Diary of the Modern Man

Work


It’s another Tuesday, sitting at my desk, staring at my computer, wondering where I went wrong in life. There are all these annoying sayings about Mondays being horrible, the stupid “hump day” reference to Wednesdays, and a celebratory thanking of god for the end of the work week. Really, though, every day is equally horrible. I sit at my desk every single day surrounded by what is essentially a harder version of cardboard, inside a gigantic warehouse like building, that would have been deemed some kind of castle or fortress only a few hundred years ago, which only lets in the minimum amount of sunlight possible to prevent me and my co-workers from slitting each other’s throats and drinking the blood after convincing ourselves we’re actually vampires who only dream of the outside world when we’re asleep in our sarcophagus-esk office that radiates insanity inducing fluorescent light which seems to turn the skin pale and make one react negatively to garlic, the whole time wondering why I can’t do this job from home or from a beautiful park bench with nearby wifi.

It seems the only reason to actually physically be at work is for a meeting. The meetings, of course, are where everyone talks about nothing for hours, wasting time in the presence of others as if their coworkers were witnesses for a potentially useful alibi as to why they weren’t able to accomplish anything that day due to the constant need to endlessly discuss nothing in a room full of people only to end the discussion with the slight possibility of learning, deciding, or accomplishing something that could have been handled in a set of succinct emails. Yet, it seems as if the rare moments when a quick discussion would be most easily handled in person within a matter of minutes, where hand gestures and inflection are important, where possible illustration and on the fly clarifications would be useful, where real interpersonal communication may be the key to agreement and understanding, these discussions are handled through email.

I could always quit, but quit to do what exactly? Go to another company that demands and treats me the same? Get another job just to act like I really want to buy into the new culture and products, that I’m really all in for the success of the brand and the company’s bottom line, pretending like I’ll do whatever it takes to work as hard as I can to be paid the minimum amount of money possible? It’s all the same shit with a different label. On the other hand, it’s impossible to imagine doing anything on my own. I’ve been so beaten down throughout my life by a ritual of conformity that started when I was barely old enough to tie my shoes that I don’t have any self-respect or dignity left to start my own venture. Basically, I’m too much of a pussy to quit.

I’m not a slave in the traditional sense of course. There are no whips or chains, no threats of physical violence, at least not directly. The physical harm is implied by the fear of being unable to meet my basic needs if I choose to leave my servitude. However, all that really keeps me here is the inescapable social contract that I need to live like others, have the stuff that others have, enjoy the things others enjoy, work my life away, and pay my taxes like everyone else. For a minute, when I’m staring into the disgusting cracks between the letters of my keyboard, I get the courage to walk out without saying even a single word to anyone else, never to return, but the feeling fades. What would I do the next day? What would I do if people realized I wasn’t getting paid to waste my entire life away until I’m too old to enjoy any of the insignificant amount of money I’ve made because I used all my healthy years being drained of my youthful energy and productivity, only being left to fend for myself when the only thing useful I can do is not shit myself while I watch TV until I die, but not before I can’t even not shit myself.

Not everyone seems to think it’s all bad though. Just last Friday we had a big retirement party for Joe. He’s worked at the company for 43 years. We had cake and ice cream and they gave him a trinket. Cake, ice cream, and a trinket. Basically, Joe received what amounted to a total $31.56 as a going away present for spending most of his time over the course of his life pretending to work 40+ hours a week but only really working 6.5 hours a week, all before he withers away into dust. But hey, Joe seemed happy, or at least that’s what Joe’s face said even though peering into his eyes on his last day revealed an immense sadness that can’t be put into words as his internal subconscious realizes the accumulation of the last 43 years has led to a moment of cake and ice cream with people that will forget his existence within a matter of months, and a trinket that will forever remind him of his wasted life. Joe doesn’t think this consciously, however, he buried that part of himself long ago. He buried it on nights and weekends living his life, constantly telling himself that hard work is virtuous until he convinced himself of the lie. Joe never realized the devil works harder than he ever has.



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