Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Story 188: Sometimes I Work Too Hard

Zach stood and paced over to the window, looking across the cityscape through the grey veil of rain.
"It's a fair question," he said, "But to be honest I don't really know where to start. It feels, sometimes, like there's this hole inside me. A void, not in some angsty soulless way but just in the sense that it feels like something basic is missing. At home I can ignore it, drown out my worries and fears in reruns of the Cosby show and pretend for just one minute that I live in that world, in that warm protective bubble of a caring family. I don't know if being white would be an issue... I suppose I'm an adopted child in that scenario. Anyway, to come back to the actual question at hand..."

He sat down in the faux-leather chair again and rested his chin on one hand thoughtfully. "At work this empty feeling can be a real issue. You see, the kind of tedious paper-pushing and data entry that most positions require - emails, forms, whatever - do nothing at all to fill this void in me and I've realized that all other motivations aren't good enough to actually drive me to accomplish goals. Concerns for my financial stability and continued health are abstract in a way, it's not something that really feels... important. I know that's wrong, but motivation is a complex thing not dictated by logic alone. So that means that, when faced with these repetitive tasks and meaningless deadlines I will simply do nothing at all. Oh, I might reply to the occasional email just to avoid confrontation but for the most part I'm not even playing solitaire. I'll just stare at the blank screen for hours.

"Trying to distract myself from this emptiness doesn't help either," Zach said, leaning back and resting his feet on the desk. "The things that really get my blood pumping are all antisocial and self-destructive. I've gone through the break room and replaced non-dairy creamer with dishwasher detergent. I've been verbally abusive to my coworkers, or engaged in psychological warfare with them by re-arranging their personal items whenever they're not watching. I took a sick day once just so I could swing by the office during a mandatory meeting and move things - that way everyone ruled me out as a suspect. I think the time that I felt most alive, the most blissfully unaware of that missing part of me, was when I took apart the industrial copy machine after hours and replaced the guts of it with a shredder. That had a more immediate payoff than some of my other projects."

Zach sighed, lost for a moment in the pleasant memory. "Anyway, you can see that there's a net loss of productivity and profits due to my presence and I would say that, on reflection, it all comes back to that empty feeling. So... yeah. Yeah, I would say that's my biggest weakness. Next question?"
The Human Resources representative blinked, slowly, and then looked down at Zach's resume. "I... see. That's actually... the last question. It's a new, shorter interview style we're working on. Um. Well, thank you Mr. Huxtable..."
Zach grimaced. "Ah, no, sorry. I typed that by mistake. That should be 'Smith' there."
"Thank you Mr. Smith. We'll... we'll call you and let you know."