat my wife like she was some kind of family failure and disappointment. They blamed me, and made sure that I knew I was unworthy of their daughter. I grit my teeth and sucked it up because in those days family still meant something, and decent kids were expected to respect their elders. I was able to find a part time job, then a few others, and some contract stuff doing menial chores and labourer type work. The hours were brutal as were the conditions. Sweat shops thrive in recessions and depressions and I went 60~70 hours a week for years. I remember almost fainting when my daughter walked up to me and started talking one day - I had been so busy, I had missed her first steps. Her first words. Her first trip to the swimming pool... I missed all that stuff. When I DID get time off - I was expected to visit with the relatives when all I wanted to do was sleep and recharge my batteries. Often I would drift off during visits to my in laws - who called me lazy because any time they saw me I was usually drowsy or sleeping. My wife worked every bit as hard as I did so I suppose that when we DID have time together...we had better things to do than fight over the stupid stuff people squabble about today.
Why? What's the point of crap like this?
Eventually I scored a junior menial gubbermint job with the Alberta Research Council. In contrast to the shit holes and sweat shops I had been working at - this place was a veritable country club! It was an eye-opener too - this was the ivory tower, where EVERYONE - except me, of course - had a respectable education and impeccable credentials. They were engineers, experimentalists, technologists and egg heads of every description! Yet for all their hallowed education and experience - they were notoriously naïve and incompetent. One of the research team leads was a former prof from one of the most prestigious universities in Poland. One day he had me fetch the secretaries' paper shredder and bring it to his lab. I thought nothing of it, as heavy lifting and menial chores were part of my job description. He was working on an experimental bench top pyrolysis project whereby household garbage would be burned in the absence of oxygen to generate heat - which would in turn be used to fire boilers and generate electricity. I would conservatively estimate there was at least $3 million dollars tied up in his lab. He was trying to industrialize the process on a small scale to see if it could be made to work commercially.
The problem was that the household garbage he needed to burn had big stuff in it like old pizza boxes, half-eaten melons and other disgusting refuse...and it was too big to fit in the small bench top incinerator he was using. His bright idea was that he would simply dump the garbage into the paper shredder and that would chew the garbage into bite-sized chunks that his incinerator could be able to handle. Soooo... he dumped all the garbage into it and promptly gagged the shredder with devastating results. Crap (yes... crap, guess where the dog shit goes once it is picked up and bagged) - spattered us, the lab and gagged the shredder. "Woijtech!!!!" I gobbled in fright, "Are you fuggin nuts?!?!? Whaddya think those clucky secretaries are gonna do when they see what you've done to their shredder?!?!?"
The words were barely out of my mouth when a passing clerk paused in the doorway, saw what we had done and lost her chit. In those days, paper shredders were high tech office furnishings and pretty expensive. She shrieked in horror, alerted the rest of the clucks, and we bolted and hid in the upper piping racks of the high head labs for half a day until the squawking, shrieking and fluttering had subsided. I got a written reprimand on my employment record for taking the paper shredder without authorization and was punished - it became my job to cut up the garbage with a pair of scissors to feed the Woijtech's incinerator! It was my way of taking a bullet for the team and all the professional academic men treated me with some respect after that. Yeah - that is how academia works! Think of that next time some 'respected scientist' is beaking off about global warming!
"Holy shit! Ever see a paper shredder do THAT before, Filthie...?"
The good thing was that I saw exactly what passed for an 'educated man'. And - I correctly surmised that if those dummies could get a degree I could too. My wife wanted better things in life too, and we agreed to save our money and send me back to school so that maybe one day I could get a decent job and make big $$$$ too. That swallowed up half a decade but gave us a start.
We learned household finance from my Grandmother. She was an old world woman and a very powerful one - unlike the chicken headed feminist poseurs today. She always looked like a million bucks without a hair out of place. She always smelled like fine leather and perfume and knew the value of a dollar. When she was 11 years old, during the height of the Dirty 30's - she got put out on the street with her younger brothers and sisters. She went right to work and supported them and raised them. Along the way she learned the 'ins and outs' of household finances, taxes and budgeting and she passed her knowledge on to us. She was the only person in our families that saw merit and worth in me and both my wife and grandmother supported me 100%. With their help I was able to upgrade my high school marks, qualify for pre-requisites and get an education. No student loans, no ball and chains...when I graduated I was worth...nothing! No debts, but no savings either!
But by now, the economy had finally recovered and I knew bums like Dirty Dave, Lesiure Suit Larry and other employers that gave me decent jobs at decent pay and we were finally to just barely afford a home of our own. After 10 years of long hours, hard work, and endless scrimping, saving and sacrificing my wife and I finally had a shot at the good life. BBQ on the weekends. The odd buck or two for a hunting/camping/fishin' trip. We bought new vehicles - and all was well until Grandma found out and started confiscating funds for our investments and savings again! I grumbled and grouched but secretly approved of my wise women and their financial acumen. We never stopped saving, not for an instant!
At the time I was pretty darned proud of myself. I looked around and discovered that all those people that had been looking down their noses at me for the last decade... were not doing all that well themselves. Most of my high school buddies that disapproved of our early shot-gun marriage were now married and divorced themselves. Most had gone to the cleaners as their ex-wives cashed in. My wife's girl friends were in the same boat and most were deeply unhappy and bitter in spite of their cash and prizes from divorce settlements. Their children were train wrecks in the making. Having been the kind of people that 'shit happens to', I didn't want to feel or seem to smug in our marital bliss ... but often I gave thanks for my wife and daughter. Nothing could pry us apart or come between us.
Nothing. The next century was shaping up to be a good one!
Just another happy and successful young couple...