Saturday, May 24, 2008

Catastrophe

It was due, wasn't it? Law of averages + my life = inevitable catastrophe. Of epic proportions.

First, let me say this about Ranger: He's the most "what you see is what you get" person I've ever know. He holds the values of decency, honesty, integrity, trust, loyalty, and doing what's right for your fellow man at the core of his being. Karma is a huge concept with him. This is why his ex's cheating has been such a staggering blow to him. That's why he's frustrated that his coworkers don't seem to take pride in what they do. Doing a job is worth doing it right, and all. It's also why he never passes a stranded traveler on the highway; he stops to help, even when it's to his own detriment.

My daughter and I were on our way to Salt Lake City yesterday, so we stopped at the park to visit Ranger and his son. Sweet kid, by the way. Smart, too. We were there during Ranger's lunch break, and he was frustrated to the point of distraction. While he was visiting me that week, his new roommate had busted his $2,000 computer, at the core of his entertainment system. Even the remotes were sticky. When the roommate arrived the previous week, again while Ranger was out of town, someone had gone through all of his stuff -- including the drawer of my lingerie. Nice.

Anyhow, during that lunch break yesterday, he told me about arriving at work that morning to find a cash register that was already showing a $300 discrepancy. No notes had been taken during his off time, to let him know why that happened. This is the latest in a long string of similar problems that he finds when he starts his work week. He's done all he can do about the mistakes he finds, since he's not a supervisor. He documents everything, to make sure his own ass is covered.

Lately, his documentation has been making some people nervous. He's commented on one guy in particular, who is a supervisor (although not Ranger's supervisor) and appears frequently in the documentation. He may have suspected his featured role in it, though, when he told Ranger last week, "Just give me what you have documented and I'll be sure it's taken care of." Ranger refused, saying that he'd rather cover it with the Big Boss.

So, he ran the necessary reports yesterday and wrote up his documentation on the register incident. He headed back to work when my daughter and I left. Doofushead Mike was covering lunch, so he hoped it wouldn't be more out of balance when he got back. I saw him head to the Big Boss's quarters, to find out what to do about the register problem.

He knew I was headed into bad weather in the mountains, so he insisted I call the moment I made it through, to let him know we're safe. I called, but had to leave a voicemail. He didn't call back. I texted. No answer. I called again. Voicemail again. Late last night, I called and said I was worried that something was wrong. I called the apartment number (which is a party line) and was told he wasn't there. Very, very unusual.

I didn't rest all night. I could feel it. Call it a disturbance in the Force (lol) or whatever, but it was just in the air. Something was very, very wrong.

This morning, his phone went straight to voicemail. I can't remember his son's cell number. I tried to find it, but no luck. I called the apartment number again, and got Doofushead Mike next door.

"Uhm, Ranger isn't here," he said. His tone was really odd, though. Something was definitely wrong. I stayed quiet, which usually makes him talk more.

"Uhm....," he said. "I'm not sure how you can reach him. He was removed yesterday and I don't know what you can do."

REMOVED?!?! WTF???

"Mike, what's going on?"

"I really can't say. I talked to his ex last night and she's trying to get their son home."

"Can I get a message to Ranger somehow? Or his son?"

"Sure. Give me your number and I'll get it to him or his son." That was about as helpful as Mike gets, so I thanked him. However, I pretty well knew he wouldn't do anything about it. Just a gut feeling.

I hung up the phone. Panic set in. What is God's name is going on? "Removed"? I could think of one place to call, and I hated that thought. It's outside of my frame of reference, really. I don't know how you do these things. But I hit the 'Net and found the number I needed.

I called the local jail. He wasn't there.

I allowed myself one sigh of relief before the panic came back.

From the tiny bit of information Mike managed to give me, whatever happened made it necessary for his son to go home in a hurry. So, I had only one person left to ask, to get some idea of what happened.

Anywho.com told me what I needed to know. I bit the bullet. I called his ex.

She was surprised to hear from me, of course. I said I didn't know what was happening, Mike had been very mysterious, but that I understood that her son needed help. She was very appreciative, but she had someone at the door and said she'd call back as soon as possible and fill me in.

So, I waited.

I'm not good at waiting.

I pulled myself together enough to shower. My mind raced. What the hell has happened? And why won't he call me to tell me? Or have someone call me? Why am I having to do the tracking down? Maybe I offended somehow and he doesn't ever want to talk to me again. I just couldn't wrap my head around this thing.

I turn the water off and my phone rings. Simultaneously.

"I don't know where to start," she said.

"Anywhere," I said. "All I know is that I was at the park for lunch yesterday and everything was fine. He was frustrated about a mistake he found, but he documented it and was headed back to work. Then I couldn't reach him. I talked to Mike this morning and he's being really cryptic."

"Okay, well, long story short," she said. "Ranger was arrested yesterday on suspicion of theft."

I gasped and nearly dropped the phone. "Uhm, no way. That's not him."

"I know," she said. "I don't know what's happened, but it's a big mess." She told me where he was, at the county jail about an hour away from where he works.

I talked to her about what they were doing to get him out. We talked about their son and what to do to get him home. I offered my help. I could help him find a place to stay for the weekend and pick him up on Monday. She actually had told her son to call me last night, but he wasn't sure what to say. Poor kid has met me twice and is painfully shy.

It was a half an hour before their son could get in to talk to Ranger. I told her I'd try to call him a little later. She promised to get back to me if she had news or needed help at all. Despite the circumstances, it was a good conversation. I'd known she wouldn't be ugly to me -- I was calling to ask for info and offer help. She had the upper hand, and she likes that.

I waited and tried to call the jail. The woman who answered started off by being a smartass with me, until I told her Ranger's name. Then, she turned helpful. "They're working on getting him out right now. I tell him you called."

At that point, I had to squelch my panic and desperation to talk to Ranger, and turn my attention to my daughter. She actually wasn't out of bed yet because she's completely in love with the hotel bed. I rousted her up and we got moving.

We started our sightseeing, and I focused on her. This weekend must remain ALL about her. This is what she deserves. While we were driving, I got a text from Ranger.

"Am OK. Will call soon."

I replied and let him know I'd talked to his ex, and said I hoped he wouldn't be mad. Then, I waited for the call.

My daughter and I had a delicious lunch. I'm going to blog about this trip later, when I can tell the whole story at once and not have the convoluted catastrophe in the middle of it. Suffice it to say that I'm still astounded by this child.

When my phone went off with Ranger's ringer, the timing was good. My daughter was busy with some shopping, so her attention wasn't on me. I could talk.

He sounded completely exhausted. He hadn't slept. He'd spent all night watching everyone else, and thinking about me. He said he thought if he concentrated on me enough, I'd somehow get the vibe and know something was keeping him from contacting me, that something was wrong. I got the vibe loud and clear, I think.

The day before, when he returned to work from lunch, Mike was raising a stink about the register being out of balance. The problem was that Ranger's carefully prepared documentation was missing. Disappeared. And there was Mike, pointing the finger at Ranger and accusing him of stealing from the register.

Ranger is kicking himself for leaving the documentation where it could be found. And it seems like it was found by the person who caused the register to be out of balance (while Ranger was off-duty), and he was now deflecting the blame.

Mike actually hadn't stolen the money. He was inept with the register. But instead of admitting and correcting his mistake, he wanted Ranger to take the fall....and take his "documenting" of all of Mike's mistakes with him.

So, Ranger was arrested. His son was told he had 15 minutes to get his stuff and get out. He gathered what he could, then followed in his dad's car. He actually had to sleep in the car last night. He should have taken his mom's advice and called me!

Ransacking Ranger's apartment, Mike found his secret cash stash. The one he hides from his ex, so she can't claim it as her own. This is the money he makes from selling rocks to rock shops. (For those wondering, I know the stash is legit - I've seen the transactions.)

So, Mike produced this cash as "evidence" to his boss of Ranger's theft. The problem is that the boss ran register reports and couldn't find that large of a discrepancy. In fact, once he corrected all of Mike's errors, the register was off by $30. Mike insisted Ranger must have stolen it when he came back from lunch (i.e., after Mike had been there and could be blamed). The problem is that Ranger's pockets were emptied. No money in them at all.

The charges were being dropped, but Ranger is not a ranger anymore. Mike's lack of integrity has cost Ranger the job he dearly loves. Plus, he has to appear in court to get back the things that were taken from his apartment as "evidence." He was going to sort out that problem today, in addition to arranging to get his remaining stuff and finding a new place to live.

It appears my personal rollercoaster is back in gear.

5 comments:

Driving With the Brakes On said...

Oh, dear Lord! Blogget, I am so sorry to hear that all of this is happening! I am glad that Ranger is okay and that no charges are going to be files, and am devestated to learn that he has lost his job - you have indicated many times how much he loves his job. I am not one to blow sunshine up anyone's rear, but I will say that I know from firsthand experience that things like this can result in amazing and wonderful things.

(Before we moved back to Colorado, my husband was a police officer in southern California. Like Ranger, he took a tremendous amount of pride in his work and worked very hard - he was also one to follow the appropriate codes of conduct and to put himself in a position to excell - much to the displeasure of his co-workers. While on duty one night, someone broke into his truck and lit the interior on fire. He was taken in for questioning, put on administrative leave, and told to hire an attorney. I was questioned by the police, our house was turned upside down thanks to a search warrent, and we were made the center of some very salacious and untrue accusations. A couple weeks after he was placed on leave, we found out I was pregnant with Maren. After nearly 6 months in administrative limbo, we made the decision to sell our home and move back to Colorado. Two years later, I can look back on the situation and be thankful, though I certainly never would have believed I could be at the time.)

Please let me know if there is anything that you or Ranger need - I know I am on the other side of the state, but I would be glad to help!

Blogget Jones said...

Oh my gosh, Driving....your husband's experience is really similar! I can tell that Ranger is just heartbroken over this. Wish there was more I could do! And I soooo appreciate your offer of help....that means a lot. Thank you!!!

Walker said...

WoW, with friends like Mike who needs enemies.
Now can't Ranger have Mike charge for ransacking his place and stealing his money?
Seems to me that, that's illegal.

How will this affect him getting another job when others want to know where he worked last?
I would be going back for my job and Mike better be running for the hills there would be a grizzly in the mountains looking for him.

Bollinger Byrd said...

Can't say anything helpful. Just thinking of you and hope that Ranger gets sorted out asap. And that you and he continue to work as well as you do together.
By the way it's not you!!! Cause I do know that you'll be hooking into how things happen around you, right!
bbx

Blogget Jones said...

Walker -- no kidding, on the enemies thing. That guy is a real piece of....work. Ranger has covered for him many times, including times when he was drinking on duty. Ranger figures, though, if that kind of guy's say-so means so much, he doesn't want to be there anymore. He's loaded his stuff and headed here. On the job front, he owns his own business, which can fill the resume gap.

Byrd -- thank you! And I hope s, too. So far, it's been all right. I think his natural inclination is to pull into himself, but he's making a big effort to not shut me out. That's better than Karl did!

Thanks :o)

BJ