1973, 16 April: Letter from Peter to G&H

Typewritten on very thin and crinkly typewriter paper. (I think this is the kind of paper referred to as onionskin, but not certain of that.)

16 April 1973

Dear Parents--

Hi-de-ho! It's Monday morning and I don't go to work until three, so thought I'd fill you in on what's happening here until Marcy gets through her Yoga exercises and makes my invariable breakfast: ½ a grapefruit (with salt--thanks for the tip, Pop) and a mushroom-cheese omelette (organic eggs and mushrooms are de rigeur), plus assorted vitamin & mineral pills.

Today is the first payday I'll get ½ of $750: the whole staff is very peeved at the super power-head on the governing board who decreed, against two years' tradition of paying on the Friday before the 15th and 31st if that fell on a weekend--he announced late Friday that since Monday was closer to the 15th, we'd get paid today (very high-handed I thought, particularly since the money was in the bank anyway). So I had to spend time Friday (off, since I worked the weekend) running around to different stores, cashing checks, and depositing the cash to cover checks I had written on the assumption I'd be paid Friday. "Life is one damn thing after another..."

Which illustrates why, even though on the surface, mine seems like a very beautiful job (and is in some ways), yet there are many other hidden factors which are leading me to seek another position. (the old game of hide and seek, you're perhaps thinking...) Well, I'm not alone--two of the other counselors (who've been there for 2 years) are leaving soon because they're tired of the petty games; the two crisis-intervention guys are threatening to quit because of only making $250 per month and having to be there about 74 hours per week (which includes sleeping time, but still, they're on duty and must get up to answer the crisis phone); and the director is leaving (he knows the program is dying and he's being the first rat to jump ship) and the assistant director is being rubber-stamp promoted to director, and she's utterly unqualified to be director--she spends most of her time out of the house working on a Rising Sun newspaper, or knitting with some old Mexican ladies (this is called "community outreach"!), and when she's in the house, she's almost always in the office doing paperwork (or reading the paper)-- and the topper is, she's unwilling to play the "synanon game" with us so that we can come down on her case, point out her failings to her--when she has condescended to "play" this "game" with us, she hasn't participated a bit, just sits and observes instead of mixing it up with us. So anyway, even though I'll shortly be promoted to $800 per month as the new assistant director, I'm looking to desert this sinking ship too.

With this end in mind, I consulted a "Consultant in Career Identification & Development", namely, R. A. Patton, 4172 Emerald Lake Drive, Decatur, Ga. 30032. I give you his address because if you know anybody who could use such a service, I'd like you to pass on this man's name with my recommendation. For $32.00, he sent me a whole packet of career-planning guides & brochures (like how to write cover-letters, conduct oneself during an interview, etc.), and a (2000-word) Personal History Assessment, telling me my strengths and weaknesses as he saw them (from a questionaixre he sent) and how they would apply to my choice of career; and a rough draft of a very professional-looking resume he wrote for me; and he'll send me 50 printed copies of this resume, incorporating all changes and corrections I made. A fantastic bargain!

I'm off to the library now to search out more names and addresses of drug-abuse programs, private schools, children's mental-health agencies, et al., where I can apply for a position as teacher and/or counselor. Wish me luck!

'Bye for now -- we love you,

Handwritten: Peter, Marcy, Jed & Joaquin


I’m surprised/confused by the bit about waiting for Marcy to make him breakfast—Peter did a lot of cooking, and was perfectly capable of making his own breakfast. But I don’t know what their division of labor was on a daily basis.
“first payday I'll get ½ of $750”
It took me a couple readings of that sentence to figure out that the part before the colon isn’t directly related to the part after the colon. The first part is saying that this is the first payday when he’s getting paid at his new higher rate (as described in the previous couple of letters); the second part is unhappy about the timing of that payday.
cashing checks
…This reads to me as saying that he was getting cash from his own account, and then depositing it again before the check clears in order to make the bank think he had more money in the account than he did. I don’t know whether he really did that or whether I’m misinterpreting.
new director
As I commented on the previous letter, I’m not convinced that this person was nearly as awful as Peter and Marcy made her out to be. Community outreach sounds like a good idea to me, and doing paperwork seems like a necessary task for a director. And Peter’s “topper,” the fact that she was unwilling to play the Synanon Game, makes me think better of her rather than worse—from everything I’ve heard about it, the Synanon Game was horrible and abusive. To quote my note from a few letters ago, the “game” was:
A form of supposed therapy in which members of a group said nasty things to each other. For a bit more about Synanon, see Rationalwiki. For a lot more about Synanon, see LA Magazine, though the first several paragraphs of that article oddly have nothing to do with Synanon at all.
…I also find it interesting that Peter was being promoted to assistant director and a higher pay rate, but that he considered that news so minor that he relegated it to a subordinate clause in the last sentence of the paragraph about his work situation.

Join the Conversation