Friday, October 26, 2012

Why I'm ready for my trained monkey now

I don't have much to say, anymore, and I don't want to write about work, but today my boss told me I'm "very good at filling in forms." He said it as a compliment, and I made a joke about it--I'll put it on my resume!--but then he insisted that it was indeed a skill that not everyone was capable of, example this guy... I took the form (already completed by this guy--shoddily, we can only assume) and prepared to copy the information over to a template of the exact same form but in a Word file, and with his words still echoing in my head I started thinking about what else I am good at at work. Printing checks and putting them in envelopes and mailing them. I am goddamn good at that, I thought. Then I thought, goddammit.

And this is not about the little girl with dreams of being a veterinarian/teacher/librarian and how strange she would have thought it had she known that the pinnacle of her professional achievements would consist of sealing envelopes, I swear to god it's not. It's more about how many people are working so far below their abilities; me and every other  person who could easily be replaced by a trained monkey at their place of employment; and it's not a judgement, but more just a reflection on what the world could be if everyone in it was doing everything they are capable of. But if everyone was doing everything they are capable of, then who would fill in the forms? Who would seal the envelopes? But you know, it's not that I mind doing those things. And if I was doing those things as a necessary part of my Very Important and Challenging Yet Rewarding Work, then I would be absolutely fine with that. It's not that I feel like it's beneath me, or anything. But when those things are all there is, then suddenly, it's like, shit, man... This is all there is.

I feel like I need to add a caveat here, stating that, as always, this post is not about you. I am not judging your job or aspirations. It can be great to have an easy and boring job; I know this. To get paid for doing it! It seems almost insane if you think about it too closely. I know it's a gift horse. And I'm staring right into its gaping maw. 

The thing is, I am not doing anything else of consequence with my life, at the moment. I am not doing this job and raising a family. Or doing this job and going out every night. Or doing this job and any other thing that might make it all worthwhile. So when I work myself into a hand-wringing panic wondering if this is all there is, the worst part is knowing that actually, it kind of is.

And look! I have managed to write yet another goddamned depressing post that makes people not want to look me directly in the eye. 

Here.


Call it even?  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why curiosity killed the rat: a tale of a rat and its tail

Hey everyone. Long time no blog, eh? All has been pretty quiet, here. Although, not entirely quiet enough, as I received the following e-mail from my neighbor this morning. It's simultaneously the best and worst e-mail I have ever received, and so I had to share. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll throw up in your mouth a little bit. Here it is, in its entirety.

Hi [Property Manager],

This whole thing boils down to one simple comment, but I thought the story deserved to be told. As you know, last week, Rachel in apt. [XXX] opened the door to the south stairwell, and encountered a rat. A big rat. Both apparently frightened, Rachel dashed down the stairs and out the back exit and the rat scurried over her feet into the first floor hallway of the building. After reporting her experience to you via e-mail, [our neighbor] chimed in that she's heard scratching between the walls at night. Soon thereafter, E, our trusty exterminator, paid a visit to the building. Then, over the long holiday weekend, all went quiet. Until today. 

Herbie, my faithful mutt, woke me with a bark this morning, reacting to sound outside our condo. Still adjusting from unconscious to alert, my ears suggested the squeals came from the street and the thuds from the sidewalk. But then, as my mind worked to match the sounds to those familiar, I realized they weren’t garbage trucks or worn down brake pads. And their sources were coming from the hallway.

I began to fill with dread. [Our drug dealer neighbor] was back, he and his friends were fighting. [Our crazy ass psycho neighbor] was throwing newspapers in front of everyone's door and nailing pamphlets of condemnation to the wall. But, I thought, what would those things sound like? Doubtfully quite like this. 

While holding Herbie close, stroking his head to calm his nerves, my brain returned a hit for the audio: the banging of office equipment... and the sound of pain. Both were outside my unit's door. 

After what felt like an hour, but was surely a mere few minutes, the hall went quiet and I felt the coast was clear. Moving slowly from the bed, I went to the door and aligned my eye with the peephole. It was the usual view of a dark beige carpet and a light beige wall, but there was a dark form in the far left of the fisheye lens. My curiosity piqued, I decided to unobscure my sight and cracked open the door. And there it was, the top half of a paper shredder beneath a dead grey rat. 

Unpleasant. I shut the door. The excitement over, my active thoughts moved to preparing for work. But as I dressed, the annals of my mind continued to analyze the scene. Someone killed a rat, that much was clear. But, why the paper shredder? Maybe the rat-killer used it to bludgeon the rat - but why would the rat be on top of the shredder? Unable to answer the question, the dark regions of my brain moved on to other matters.  

Ready to leave the house, and finally over the rat, I took Herbie outside for a bathroom break before I left for work, the rat and the shredder were gone. Only a few shredded pieces of paper remained to indicate there was ever a shredder on the floor in front of my door. With that mental note, the already terminal remainder of my hope for an explanation died.

Returning from Herbie’s favored patch of grass, however, we ran into K, exiting her apartment with a broom. I was about to ask her if she knew anything about the morning's events, when she said, "I'm so sorry to have bothered you this morning." 

"So it was you?" I inquired.

She set the broom to the floor and placed her hands around it, preparing to sweep. She paused. "Yeah. I don't know what to call it, it wasn't a mouse, it was... it was..."

"A big ass rat?" 

Her eyes got big, "Yes!" she said with firm surprise, before her mouth stretched in a silent scream.

A beat passed and I asked what happened. This morning in her apartment, her friend told her he found something, and Kim wasn't going to like it. In another room, there was a rat. An angry rat. A stationary rat. Upon inspection, it turned out to be a rat whose tail had been partially chewed and stuck in the blades of Kim's paper shredder. The rat was pissed. 

A short series of events later, Kim's friend moved the top of the shredder, rat still attached, into the hallway. Then, he beat it mercilessly with a broom until it stopped screaming and lay motionless, tail still stuck in the machine. 

While I was out with Herbie, Kim disposed of the rat and its very expensive trap. Thus explains the mystery. 

tl;dr At least one rat has been found inside a unit in the building, I recommend E pay a visit to [XXX] to inspect for method of entry and take whatever measures necessary to end the reign of rat terror.

Many thanks,
J


So, that's what's new with me, Internet. What's new with you? 

Rat vs. Shredder