April 4, 2022
EP. 313 — New Job, Dead Dad
A daughter opens up about losing her dad and going through a big career change at the same time. She shares the strange way she got her new job and how it felt to plan a funeral for someone she never really knew.
313 — New Job, Dead Dad
Chris Gethard [00:00:04] Hello to everybody who’s very soft spoken. It’s Beautiful/Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names. No holds barred.
Theme Song [00:00:29] (THEME SONG).
Chris Gethard [00:00:29] Hi, everybody, Chris Gethard here. Welcome to Beautiful/Anonymous. I’m in Los Angeles. I like Los Angeles. It’s warm. I’m staying at a friend’s place where there’s a big window where I can see a mountain in the distance and there’s trees and it’s beautiful and it’s lovely. But I’ve also always found the city lonely. That’s just me. It’s nothing against the city, it’s just how I mix with the city. I’m not a hater. But I will say that it makes me even more grateful than usual that I have a job where the whole goal is to connect with one person at a time and then try to use it to connect a whole lot of us all together. And there’s just these little moments in my life that reiterate that to me and being out here working, it’s always nice to work, but man, I’ve always found this city to be one where if you are prone to loneliness, you really feel it. Some of that’s on me, but I really feel it. And then I think about this show where the whole goal, you could say, in some sense, is to combat loneliness, to actively try to connect via listening to each other. As always, thank you. I’m really feeling it. Really feeling it right now. Today’s call, it is a very interesting one, because there’s only a few things that are universally true for every person. And one of those things is that you have parents. You came from somewhere, right? But the meaning of who those parents are and what role they have in your lives can be wildly different. Some people aren’t that close with their parents. Well, what happens when you’re in that situation and then you have to deal with real life stuff involving that parent? What happens if you have a relationship that is not the one that shows up on like a sitcom? You know, it’s not the 1950s vision of a family, but you still have duties as a person’s kid, offspring. It’s really a head scratcher to think about what your responsibility is and to think about what the emotion should be. And our caller is able to speak to that a lot. I’m not going to say too much more. You can tell I’m being vague because I want you to just enjoy this one as it unfolds. So please do so. Sending much love to the caller. Thank you for your honesty and your openness and and your details in laying out a situation that not everybody, not everybody’s going to go through, but I think everybody’s going to get something out of hearing your story.
Voicemail Robot [00:03:00] Thank you for calling Beautiful/Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
Chris Gethard [00:03:08] Hello?
Caller [00:03:10] Hello?
Chris Gethard [00:03:10] Hi.
Caller [00:03:11] Is this Chris?
Chris Gethard [00:03:13] It is.
Caller [00:03:15] Oh my goodness.
Chris Gethard [00:03:18] How are you?
Caller [00:03:19] I’m a little nervous.
Chris Gethard [00:03:20] I was going to say, you seem you seem to be in a very gentle place right- you might be our gentlest caller, is what I’m going to say 20 seconds into the call.
Caller [00:03:32] Oh that’s so sweet.
Chris Gethard [00:03:34] How you doing?
Caller [00:03:37] Good. This is so exciting. I was telling your producer that I actually saw you last week at a show you did.
Chris Gethard [00:03:46] Oh, that’s awesome. Thanks for coming out.
Caller [00:03:49] Yeah, it was lovely.
Chris Gethard [00:03:53] It’s been really fun to go out and do the live shows, and thus far, none of them have been outright disasters. So that’s very good.
Caller [00:04:02] Um that’s great. How are you today?
Chris Gethard [00:04:06] I’m OK. Is the honest answer. I’ve been I’ve been in a-.
Caller [00:04:11] You’re recovering?
Chris Gethard [00:04:12] Well. I like to be totally honest, and I’ll tell you. I don’t know if it’s the seasonal stuff or what, but I’ve been in my head lately and then… I don’t know if you have any kids, but I just- you just- I just have this like Spidey Sense and dropped him off, we do daycare a couple of days a week now, and I dropped him off this morning and I actually emailed them and was like, He’s having a lot of anxiety about going and I kind of see why. Like… Anyway, I’m not trying to- I’m not going to publicly trash my child’s daycare. They’ve been pretty great. But I’m like, we switched him to a new classroom for the slightly older kids, and I’m like, how come, like, the teacher barely says hello. He’s running out in the hall and no one’s following him. I’m like wondering… This feels weird. So I had to email them and say, things are feeling weird. Is it me? What’s going on? So that’s where I’m at.
Caller [00:05:05] I’m sorry to hear that.
Chris Gethard [00:05:06] Oh, that’s OK. How are you doing?
Caller [00:05:10] Good. I was also telling your producer just a story about my life recently, and a lot of things have changed for me and I’m sure, you know, just like everyone. But I changed my whole career, and I think it’s kind of an interesting story of how it happened and the day I found out that my career was changed and everything like that. So I don’t know if you want me to get right into it.
Chris Gethard [00:05:44] I’m all ears.
Caller [00:05:48] So throughout this whole, I guess, really since I graduated college, I’ve been in the health care field. I have absolutely loved every minute of it. And during the pandemic, a lot of things changed. I was redeployed. I’m in a city that was largely impacted um in the very beginning, which was very tough. And so I have a lot of thoughts of you know where do I want to go next? What do I want to do? And I started looking into, you know, maybe tech or something like that. And I was working with this awesome recruiter, and she was actually calling from a city and state in which I only knew one other person. A place that I’ve actually never been. And so every time I would see her number pop up on my phone, it was that same city and state. And the interview process was quite lengthy. I don’t know if anyone else, if this is just unique to corporate America or tech but like five or six rounds of interviews, and some of them were like five hours long. I didn’t realize it would be so much work, but I got to the last round of that interview and the recruiter told me that she would call me that night and tell me if they decided to pursue the offer. And just almost about an hour after my panel interview, I got a call in the same city and state, and I answered the phone, you know, super bubbly, super excited. …Hello, this is thinking that it was going to be good news, and it was actually a police station, a police officer, calling about the only other person I knew in that city and state, that my father passed away. And… You know, just for context, I really haven’t spent any meaningful time with my dad. You know, he’s been in a few places and I really didn’t get to develop a relationship with him. I knew that he lived in the city and he had, you know, made some life decisions that led him down into a lifestyle that wasn’t amenable to raising children and having a family. So I kind of always felt that this call would come. You know, I wish I could say it was very unexpected, but I feel like now as we get older, you kind of worry about those things or think about those things. And so I thought I’d be prepared. But it opened up a lot more questions than I ever thought it would. And it was a very interesting way to learn about, you know, someone who has such a big role yet such a small role in your life. I’m sure as a dad now you can feel the same way about that. And so I have to just be me. Only relatives or you know since I’m the oldest child a lot of the responsibility kind of fell on me to organize a lot of different things. So I got to talk to the medical examiner. And I, you know, I just wanted to know all the details. And I know that sounds so strange. I just wanted to understand at least the last moments of a life I never really knew, but one that I definitely wanted to be a part of. And she was so kind and not at all what I was expecting of a medical examiner, but to be honest with you, I’d never met one before. She was actually the first one called on the scene, and she described to me where he lived and how he lived in a little studio apartment above a convenience store. And how he had just crushed beer cans in a waste bin. And, you know, like a mini fridge on the side table with just condiments and beer. Very classic. And she said it was wholegrain mustard, which I thought was so funny because I prefer wholegrain over yellow mustard as well. She said that there was a bunch of unopened and open boxes apartment. And even though he moved in a couple of months ago, he felt that that was a funny commonality. It takes me a week to pack a suitcase, so I felt that maybe that would have been something that my mom would have yelled at us about over the last 20 years. And it seems that he folded everything really nicely, just living out of boxes and I can completely relate. You know, I felt understood. She moved (UNCLEAR) throughout his things. He’s a big baseball cap collector, a trait I don’t share. And then she just went into other random details and said, Oh, do you want to know the last thing that he ate? And I didn’t even know that they collected that sort of thing or that showed up in a report. And she gives me this (UNCLEAR) chemical, um they have no idea what it was. And she said it was chocolate. Um so. Even though I didn’t really know him, I felt… oddly connected, you know, everyone loves chocolate, but it was just really sweet and totally unexpected. And then about an hour later, I got the call that I did, in fact, get that job and I’m working there now, and I’m just getting, I feel like new information every day.
Chris Gethard [00:12:45] Let’s pause right there. Man, that’s a- phone rings once, it’s heartbreaking news. Head spinning news. Phone rings twice and it’s great news, but still head spinning news. What a head spinning day. We’ll talk more about that day and everything that came after right after we hear these ads. Thanks to all our advertisers who help us bring the show to the world. Now let’s get back to the phone call.
Caller [00:13:13] Do you want to know the last thing that he ate? And I didn’t even know that they collected that sort of thing or that showed up in a report. And she gave me this (UNCLEAR) chemical, and they had no idea what it was. And she said it was chocolate. Um so… even though I didn’t really know him, I felt oddly connected. You know, everyone loves chocolate, but it was just really sweet and totally unexpected. And then about an hour later, I got the call that I did, in fact, get that job and I’m working there now, and I’m just getting, I feel like new information every day.
Chris Gethard [00:14:10] Did not see that coming. When you said you wanted to tell me the story of how your career transitioned, waiting on waiting on bated breath for the phone call to come in and then oh in between surprise phone call… The dad you’re not that close with has passed away. That’s a that’s a very, very strange day in your life.
Caller [00:14:32] A complete throw.
Chris Gethard [00:14:34] So wait, did you then- so the calls came from the same area. Now you’re working in the area. Do you…?
Caller [00:14:41] So I was working with a recruiter who lived halfway across the country.
Chris Gethard [00:14:48] Understood. I understand that.
Caller [00:14:48] I wasn’t getting- I just happened to work with a recruiter who lived in the same city and state, and I thought it was funny because I don’t know anyone from that area except him. So I picked up the call without thinking just because I was working with her for the past previous weeks, so.
Chris Gethard [00:15:10] And when you say you weren’t that close with him, are we talking like a nonexistent relationship? Phone calls now and then? Did you ever see each other? What was the status of this?
Caller [00:15:22] I think the first time he left when I was about four or five, and I think I’ve seen him five times from from now until then and the last time was about five, six years ago. But no phone calls. So. I wouldn’t say close.
Chris Gethard [00:15:44] I mean, what a completely bizarre thing. I can’t imagine. I mean, anyone’s anyone’s relationship or non-relationship with their parents is something that you think about, something that informs you, something that affects you. And to have this person have this person where you don’t know all that much about them and you’ve barely been in touch, but you know they ate chocolate before they passed away. That is such a… such a unique, I mean, such a strange conversation to have. Such strange knowledge to hold.
Caller [00:16:22] I know. And, you know, it was even more beautiful that, you know, actually painting his uh the picture of his life and his last moments, and you know me realizing someone that I didn’t really know or you know anything about them, that I’m living in a very similar cramped studio apartment, happened to be living above a convenience store. It’s weird. It’s nice almost.
Chris Gethard [00:16:53] Oh, wow. Wow. And can I ask… how they came to call you if you two weren’t that close?
Caller [00:17:06] Um so about five or six years ago, when I last heard from him, I heard that he designated me his health proxy, the power of attorney. So I think that since I was next of kin, I guess that’s how they identify people. I’m not entirely sure, but I guess that was changed after I turned 18. I do know that his aunt or his- my aunt, his sister- had my number. So I’m not sure.
Chris Gethard [00:17:45] Now if he lists you, are you… Does that mean that you’re responsible for his affairs? Like, do you have to sort all that stuff out?
Caller [00:17:54] Yeah.
Chris Gethard [00:17:55] Really?
Caller [00:17:56] Yeah, I couldn’t, I couldn’t believe how expensive funerals and all that goes with it um involves, especially someone who doesn’t live near you. That’s quite a challenge.
Chris Gethard [00:18:16] So you had to-.
Caller [00:18:17] (UNCLEAR) at that new job. So it wasn’t, yeah, it’s hard.
Chris Gethard [00:18:23] You had to pay for everything for a guy you barely know. And then I mean, I’m glad you’re saying you got the new job and that it helped you absorb the financial hit, but that’s also logistics and time and coordinating with funeral homes. And I would imagine that’s… That’s like such an investment. And you sound so relaxed about it. I mean, you’re speaking like so soft spoken about it. It didn’t make you angry at all that you’re the one who has to- you’re the one who has to invest all this time and effort and money into this situation for for someone who was such a non-factor? That- a lot of people, I feel like, would have had a lot of anger about that.
Caller [00:19:10] Yeah, I guess I in one sense I felt terrible that I wasn’t more involved. But I know it’s hard to say that to a kid, you know, and you’re just thinking after the fact that maybe the last thing that I could give him or… You know, something that will put everything finally at rest. And a large portion of it is just entirely out of your control. So it was it was just something that needed to be done. I I have sisters and they really didn’t want anything to do with it. So I think that it needed to happen. It’s very frustrating, and, you know, there are so many questions that come up and that doctors need or paperwork that needs to be filled out and questions that I couldn’t answer. I don’t know medical history. I don’t know um specifics or if he had other people in his life. And so I think those one offs when you just realize how much distance you have with someone who’s, who’s your father. You know, that was a little bit harsher of a reality than writing a check.
Chris Gethard [00:20:39] Do you ever just… The dichotomy of your absolute chillness right now speaking about this versus all the emotions that I could imagine went into it. Do you ever just unleash? Have you ever just like screamed into a pillow or gone to a batting cage to smash something with a bat? Have you ever done that?
Caller [00:21:05] No. Your podcasts are really calming. It was an awesome one I listened to, I don’t know if it was this week or last week, and you put you put it into such great worsds. It was about the sex work caller or the online sex work caller. And she said that meeting and working with so many different people, you realize that everyone has something. And it just gives you a different perspective on everyone you deal with. And I totally agree with that, that everyone’s going through something and this is something very small in, you know, the whole whole part of my life. And when my dad first left home, it was a lot harder than. And I think that all the years in between had me kind of adjusting to that void. And so it’s not unexpected, it’s definitely sad and devastating and in very different ways, and I’m sure I’ll spend the rest of my life working through that, but not in a rage fueled way.
Chris Gethard [00:22:25] I mean, God bless you. I think a lot of people would have some moments of- because, look, I’ve never had to plan someone’s funeral. I hope it’s a while before I do. But I know that it’s not easy and I know you have to jump through hoops and make phone calls and pay for stuff and organize stuff and be places. And to do all that with as much grace as you’re talking about… And as levelheaded as you’re expressing for someone who I would imagine you have every right to hold a lot of anger towards… means you’re a good person.
Caller [00:23:02] You know, Chris, something, something that really was upsetting um I don’t know if you know during all of this during the pandemic that student loans were paused. And so you didn’t have to pay back your student loans and you didn’t accrue any interest during all this time. So I’ve been saving money since all of this has happened, and I was so excited when all student loans are going to go back into effect in February 2022. And I saved enough to finally cover my student loans. And then this happened towards the end of summer. And I mean, I’m lucky that I had that money saved, you know, for something like that. But then it had to be used mostly by those costs and that was hard. That was hard.
Chris Gethard [00:24:08] So you were out, you were like…that-
Caller [00:24:11] I was at the finish line of student loans.
Chris Gethard [00:24:15] That moment with student loans, when it feels like the Sun is breaking through the clouds, and then all of a sudden the clouds roll back in and you’ve got to spend that money on this?
Caller [00:24:25] I know. Oh my God saying it really just, yeah, if there’s anything to be angry about, that’s, that’s that.
Chris Gethard [00:24:31] So that’s you angry? What I just heard, that’s I just heard you angry. That’s what you sound like angry. Very similar to the rest of this 20 minutes thus far. But I did hear a slight twinge. I heard a slight twinge of emotion. And that’s what qualifies as rage for you. Thinking about the student loans.
Caller [00:24:53] Oh my God student loans would you know, make anyone, you know, be filled with rage. There’s two student loans that I have. I have like private and federal. And there’s federal. The private ones are called Sallie Mae Loans.
Chris Gethard [00:25:10] Mm hmm.
Caller [00:25:11] And when I finished paying off Sallie Mae, they redirect you- when you send in your last payment, they redirect you to a video, a YouTube video, of like this rap artist singer talking about how you paid off your student loans. And to me, I consider that emotional battery. I don’t know whose idea. But to send you to a YouTube link.
Chris Gethard [00:25:37] This can’t be true. They commissioned a rap song to celebrate. This can’t be true, hold on.
Caller [00:25:49] It’s insanity.
Chris Gethard [00:25:50] have to Google this. Hold on. You’re telling me when you’re done, Sallie Mae, a notorious… A notorious…
Caller [00:26:01] Can you curse on here?
Chris Gethard [00:26:04] You can- wait, what’s that?
Caller [00:26:05] Can you curse on? I can’t remember.
Chris Gethard [00:26:07] You can curse.
Caller [00:26:08] Or do you bleep them out?
Chris Gethard [00:26:09] I mean, you can curse all you want.
Caller [00:26:13] Yeah, I mean Sallie Mae, a notorious asshole, sends you to I think it’s like an old old old rap video. Not even good production quality.
Chris Gethard [00:26:23] Is it called- is it by this person D1 with the- called Sallie Mae back? Is that it?
Caller [00:26:30] I don’t know, it’s- I’d have to google it, it’s been a minute. Sallie Mae rap artist.
Chris Gethard [00:26:31] Because it looks like this might be a rapper who made this song. And if Sallie Mae is embracing it, it seems like this rapper made the video as a sort of I am free from the clutches of Sallie Mae, and that’s if they’re directing you to it, maybe Sallie Mae is co-opting a song that seems to have been…
Caller [00:26:51] And I’m sure-.
Chris Gethard [00:26:51] Not complimentary-.
Caller [00:26:52] That they are not paying royalties. I’m sure.
Chris Gethard [00:26:55] Oh no. And if they are, I bet they divide them up into a decade’s worth of payments, one month at a time. Damn, I mean, what a uh… what I mean, but again, you know, there’s something to be said for you’re saying like you had that student loan money, there’s something to be said for, I think a lot of people would say, you know… I think a lot of people set aside money for their funerals so that- it sounds like your dad, again, it sounds like your dad stuck you with some stuff that logistically a lot of people might say, Why are you spending your student loan money on that? Like, why are you diving back in? And yet you’re so gracious. You can never eat whole grain mustard the same way again. You’ll never think of whole grain mustard the same.
Caller [00:27:46] It is the superior mustard.
Chris Gethard [00:27:49] I’ve never- I’m not must- I’m not a mustard guy. Mustard mustard offends- has always offended my taste buds. Sorry to tell you.
Caller [00:28:00] Oh, are you more of a ketchup guy?
Chris Gethard [00:28:02] I enjoy ketchup, mayonnaise. But as far as condiments go- but it’s in a family that I associate- it’s a similar thing- I don’t really love olives. There’s there’s something about a certain type of taste that, yeah, and I don’t know why we’re exactly talking about me and my mustard opinions in the face of some other stuff… So then this whole time you’re starting this career, which you’re excited about, is also coupled with the first few months of that are now kind of forever synonymous with this other stretch of paying to wrap up all your father’s loose ends?
Caller [00:28:39] Yeah.
Chris Gethard [00:28:41] How you-
Caller [00:28:42] I mean. Sorry.
Chris Gethard [00:28:45] Oh, no, I was- you tell me what you were thinking.
Caller [00:28:50] No, it’s just been completely wild. You know, you have to balance your emotions of being happy and proud of yourself for, you know, creating such a big change. It was hard to break the news to my family, you know, tell my sisters about our dad, tell my mom. You know, I waited about a week to say anything about my new job because it just didn’t feel appropriate. But this new job allowed me to start a few weeks later just because they have their own background checks. So I really didn’t have to go through the process of telling them. It is such an awkward thing to say or take time for when you just started something. And it’s hard to tell people, especially talk about, I guess. And you know, no one close in your life has ever even met him. You know, my partner knows of him but, you know, never met him. But he’s really sympathetic and compassionate, and it’s just really hard explaining it even to extended family members.
Chris Gethard [00:30:06] Can I ask too just because you mentioned them, your sisters and your mom… When you when you had to dip into that money that was going to get you out from under the loans, did your sisters and your mom contribute financially to help close all these loops?
Caller [00:30:22] Yes, so one of my sisters is still in school, so it really wasn’t an option for her. And my mom has a really difficult financial situation, so we decided to split up some of the responsibilities tbased on, you know, how… how we were or what we could do feasibly. So it kind of worked out that way. And since they got this new job it kind of seemed like it was the best option for now. Some things we have on payment plan.
Chris Gethard [00:31:03] So you don’t feel taken advantage of in that way? Because I’m a little worried. I’ve seen this with families and I’ve seen members of my family where I see, oh, burdens tend to fall on the same people, right? People play those roles in family, and I’m sitting here worried about you wondering why you’re the one taking it on the chin. Why you’re the one who has to do all this.
Caller [00:31:26] It’s hard and, you know, some people just really struggle with coping and especially for my younger sister. She took it really hard. So it’s- I don’t feel taken advantage of in that sense. I don’t think anyone should have to take on the financial burden and my thought is kind of the last kind of burden that we’ll need to do hopefully for this situation. So just about moving forward and I wouldn’t want them to, you know, do something drastic in order to cover for this. You know, I had the money saved up, so it works out and hopefully it’ll work out in the future.
Chris Gethard [00:32:16] Well, as long as as long as as long as you don’t feel taken advantage of, then I feel OK about it. But I feel like you are such a gentle person, at least in the course of this phone call, that I’m feeling very protective of you. So as long as you don’t feel taken advantage of, but I worry about it. I worry about this.
Caller [00:32:34] Thank you. That’s very sweet.
Chris Gethard [00:32:38] And how’s this new job working out?
Caller [00:32:42] I really like it. It’s really different, really cool from what I’m doing. The only part I guess I’m kind of struggling with is being remote and, you know, living alone and only interacting with people online. It’s so strange.
Chris Gethard [00:33:01] Now you mentioned you- you mentioned you have a partner, but you don’t live- you don’t live with your partner.
Caller [00:33:05] No.
Chris Gethard [00:33:07] And when you worked in health care, you were- you didn’t- I don’t think you said if you were someone who like, worked with patients, but you did say you got hit hard by COVID stuff. Were you like in a facility with patients and things along those lines?
Caller [00:33:24] Yes, I was in a hospital and I was in pediatrics, which is a dream. But during the pandemic, they redeployed a lot of our positions, so I was doing something entirely different than what I originally started out doing just in terms of crisis and what was needed at the time. And it really opened my eyes. It changed a lot for me. And I do miss it, and I know I have a lot of friends who are still working where I worked and not much has changed and a lot of policies and projects and things have just gotten all the more crazy, and it’s hard. And I wish it were different.
Chris Gethard [00:34:19] That right there, that quote right there, it’s hard, and I wish things were different, might be the defining sentence of all of our lives and everything that this show is and represents. Who knows? Think about it. Think about it while you’re listening to these ads. We’ll be right back. Thanks again to all of our advertisers. Now we’re going to finish the phone call.
Caller [00:34:49] Working where I worked and not much has changed and a lot of policies and projects and things have just gotten all the more crazy, and it’s hard, and I wish it were different.
Chris Gethard [00:35:04] So you went from being at a hospital where- I have a cousin who’s a nurse, I have a friend who’s a nurse, two friends who are nurses who um one of my friends, who is a nurse who… won’t even really discuss what it was like when everything first exploded. But everybody describes it almost as more of like a almost like a military feeling stretch of their life of like a front line. So you went from that of working in pediatrics and then that story we’ve all heard where all of a sudden the pediatric nurses are being pulled over to cover things that they aren’t- that aren’t their specialty because everyone’s getting pulled towards COVID and having to fill in each other’s gaps. So you went from this like high pressure… Which sounds, by all accounts, like a nightmare, and that runs you ragged, to sitting alone in your studio apartment, working remotely. Not actually interacting face to face with other human beings. That’s about as drastic a pendulum swing as you could hear about in this era of human history.
Caller [00:36:15] Yeah. And, you know, maybe it’s just given me so much perspective on things could be so much worse. I mean, nothing needs to be- nothing is as emergent or if someone says something that there just is no emergency in corporate America. Maybe that’s mean to say, but it’s a lot of perspective and things could be a lot worse. And it’s really nice. And so I feel for anyone who still has to- or can’t change or it’s not easy or a very cushy working from home situation, so I wish that everyone could have that kind of comfort.
Chris Gethard [00:36:59] Yeah, I feel I was able to go into my little bubble with this show. I went from going to the studio, seeing people, and then came out here, set up the mic. Sound quality’s still good. Moved out to Jersey.
Caller [00:37:13] Do you miss it?
Chris Gethard [00:37:14] No. Jared said to me one day- Jared was like, So the studio, you know, some people are using the studio. I’m not sure if you want to start booking some studio time. I was like, Jared, you’re never going to see me in person again ever. Could take an hour and 15 minute train ride to the studio or just do it from my house and then walk downstairs and play with Cal? Calvin’s on that one. But luckily, luckily, this show is what it is. I’m, you know, a lot of podcasts it’ll be let’s get four or five people together in the same room so they can chat. And yeah, maybe they need to be face to face. But this is already about intimate remote conversations. So we were ahead of the curve yet again. Yet again, the idea of doing things remotely, having all of your relationships- yeah, having every having all of your emotionally vulnerable relationships happen purely over the phone… I was years ahead of the curve on that one as well. It took a global- No, I’m now making dark jokes. I’m making dark jokes.
Caller [00:38:18] I feel like my conversations, you know, I’m talking to the owner of the convenience store who is beneath me, and he’s like, my closest contact or my only human contact some days.
Chris Gethard [00:38:30] Yeah.
Caller [00:38:30] You know, and I just I don’t even I don’t even wear human clothes. It’s just rotating pajama sets. It’s bad.
Chris Gethard [00:38:40] Yeah, especially starting a new job and setting the precedent that you’re doing it exclusively in pajamas. That’s that sets the bar in a strange direction, right?
Caller [00:38:54] Don’t tell anyone.
Chris Gethard [00:38:56] Well, you just told everyone.
Caller [00:39:01] Anonymous. Beautiful/ Anonymous.
Chris Gethard [00:39:04] I know I’m kidding with you. I’m kidding with you. And I’m going to- can I ask you a basic question? And I’m not judging… Why? Why? Why do you speak so softly? Do you get this a lot? Are you? Are you known for being such a soft spoken person. Because you speak very softly?
Caller [00:39:23] I’ve definitely gotten that before. I don’t know. I’m very, very quiet, very shy. Um it’s a very out of characteristic for me. I don’t usually like talking on the phone, I’m definitely more of a texter. I don’t know why I talk so, so low. My mom does too. I don’t know.
Chris Gethard [00:39:51] I’m not mad about it. Just wondering if there was a philosophy behind it, but it sounds like it just is what it is. So I have to imagine if you plan your dad’s funeral, does that mean, you attend your dad’s funeral?
Caller [00:40:05] Yes. Yeah, that was really hard, actually.
Chris Gethard [00:40:08] I bet.
Caller [00:40:10] Really sad. Yeah, we… so he actually was in the military for a little bit, so we decided to do kind of like a boat. We were going to spread his ashes in the ocean, which is really nice. And so intimate. You know, we had to ship his ashes to my house and… I don’t I don’t know why it was so strange. We didn’t even -I couldn’t even open the box. And that’s just the way that we decided to send him off. It was really expensive to ship an entire body across the country and um… we just thought it would be a really nice off, peaceful send off. And there were- the military boat comes with a former military captain, I’m not super familiar with the term. And it was really beautiful. It’s quiet and it was quick. It was just me and my sisters, my mom, my grandma, and me and my sister and my partner, which was very nice.
Chris Gethard [00:41:35] It’s a hard question, but one I’m sure you thought about. I mean, you mentioned this description that the medical examiner gives you of there’s a lot of beer cans around and a mini fridge. I’m not judging, but this doesn’t sound… Most people would assume that this is not, this does not- these are not indicators of, how would I say it? Because I don’t want to be disrespectful. My instinct is to say, you know, that doesn’t sound like the happiest life. All all due respect to someone who’s passed away.
Caller [00:42:09] Yeah. Hmm. Yeah. I agree.
Chris Gethard [00:42:14] And then you wind up with the ashes when you’ve been largely disconnected. Do you have a sense of who your dad was and what he was doing all those years and and why things were this way?
Caller [00:42:25] Well, I can answer why maybe. You know, he was in a really tough place mentally and physically and made a lot of decisions have led to him being alone or feeling that he needs to separate himself from his family. And it makes me really sad day he passed away alone. I don’t think anyone deserves that kind of departure from this world. But I do know that he had a friend and his friend was the one who scheduled a wellness check. So I’m glad there was someone in his life, at least towards the very end. But I agree. It’s very sad. It’s depressing to think about, and throughout that whole call with the medical examiner, I always was trying to almost convince her that my- I did love him and I didn’t want her to think that, you know, he was left there or this is how we wanted it. I would have loved to be a part of his life. But didn’t, didn’t pan out that way, and he made decisions, you know, and he was very sick, that had led to this, so it is a bleak picture.
Chris Gethard [00:44:03] And when you’re in this stretch of life where you you’re excited about this change, you think the call is coming in to tell you you’ve got this new job. That’s an exciting thing.
Caller [00:44:13] Yeah.
Chris Gethard [00:44:14] And then you get this other call. But they kind of go hand in hand in a way, don’t they? Because the one call is about excitement for the future and you demonstrating some agency over that future, you being like, I want change so I’m making change happen and the change starts today. And that does go hand in hand with this cautionary tale of, and now here’s also this looming presence in your life… Who was living in a way that seemed static or, you know, like you both like we both said it doesn’t sound happy. It sounds a little heartbreaking and also indicates… Indicates someone who may who lost momentum or couldn’t capture momentum. Those things, oddly enough, they do go hand in hand. Like one is very motivational towards the future and the other is very cautionary, but they must both of them must make you think about what you want your future to be.
Caller [00:45:10] Oh, Chris, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, when she painted the scenario and in so many ways I felt so similar to him. You know, whether it’s my environment, where I’m living, what I stock in my fridge. You now, I felt that it’s almost like an opportunity to realize that, you know, everyone’s just one mistake away from an entirely different life. For me, it’s in you know one decision, my whole life is different than what it was a year ago. It makes me sad that he had, you know, he could have had an entirely different life, and now I’m his daughter planning his funeral. I’m sure that’s not what he expected, or wanted. And I just wish that it was different. But you’re absolutely right, it was a chance. It definitely, in some ways, motivated me to be closer to the people who currently in my life. And… Just know that anything could be different if you really wanted it to be.
Chris Gethard [00:46:28] And are you thinking about moving out of that studio above the convenience store? Are you going to stop drinking beers? Are you going to switch to dijon?
Caller [00:46:40] I hope a larger apartment is in my future. I really, I really do. Fingers crossed.
Chris Gethard [00:46:46] It’s really is a good call about the balance, like your past and your future smashed together on the same day. So close together that you thought that you thought a phone call about one… You thought a phone call was about one and it was about the other. That’s. That’s head spinning.
Caller [00:47:06] Whiplash. Whiplash, honestly.
Chris Gethard [00:47:09] Yeah. And are you liking the new gig? Do you feel like you… Was it a good instinct to change careers?
Caller [00:47:15] Yeah, totally. It’s very hard, but I do. I do enjoy it.
Chris Gethard [00:47:21] Is it going to be a thing that’s always remote or will you someday be in person?
Caller [00:47:26] Always remote, actually, which is surprising for me to be- I’ll have to find a good place around me to set up shop and meet outside people.
Chris Gethard [00:47:37] Like some sort of co-working space or coffee shop that lends itself to human interaction.
Caller [00:47:44] People watching.
Chris Gethard [00:47:45] Mm hmm.
Caller [00:47:47] Because like I said, I’m I’m such an introvert, if I don’t force myself to get out there then I’ll just be a hermit.
Chris Gethard [00:47:58] Mm hmm. And you got set back on the student loans. Have you mapped out- do you know how long you’re still going to be under the yoke of those of those loans?
Caller [00:48:11] Yes. So this new job, for the first time ever, I’m going to be getting a like a end of year bonus, which is the coolest thing ever. I feel like a real corporate stooge. And I hope that how close the gap in my student loans.
Chris Gethard [00:48:35] So it sounds like end of this year, certainly in 2022, that hiccup is- that frustrating hiccup is going to be corrected. You’ll be out from under the the specter of these predatory student loans.
Caller [00:48:49] Yes, but, you know, I’ve been paying them for the last, you know, half a decade, so.
Chris Gethard [00:48:56] Yeah sure.
Caller [00:48:56] I definitely feel that we, you know, we’re in the home stretch.
Chris Gethard [00:49:02] I got real lucky. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this story. Got real lucky. I uh- my dad’s whole policy was… You know… I’ll be able to help out your brother to a certain degree, and then however much I help him out for that’s how I will help you out for with college. And my brother went to a private school and I went to a state school and the state school was cheaper to a degree that I wound up and I got some scholarship stuff for being a smarty pants. And between those things, I wound up not needing student loans. And I look at friends of mine, I go, that might be one of the great- out of the many gifts that my father has given me in life, that might be one of the greatest ones. I did not even realize back then how much of a how much I was able to dodge because of that. But it was just kind of like I gave your brother this much, so you get this much. And I go, Oh, OK, that’s going to actually cover this. That’s that’s amazing. Thank God my brother decided to go to some tiny religious private school.
Caller [00:50:04] I’m happy that you never had to deal with that.
Chris Gethard [00:50:07] And now you think about you said that you hope to move to a larger living space someday. Have you researched this at all? Do you have goals? Do you have areas or types of living spaces in mind? Are we being proactive about this?
Caller [00:50:20] Yes. Yes, I’m really hoping to move in with my partner when his lease is up and we’re thinking up in a totally different, a little bit more peaceful, relaxing area. I live in a little bit of a crowded living space, so maybe something different. He works from home, too, so we’ll get to pick anywhere, really.
Chris Gethard [00:50:50] So you can go anywhere with the internet. You could move to some island, you could move to the middle of a valley with no one else for miles, you could move to the top of a mountain. As long as they got broadband up there, you’re good.
Caller [00:51:01] Yes.
Chris Gethard [00:51:02] I love that. Love that. Have you thought about New Jersey? Have you thought about New Jersey as a destination?
Caller [00:51:09] I have not. I’d have to look a little bit more into it, but I do know some really good people there.
Chris Gethard [00:51:17] I tell you what, the tech- just based on how you’re just coming out from under the loans, New Jersey is great and I love it, but the taxes are very high, and I don’t know if you’re looking to sign up for taxes that high coming right out of your loans. The future seems bright. That’s my that’s my diagnosis. That’s my diagnosis is that it sounds like the future is going to be brighter than the past was.
Caller [00:51:42] Thank you. I’m hopeful for that as well.
Chris Gethard [00:51:45] I have to wonder too, for as strange is this to get that call, and for as unexpected as it is when you find out that you are, I forget exactly what you- effectively the executor of your father’s estate, right? Of his affairs. And for as unfair as it seems, like to anyone from the outside to go, man, you left when the caller was four or five… And now, all these years later, she’s got to carry the bag on you? Like for as unfair as it seems, there’s also a part of me that goes, it must, you know, part of the purpose the the whole reason that there’s ceremonies surrounding burials and death is for closure. And in some ways, I sit here I go I don’t want you to have to put six extra months on your student loans, that sucks for someone who wasn’t there. Like, I don’t want you to have to spend all this time when you’re supposed to be happy and excited about this new job being both sad about someone passing and saddled with all the logistics of dealing with that when you don’t owe this person anything. At the same time, I go… Certainly it’s a relationship that sounds like it was going to need some firm closure. And being the person to actually sign off on all the paperwork and write all the checks and receive the ashes and decide on where those go has to be about as airtight a sense of closure as you could ask for as well. So maybe in some sense that is a gift.
Caller [00:53:19] Yeah, I think anyone who has a parent who’s been in and out of their lives and doesn’t really provide much communication or security, it constantly feels like, you know, death over and over again. You never know when you’re going to hear from them. You never know if they’re OK. You never know if they’re thinking of you. And this was the first time that it just felt peaceful that there’s no more wondering. There’s no more what if’s or if there’s going to be a reappearance. Just definitely closure, good or bad. Um positive in some ways, obviously sad in others, but mostly peace.
Chris Gethard [00:54:06] I’ve never thought about that, that just a parent not being there, it sounds like on some level, even if there’s years where you don’t see this person, even where it’s only a handful of times where you do, just the fact that that person is out there… I’ve never thought about how that inherently makes as as as the kid in this situation, the child, it inherently makes your life just a little bit more chaotic because there’s an X Factor floating out there. There’s a person who’s an X Factor and they’re out there, and that means your life is a little less peaceful than it could be. I’ve never thought of that, that even the absence is chaos. Do you ever think about being a parent?
Caller [00:54:51] Yes, definitely. Whether I will be a good one. Yeah, all the time.
Chris Gethard [00:54:59] And do you do you dwell on that because of your because of the situation you’ve laid out today?
Caller [00:55:05] Yeah, I think it’s it’s hard at every new milestone to think about how someone wouldn’t want to be a part of that. Or somehow easy or hard to leave children in general. But it also, I don’t know if it makes me understand my father more that it couldn’t have been easy just because no working amongst children or hearing other people talk about their children, I’m sure it must have been beyond his control or incredibly difficult to leave and never look back. So… I don’t doubt that he loved me. I just feel that she was incapable of being a responsible parent or a present parent. But it makes me scared that I wouldn’t be everything that my future kids deserved. But… It’s good to, I guess, ask yourself those questions on ways that I can be a better parent or how little it takes just to be there to be a consistent person with your child. You know, that’s kind of all I wanted. So, yeah, I think about it all the time. And I know my sisters do, and probably easy to think that it’s just better not to be a parent. And I haven’t made my mind up about that one.
Chris Gethard [00:56:47] Well, I mean, I don’t know you outside of the last 54 minutes, but I know for me the thing that scared me so much was the depression. This thing that scared me so much was like, Wow, what if? What if I pass that onto him? That’s like been the great albatross of my life. I’ve I’ve mentioned to you at the top of the call, like offhandedly that it’s been really messing with me the past month or so. And I remember expressing to someone how scared I was of that, and I remember them saying to me, Oh, you’re, like, you are not seeing that the fact that you’ve had to think so hard about this and consider it so much… is like a secret weapon for your kid. It’s an asset. Your future kid, if they are depressed, is going to have a parent who understands it better, and has thought so thoroughly about how to speak to it. That’s it, and I almost feel like it’s if I could pass on a similar thing to you- and I’m not blowing smoke to say you’ve had to think about so hard about the idea of being present versus the idea of being absent in a child’s life that… When that day comes, if you do become a parent, if you decide it is something you want to do… I feel like anybody who has been majorly affected by something, you know, one thing such as strong as this, there’s probably other things too that I have not had the chance to learn about you, but this seems like a particularly dominant one. You just go, Well, we feel such weight and we feel such responsibility and we feel such fear surrounding them. But when you step outside, you go, Oh. How lucky is your kid? You’re never going to miss a soccer game. You’re never going to you’re not going to miss the Sweet 16 party, you’re not going to- any chance that there is for a parent child heart to heart, you’re going to be so game for it. So that thing that you fear the most might be your greatest strength as a parent someday. Who knows?
Caller [00:58:55] Is there anything that made you think, Oh, I’m, I’m destined to be a parent or yes, I finally want kids? Or is it just something that you fell into and you’re happy you did?
Chris Gethard [00:59:12] Well, I was always so scared of it. I was always so scared of what if my kid turns out like me? It’s going to crush me to see a kid and to know these feelings and know how bad they are to see a kid go through, it would crush me and scare me. The real truth, though, is, when I got together with Hallie, I was looking at her going… Man, she is going to be so, such a good mom, and it would be like the idea of a kid missing out on her as a mom was more heartbreaking than a kid being saddled with me as a dad, is the real actual answer. But then, you know what’s really beautiful is, like everyone, she was having her own conversations about parenthood and if it was something she wanted and at some point she said to me, the thing that makes me want to do it the most is I think you’ll be a good dad. So we’re both sitting here going, I don’t know if I’m cut out for it, but I think the other one’s going to crush it. And I still don’t know if I’m good at it or if I’m going to be good at it. But. I know I give a shit. And when my little guy gets sad… I feel how much it… I feel how much it kills me. These moments when I go, Oh, he’s feeling these emotions pretty hard, is this like an early sign to keep an eye on? Is he going to have some of my stuff? And I feel it kill me as hard as I ever thought it might kill me. And I also feel myself going… Oh, the person who said that to me wasn’t wrong, like, I’m on it. I’m on it. Like he he’s going to have other stuff I don’t know how to help him with, but I know how to- I know how to empathize with this. Like this isn’t- at the very least, I don’t know that this has to be the thing that messes him up. I will have other blind spots and they might mess him up. Phew. And that’s a very sad and pragmatic way to go, it’s it’s been it’s been a roller coaster ride, but really kind of beautiful to learn some of these things along the way.
Caller [01:01:33] It looks like you picked a good partner to share your life with.
Chris Gethard [01:01:39] Yeah, and look… Having a kid redefines that relationship too. Makes everything more difficult, makes everybody more exhausted and changes everybody’s priorities. So you’re also redefining that on our feet as he grows under us. And there’s a lot to figure out there. But at the end of the day, I’m like, Well, she she… And how can I not see what she’s like as a mom? She’s so good at everything.
Caller [01:02:10] That’s so sweet. I hope she listens.
Chris Gethard [01:02:14] She listens to some of them. She’ll like that one. Now what’s up? When are you moving in with the partner? My main thing right now is, I’m going, you’ve had so much closure and you have so much forward momentum. And then you telling me that you’re living in a studio above a deli, I’m going, that seems like it seems like one of the firmest things that you can move on from. So what’s the game plan? We got 30 seconds left. We got a game plan on this?
Caller [01:02:37] Okay. Yeah, game plan is I think I think you have to get pre-approved for a mortgage first. So I think that’s my next step. That’s my 2022 goal. I know the housing market is crazy. But yeah, those are those are the next steps. And I think I have an area in mind and it’s totally not above a convenience store. So that’s exciting.
Chris Gethard [01:03:05] Love that. That’s well, our time together is up. I did not see this one coming. I have not heard that story before. Congrats on the new job. Congrats on the forward momentum, on the game plan to get out from the convenience store. And also what a head spinning, emotional, confusing, sad thing to layer with all that excitement. I hope I hope that the future phases of your life aren’t tinged with that, that uh maelstrom, that maelstrom of other stuff getting attached to it. I hope there’s calmer times on the way and I wish you nothing but the best.
Caller [01:03:46] Thank you. It’s been a true pleasure and I hope I get to see and meet you at another future show.
Chris Gethard [01:03:52] Yeah, I’d love that. Thanks again for coming out. I hope, I hope you didn’t- I hope it was a good show and it was- it didn’t feel like a waste of an evening and some money. That’s what I hope.
Caller [01:04:04] Not at all. Not at all.
Chris Gethard [01:04:04] That’s where I set the bar for myself as a performer these days. I hope no one feels like they wasted their time and money. That’s how I self-promote. Well, so much love to you. So much luck to you. And I’m excited that the clouds are lifting over this recent phase and that you get to move forward.
Caller [01:04:28] Thank you. And this has made me so happy, this phone call, and actually getting through. So hey, I wish you nothing but the best, and I hope everything works out with Cal’s school and his daycare and teachers and Hallie. And I hope you have a good weekend.
Chris Gethard [01:04:44] Yeah I’m going to go deal with this daycare thing after this. Anyway. Yeah, OK. Anyway, yeah, thank you, thank you for reminding me. I got to get my head back in that game. Cool. Caller, thanks again. And as I said, I hope you buy that place. I hope you move in with the partner. And I hope if you decide to become a parent that it’s everything, everything you hope it is. And I think you could be really good at it. I really do. I just get that sense after talking to you for an hour. Good luck and much love. Thanks for calling. Thanks for listening, everybody. Thanks to Anita Flores for producing the show. Thanks to Marcus Hahm and Jared O’Connell for engineering it. Thanks to Shellshag for our theme song. And hey, thanks to everybody who comes out the live shows. If you want to know when those are and where those are, ChrisGeth.com has all the answers. Now wherever you’re listening, there’s a button that says Subscribe or favorite or follow. It helps us so much when you hit that button. You’ll find our latest merch at podswag.com. We’ve got mugs, shirts, posters and more. You’ll also find ad free episodes of Beautiful/Anonymous and tons of other shows over on Stitcher premium. Use the promo code stories for a one month free trial at Stitcher.com/premium.
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