Tag Archives: Work

Dude, what happened?

This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, sitting on that park bench, waiting to make a move. He should have made a move like an hour ago, or even if he tried to do something like half an hour ago, maybe he could have pulled something off. But now there’s no chance. Even if he got up right this second, he’s going to be late. He’s regretting ever having gotten up and gone into the city today. Or even more than that, he’s regretting going onto craigslist looking for jobs, spending all of that time writing out his resume, taking the day off so that he could go into this interview.


And for this, it’s pathetic. He knows it, too. He got up early. No, even before that. He’s been getting up early for days, ever since he got that email from the recruiter telling him that she set up a meeting. It was one of those moments where his heart let out something that can only be described as a double beat, like one beat, but with the power of at least two, followed by a silence, a long moment where he could feel the sweat build up in his glands, that moment right before his skin would get wet, it was cool, but not in a comfortable way, like an electric way, like even though he knew it was sweat, it could have very easily been fire. And that moment stretched out forever, he wondered if his heart would ever start beating again, and right before it did, it always did, for a fraction of that infinite space, something inside just kind of wished that it wouldn’t start up again. He didn’t want to die or anything that dramatic, but going forward didn’t really seem that appealing either, and he wondered what it would be like to spend an eternity right here, right in this elongated pause in between beats.

But then it beat and he couldn’t go to sleep that night. The closest thing he got to rest were these sort of sleep-like states where, even though he was aware that he was in his bed trying to not be awake, the dreams came at him anyway, dreams of showing up to the interview, trying to blow on his hands to evaporate some of the sweat from his palms, trying to figure out what he’d say to the secretary when he walked in the building. And then he’d have dreams in the other direction, where everything would go almost ridiculously according to plan, if he had a plan. But they’d hire him and right away he’d be the boss and he’d accumulate so much vacation time that he’d be on vacation almost instantly, a tropical island getaway, one of those seaside resorts where he wouldn’t even have to raise his hand to order another drink, no, the hotel staff would be so accommodating, they’d have it all timed out, so that exactly as he took his last sip, the empty glass would be replaced by a new one.

This was like three days of non-sleep, all the while the pressure of figuring out what to say, when to show up, how many copies of his resume to print out, what subway he’d take to the office, what kind of tie would he wear, should he wear a full suit or just a jacket and tie, did he need to get a haircut or would that look too eager? And he got there like three hours early, just in case, just in case the subway broke down, or it started raining and the tunnels got flooded, or if he lost his MetroCard and all of the machines at the station stopped working, so he’d have to walk to the next stop just to be able to pay for his ride, or if he got to the building on time but couldn’t find the right entrance, so many variables.

And in his rush to get out the door in the morning, he was starving, but he didn’t eat anything, and he usually drank like three or four cups of coffee, but not today, nothing, and so he couldn’t go to the bathroom when he woke up, because he was so nervous and he didn’t have the coffee in his system, and everything just felt off, hungry and full at the same time. He figured he’d get something to eat, get a cup of coffee. But not now, not just yet, maybe in an hour, just so that he’d get that nice after-lunch buzz, just one cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine to really make him stand out, to bring out his inner go-getter.

In an hour or two. But for right now, he might as well just sit on this park bench and try to calm down, to cool off. And he sat there and watched everybody else coming and going to their jobs. He looked at his messenger bag, which really wasn’t necessary, he only had one folder inside, five copies of his resume printed on not-too-fancy cardstock inside of that. Did the bag look as hollow on him as it felt carrying it around? Could you tell from looking at him that gravity was having a hard time keeping this empty bag fastened to his shoulder?

And he couldn’t get off of it. The sweat came back but this time it did feel like burning. And even though the minutes ticked by in what seemed like an exponentially decreasing speed, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he should’ve gotten something to eat a while ago, that now he wouldn’t have time to walk around the block and find a deli, to eat something without making it obvious that he’d just eaten, that he should’ve gotten up ten minutes ago and started walking toward the building, that his phone’s ringing in his pocket and he should at least answer it, say something about being right outside, that he should really at a minimum take his phone out of his pocket to see if it was the recruiter or the employer trying to figure out what happened, why he didn’t show.

And what’s it going to feel like on the train ride back? Just because you look like a commuter coming back from a job doesn’t mean everyone can’t tell that it’s all bullshit, that you’re the only pretending, just for one day. What are you going to say to your cat when you walk back inside the apartment later on in the evening, when he’s looking up at you, asking without asking, how did it go? How are you going to just sit back down on that couch like nothing happened? What did you do today, dude, what happened to your day? Are you going to have to get this shirt dry-cleaned again? What about the slightly more expensive resume paper, are you just going to add that to the list of money spent on almost making it to a job interview? And what’s the point of trying again? What are they going to say if you ask for another day off? How is next time going to be any easier?

Labor Day gratitude

Happy Labor Day everybody! Here’s to us, the workers, the men and women that make this country work. If it weren’t for a strong work ethic, this nation would have gone straight down the pipes a long time ago. So go ahead, take one Monday off, you earned it.


Here’s to a minimum wage that hasn’t gone up in forever, that when adjusted for inflation, doesn’t allow a full-time working adult to make a living. Here’s to you, minimum wage worker, thanks for doing what you’re doing, even though you probably have to ask for some sort of government assistance even though you are working, even though a lot of minimum wage employers won’t actually hire you full-time, they’ll make your hours just a little short of full-time, because they don’t want to pay you insurance or a living wage.

A special Labor Day thank you to our wonderful politicians, year after year doing nothing to address the issue of stagnating wages. Thanks to the Democrats for paying very mild lip service to crafting legislation that would force job creators to pay a fair wage to their workers, but an extra special thanks to the Republican naysayers, ensuring through their steadfast opposition that eight or ten dollars an hour mandated by the government is just fine.

And a shout out to all the employers that only pay their employees the legally allowed bare minimum. You’re doing a great job. This is what America is all about. This is what life is all about. It’s about taking as much as you can, giving as little as possible, and making sure that nothing ever changes.

But really, thank you, thank you, thank you, to the millions of illegal immigrants currently toiling away in our fields, picking our strawberries, canning our tomatoes, all of the sharecropping jobs that pay just enough for an individual to survive. How much does an undocumented immigrant make nowadays anyway? I have no idea. That’s the whole point. It’s undocumented.

Just never complain about anything, you hear that aliens? We all appreciate your hard work, but if you complain, or cause a fuss, we’ll send you back. Where? Who cares? Somewhere south of the border. You want that? We don’t really care, because there are millions and millions of eager non-citizens willing to risk their lives to take your place. They won’t complain. So think about that the next time you try another one of those May Day parades come spring.

Finally, I’d like to send out my sincere thanks to the people at the top. Thank you, really, thank you, for making our country what it is. You are the foundation upon which the entire nation stands. You create the jobs. You spend the money that makes funding national campaigns possible. You send the lobbyists to Washington to then remind the politicians what they were sent there to do. Thank you for using your power responsibly and fairly. It’s very clear that, with all of the money and power and law at your disposal, you’ve all been doing a really good job for the past thirty years making America a great place for everybody to live. Seriously, business people live and die by results. And the results speak for themselves. Keep up the great work. Don’t change anything.

Everybody else, I hope you had a nice day of barbequing. It would be nice if you could come in early tomorrow and get a head start on the four-day week.

Nap time

If I have enough time, I like to take a nap during the middle of the day. I almost never get the chance to do it, because society doesn’t work that way. It should. I hate the whole “working hard or hardly working” mentality. Can’t I be doing both? Why are we expected to bust our asses for so many hours every week? As more and more jobs get automated, wouldn’t it make sense to redefine full-time work?

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But whatever, I’m talking about naps. They’re awesome. Nothing’s better than crashing on the couch at around three or four in the afternoon and waking up whenever. I listen to people talking about napping, I always get a little suspicious whenever someone tries to tell me about the effectiveness of a power nap. I’m sorry, but if you send me to sleep for only ten to fifteen minutes, we’re both going to have a pretty serious problem on our hands ten to fifteen minutes from now.

No, when I go in for a nap, I never set an alarm. It’s one of the only times in an adult life where you get to wake up as if you didn’t really have to. I wake up in the morning, it’s because I have to. You can’t just lie in bed all day, unless you’re sick, and that doesn’t count. But a good hour-long, two, two-and-a-half hour nap, that’s the best.

I like to, after I wake up, just kind of stay there on the couch for a while longer. Like I’ll be awake, but I won’t open my eyes for another five or ten minutes. And then once I face the waking world, I’ll just stretch out, check my phone. And then I’m up.

After a really good nap, I feel like my day has been completely rebooted. It’s like I’m somehow siphoning off some extra morning energy from an unknown afternoon source. It’s great. Everything I do after a nap is more productive, I’m happier, people are happier with me. Why can’t we make room for naps in modern society?

Does anybody else think that getting up, working, and then going to bed is kind of a dumb idea? Can’t we make some room for naps? I’d love to take a nap right now. But it’s already ten at night, and so I feel like if I take a nap now, that’ll be it, I might as well just go to bed. No, tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m definitely taking a nap. You hear that boss? I don’t care if you’re not supposed to sleep in the coat closet. I’m taking a nap.

What’s your passion?

What’s your passion? What gets you up in the morning? Well, besides the overwhelming need to pee. I should have phrased it a little better. What gets you out of your pajamas in the morning? Really? Eleven? Yeah, that’s still technically morning, but still, come on, that’s a little late. No, I’m just saying, that’s a big chunk of the day gone, right there. I mean, unless you work nights or something. Do you work nights? No?


OK, well, when you get out of your pajamas at eleven, what motivates you to brush your teeth, take a shower, to go tackle whatever is you’ve got to tackle? Yeah, OK, your dog needs to be walked, that’s valid. But is that your passion? Is that all you’ve got, your dog?

I always ask people, if you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do every day? Well, OK, really? Video games and movies on the couch, that’s it? Fine, what is it about video games that gets you going? Have you ever considered a career in video games? It’s not something you can do overnight, but maybe you could start off small, some programming courses here and there, a little intro to graphic design at night.

No? None of that sounds appealing? Well, yes, that’s a fair point. But do you honestly feel like you’re at the level where you’d be able to compete against professional gamers at the highest level? Because that’s what you’re talking about, right? Entering video game competitions? Are there cash prizes? I mean, are there people that make a living off of winning? How many?

I’m just thinking, is it like, “I want to be a professional basketball player?” Because sure, that’s a dream, but that’s one where you’ve got to be a little realistic. Like, if you really, really like basketball, but you’re kind of objectively looking at the possibilities that a guy in his early thirties might go from wherever he is right now all the way to the pros, it’s just … it’s one thing to chase your dreams, sure.

Well yeah, I was just using basketball as an example. In that case it’s really kind of easy to look at someone and tell them, listen, there’s not a lot of evidence or example that shows that there’s even a chance that a guy in your situation could go pro. I mean with video games, sure, age isn’t really a factor, but I mean … have you ever competed in any of these tournaments? No? Like if you play online in a randomly matched multiplayer, what are they chances that you’re going to come in the top ten percent?

OK, so facing those facts, do you really think that video games are your passion? I mean, is that how you’d treat something that you’re passionate about? Because I don’t think just casually spending your time on XBOX Live counts as a passion. And yeah, I see the number of hours you’ve accumulated, that’s … well, that’s a lot of hours. But it’s not impressive. That’s just spending time. That’s like taking a note of all of the meals you’ve eaten in the past five months and then telling me that you have a passion for eating.

All right, you know what? I’m just trying to do your mom a favor here, OK? You don’t have to be rude. Yeah, well, I don’t care if you don’t think Life Coach is a real job, I’m out there, I’m doing it, all right, whatever you’ve got going on here, this is definitely not a sustainable lifestyle. Oh yeah, great, well I disagree with you. Great, so, you know what? Why don’t you go … no, I’m just going to go. Good luck with everything, OK? I hope this all works out for you.

Time-control powers

I always thought that it would be cool to have a superpower where you could freeze time around you for however long you wanted. The best part about having this power would mean that I’d never be tired every again. Not really, not to the point where I wouldn’t be able to immediately take a nap. As it is right now, it’s always a struggle to get to sleep at a reasonable hour, and then it’s equally difficult getting up in the morning like I imagine adults are supposed to do.


But with my time-stopping powers I’d just be like – snap! – time is frozen, let me enjoy another two hours of rest. And I’d get up and go about my day as if I’m running on a full tank of gas. Because I don’t know what it’s like for everybody else, but I totally need eight hours of sleep. Anything less and I feel like something died deep down inside of me, that I’m carrying a heavy weight, pulling me to the ground, “Go to sleep,” it’s constantly whispering in my ears, “Right here is fine, just close your eyes and relax.”

And the world just isn’t set up for impromptu napping. Like, every once in a while I’ll be at work in the restaurant, I’ll see the linen truck pull up, they’re dropping off giant sacks of freshly cleaned white napkins, and all I want to do is clear a space and lie down on top of those bags, a giant soft pillow that I could use to take a load off, just for fifteen minutes, I could get away with disappearing for twenty minutes.

But like I said, that’s not how it works. Your boss catches you asleep in the backroom, you just know he’s going to say something like, “Hey Rob, if you don’t have epilepsy, you’re fired.” That’s why I need those time control powers. I could do it whenever I wanted. I could sleep in the back for an hour, two hours, however long it might take for my batteries to recharge all the way.

And these powers would come in handy for so many other aspects of my life, stuff that doesn’t involve sleeping or napping. Like, every time I go to the movies, I always wind up drinking my Cherry Coke way too fast. Then I have spend the second half of the film squirming in my seat, waiting for the credits to roll so I can relieve my swollen bladder. If I could just freeze that moment, I wouldn’t have to be so uncomfortable.

Or if I’m on a game show someday, like Jeopardy for example, I’d wager everything on the Daily Double, every time. Why? Because if I don’t know an answer, I could just – pop! – make everything around me stop while I take a walk to the nearest library and check out all of the answers. (Unfortunately, I’m assuming my cell phone and the entire Internet would be frozen along with everything else, so I’d have to resort to an old-fashioned printed and bound version of Wikipedia.)

Don’t you hate it when you’re not paying attention and you miss your subway stop? You have to get off the train and walk all the way over to the other side of the tracks and wait for the next train heading in the opposite direction. It takes forever. But if I could stop time, I’d just pry open the door and walk along the tracks back to the station that I just missed. There’d be no danger of any oncoming trains, or any rats or anything like that, because they’d all be frozen.

The only thing is, all of those stolen moments have got to add up, right? An hour here, ten minutes there, all of the sudden people are going to start asking me, “Rob, how is it that, despite the fact that you always look so unbelievably well rested, you seem to get older and older every time that I see you?” I’d get so dependent on stopping time for even the most mundane of tasks that eventually I’ll have lived an entire parallel lifetime in between the minutes while everyone around me is stopped in their tracks.

So I guess, unless I could add a stipulation to my powers, that I don’t age while time is stopped, I’d have to reluctantly turn down the ability to freeze time. And it sucks because, the more I think about it, there’s no way around it. If you’re moving around and using energy and everything, your body has got to be doing its thing, converting food to fuel, shedding old cells, everything that characterizes the whole aging process. It feels like it would be a cop-out to add the no-aging clause, almost like that would be its own superpower. It’s like when people ask you to pick one superpower, you can’t say flight and invisibility. It’s one or the other.

But other than the whole shaving-years-off-of-your-life-by-taking-naps-at-work thing, it would be really cool. Because I’m thinking about it, and I don’t know, is it better to have a long life where you’re really tired, or a shorter life where you’re constantly feeling refreshed?