Sisyphus finds a new rock
Sisyphus trades his boulder for a stack of TPS reports and now he's got a bad case of the Mondays.
I awoke in a dog spit-flavored Ambien haze.
“Butter!” I groaned. “I didn’t consent to this.”
She crooked her head, puzzled.
I closed my eyes. Two seconds later, she was gnawing on my left earlobe.
“BUTTER!” I pushed her off the bed.
I rolled over, covered my head with a pillow and chose to ignore the unmistakable sound of my wife’s panties being munched for like five minutes.
[alarm goes off for the third time]
I’ve been at work for seven minutes and I’m already on my second cup of coffee. They offer it for free and I cash in on that shit like a fat kid at a buffet. Gotta wash the mood stabilizers down somehow!
I like to consume as many chemicals as possible and then have them fight it out in my brain like Super Smash Brothers Melee.
It’s always been my dream to work at a marketing agency. That’s not true at all. The reality is, I applied for like 300 writing jobs and this was the first place to hire me.
I basically sit at a desk all day, churning out SEO-optimized web copy. It’s a thanklessly mind-numbing and dull job— but hey, it beats pushing a rock up a hill.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a white-collar job. I forgot how fucking boring it is. When you work blue-collar jobs, you think, “Hey, must be nice sitting in an air-conditioned office all day. What do you even do, send emails? You people wouldn’t last a day in the rock-pushing business!”
What this job lacks in physical labor, it more than makes up for in emotional labor.
I’ve always been an outcast. I’m not gonna lie, part of me liked pushing that rock up a hill. I didn’t have to talk to anybody, I could listen to podcasts all day— the freedom was kind of nice.
Nobody really bothers you at blue-collar jobs. There’s no expectation of professionalism. You can spit and cuss and fart all day, they don’t care, so long as you can pass a drug test.
Now, I’m trapped in this concrete box with 40 strangers all day. It’s like a John B. Calhoun rat experiment. That’s the second time I’ve made that reference in four articles.
White-collar jobs are a special kind of hell. Presentation matters. Reputation matters. You have to care what these people think. It’s archaic.
I feel like a stray dog that’s been hosed off and jammed into a pair of ill-fitting JC-Penny khakis. I feel like a rabid raccoon in an Eddie Bauer sweater. I feel like a cockroach on the kitchen floor, three milliseconds before somebody flips on the light. I don’t belong here. They just don’t know it yet.
I walked past the conference room and overheard Chad talking shit with the other salesmen.
“I mean, the problem with your generation is, these kids want to work less. Can you believe that? They go, hey, I want a raise. And I’m like, well, how many hours do you work? 40? Try working 55— get that time-and-a-half. There’s your raise, right there.”
The office has a decidedly alpha-bro type of vibe. There’s a part of me that wants these people to like me. I don’t know why. All these guys care about is money. I, on the other hand, am an artist.
Classically, those two archetypes don’t mix well. I’d like to think we can agree to disagree, but inherent in their worldview is a deep-seated belief in a money-based dominance hierarchy. And I sure as hell ain’t high on that totem pole.
Guys like this tend to see mental illness as a sign of weakness, a red flag, something to laugh at. I literally hear them say shit like that all the time. If they knew the real me, I don’t think they’d like me very much.
I could be judging them prematurely. Maybe I’m just building unnecessary barriers between me and other people. That’s the thing about mental illness. You feel like you can’t trust anybody, not even yourself.
Even if that is what they believe, I don’t blame them. That’s the world they live in. These sales guys all flow downstream from Gary V. It’s all about optimization, growth, work, work, work, grind, grind, grind. Don’t make excuses. Don’t be a pussy.
Any time you choose one way of seeing the world, you inherently reject the opposite view— with that decision, comes judgment. I don’t do well with judgment. I’m super rejection sensitive. It’s one of my many wonderful character flaws. At a certain point, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think everyone’s judging me, so I only look for signs that validate that confirmation bias.
I’m so fucking paranoid about getting fired, man. I feel like such a jackass sitting there. I’m so decimated by all these intrusive thoughts, I can barely look up from my computer screen, let alone talk to anyone. I just escape into my mind, clinging to my inner dialogue for comfort, but all my inner dialogue ever says is, “You are soooo totally getting fired.”
My wife has to talk me out of it every night.
Keep in mind, I have no reason to think this. I haven’t gotten a nasty email, nobody’s given me a “talking to,” I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback and, OK, maybe some slight indifference. Why am I freaking out about getting fired? What the fuck is wrong with me?
I know all this shit is completely illogical, yet I can’t make the thoughts stop. It’s like I don’t have control over one-half of my brain anymore.
It feels like my fight-or-flight switch is stuck in the “on” position. It’s been this way ever since the COVID lockdowns.
COVID sorta broke my brain— not because I was afraid of getting sick. It had more to do with the chaos, the fear, the anger. Once I saw that shit on, like, a societal level— that scared the living shit outta me, man.
It all happened during a very hectic time in my life. I had just moved to Milwaukee in April, I was unemployed, isolated— really just at a loss for reasons to live. It was probably one of the lowest points in my life and I still don’t think my brain has fully recovered from that shit. They say sometimes bipolar disorder is triggered by a stressful event, I think that might’ve been it for me.
Then again, I’ve always been this way. I was always the shy kid in school, the loner. I’ve never felt comfortable around groups of people. I’m not sure why. I understand it’s illogical. I’m a retard for caring so much about what people think of me.
But that’s me. Closed-off, in my own head, terrified of everybody, completely passive, just a shell of a human being. One foot in this world and one foot in my own world. Am I autistic?
Probably not. Neurotic? Absolutely. Anxious? I suppose. Depressed? Every goddamn day, babyyyyyyyyyyyy.
It all coagulates into this impregnable white noise that makes it impossible to focus on anything but the pain.
I sit there in my chair and think, “These people probably see me over here pouting… They probably think I’m arrogant and lazy, that I’ve got a bad attitude. They probably hate the energy I’m bringing into the office. These people probably can’t wait until I get fired.”
The most fucked up part is when you realize that “these people” aren’t saying anything. You’re the one saying all these things to yourself. You’re just projecting it onto them because that’s what you think you deserve to hear.
That’s when you go, ah shit. I am mentally ill. That’s wild. Damn.
I left work for a medically necessary haircut. I had an appointment at a barbershop called “The Barbershop.” Cool name.
I have a bad habit of bouncing from barber to barber. Given my hair’s natural tendency to grow at a consistent rate, you’d think I’d find a “go-to guy” and schedule out my appointments, like an adult. Instead, I prefer to wait until the last minute, when my hair resembles that of a LEGO man, and then frantically search for the next available appointment, like a crackhead in need of a fix.
The Barbershop™ is conveniently wedged between an AutoZone and an Ace Hardware along a strip mall on Waukesha's south side. Perfect for any gentleman in need of a buzzcut, brake rotors and patio furniture.
I ask for the same thing every time: A three on the sides and a thinning on top, preferably with scissors. I know it takes longer, but my fat head is too big for a full buzzcut. Take that shit down to the scalp and I look like a fucking pumpkin.
They always turn you away from the mirror during a haircut. Why is that? Are they afraid I’m going to steal their secrets?
There was a TV playing “Pictionary: The Gameshow,” which apparently is a thing. It was hosted by some annoying leather-faced jackass who did cringey dances between commercial breaks. The portly Mexican woman with the hair clippers seemed more interested in the show than my hair.
“I always laugh at the pictures they draw,” she said. “I’m like, wow, that’s supposed to be a chicken? That is so bad.”
I agreed, hoping to appease the woman who had my self-esteem for the next month in her hair-covered hands.
Once the damage was done, I thanked her for seeing me on such short notice and tipped her seven bucks. I got back in my awful car and drove back to work, slightly more confident in my drawing abilities.
After about 10 minutes of staring into space, I turned to my coworker Dan and asked, sort of as a joke, “So, how badly did this woman fuck up the back of my head?”
I swiveled my chair around and he started laughing.
“What?” I said. “How bad is it?”
“Dude!” he said.
“Lemme take a picture of this.”
I was mortified.
This woman gave me the fuck-my-shit-up fam special. Jesus Christ, I’m lookin’ like a goddamn isosceles triangle! How did God let this happen?
“Is this, like, a style?” I asked. “I mean, the woman was Mexican…”
“What…?” he laughed.
“No, I mean, like, do Mexican dudes wear their hair like this? Is it a style?”
“No dude!” He laughed. He thought I was doing a bit.
“You should go back and have them fix that,” he said. “By the way, wanna go rip a dart? I’m about to head out for one.”
“Maybe in a little bit,” I said. “I have to process this.”
I ran into the bathroom and used the camera on my phone to gawk at my misfortune. One of the team leads walked in and saw me taking selfies in the mirror like a 14-year-old girl in 2008.
“Dude, is the back of my head all fucked up?” I asked.
He looked. “Actually, yeah,” he said. “That’s really bad. You should have them fix that.”
Great, now I have another fucking errand to run today.
“Alright, I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” Chad said, as he headed for the door in his Patagonia jacket.
I sat back down at my desk with two more hours to kill.
A job like this makes you an expert in killing time. I’ve only been here a month and I already have several strategies:
Space out: This is easily the worst strategy. Sure, you can stare at your computer screen for an hour, but then you’ll realize it’s only been ten minutes.
Randomly scroll the internet: Randomly clicking around on a website really makes it look like you’re working. Try to avoid popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, as these are dead giveaways of your incompetence.
Get a cup of coffee: Alright! We’re up and moving now, folks! A quick jaunt over to the coffee machine is a surefire way to kill at least three minutes, with the added bonus of being able to stretch your legs in the process. If the coffee machine is empty, even better. Now you get to stand there for 10 minutes while it fills up. And if anyone yells at you, you can say, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee,” and somewhere, an angel will lose its wings and fall from heaven and be tortured in hell for all eternity.
Refill your water bottle: The bigger the bottle, the better. Personally, I go with the gallon bottle. I drink two of these bitches every day. Not only does it take a good five minutes to fill up, but it also has the added benefit of making me have to go pee seventeen times a day.
Go to the gas station next door: Now we’re talking. Get some fresh air, grab a Red Bull, a meat stick, some Pringles… What else do you need?
Smoke a cigarette: I don’t smoke cigarettes. Unless Dan offers me one, in which case, I do. Cigarettes have the added benefit of causing death, which is the ultimate time killer.
“Can’t come into work tomorrow, Shirley, sorry, I’m dead!”
Take a shit: At last, we’ve reached the ultimate time killer: Taking a shit and then hiding in the bathroom for like 20 minutes. Employed by employees for generations, this time-tested method of wasting time is as foolproof as it is hard to prove. What are you going to do, time my bathroom breaks? What is this? China? An Amazon fulfillment center?
The home stretch. It was time. I grabbed my phone and sauntered away to the bathroom for the tenth and final time of the day. I fired up Bloon Tower Defense and got popping while my bowels tried to decide if they had any more shit to spare.
The bathroom was cold, so cold in fact, that when I looked down, I noticed a problem. My dick, which had shriveled to the size of a baby carrot, did not have the “droop factor” necessary to deposit my piss safely into the toilet below. Instead, the piss was shooting straight forward, over the lip of the toilet bowl, and directly into the pants around my ankles. A river of piss was leaking out underneath the stall door. I scrambled to wipe up the spill before anyone noticed, dabbing the floor and my pants simultaneously, while lead and camo balloons decimated my defenses.
“Hey Dan, on second thought, I think I’ll take that cigarette.”