Saturday, May 28, 2005

On Thursday, I had my final day at work. As expected, I did about fifteen minutes of actual work, allowed myself an hour-and-a-half lunch, and then jack-assed the rest of the day away.

I came back on Friday for my going-away/birthday party which I had been touting as "My Final Huzzah." I told everyone that the theme was "East Coast vs. West Coast." I showed up wearing a blue bandana, a wife-beater, one pant-leg rolled up, and a temporary tattoo of a dragon on my neck along with a couple of other tattoos my sister drew on with Magic Marker that said "Thug Life" on my shoulder and "Anya" (the name of my neice) on my clavicle.

I'm not sure which coast I was representin', but I am certain it was to the fullest.

I had reserved one of our large training/seminar rooms with multimedia capabilities. It was easier than I thought. I just told the person in charge that it was for a "team building activity" and I neatly skirted mentioning that I would no longer be an employee at the time of the event.

I highly recommend learning some meaningless bureaucratic terms. They're very effective with people who don't want to admit they don't understand what you're talking about.

When I entered the training room in the building that I used to call work, I was not surprised to see that no one else had put much effort into the theme. I understood. I'm sure they had opportunities to dress up as gangsta rappers at work all the time.

We had pizza, cookies, chips, brownies, and soda. We had chess, dice, cards, and Hungry Hungry Hippos (thanks, Jake). I brought down the projection screen and slipped Office Space into the DVD player. I laughed at the movie. I also laughed at my supervisors as they cringed and fretted during some of the racier scenes in the film and whenever the movie blasted explicit gangsta rap music. To their credit, none of them made me stop the film. This confirmed what I had long suspected: the disciplinary problems I often presented them with had not been covered in any of the corporate training, rendering them essentially powerless as long as I remained polite and exuded confidence.

I'm going to have to put that on my next resume'.

So now I'm free as long as my bank account holds up. It is a strange feeling. I think it's like when Neo touches the mirror in the first Matrix movie. There is this little blob of freedom on my fingertip and it is spreading, slowly at first, but gaining speed.

I think I'm starting to feel like myself again which is good because, all things considered, I really liked me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

So I never explained what happened during my Italian presentation on The Inferno.

I walked into class carrying a whole bunch of posterboards and a gasoline can and lighter hidden in a spare bag. I took my seat and waited patiently.

My name was called, I stepped to the front of the class, I began my presentation began, and everything started off smoothly. I had essentially made a giant slide show with posterboards depicting the Dante's journey through Hell. Oh yes, many-a wicked stick figure was shown suffering plethora of poorly-drawn tortures.

After all my descriptions, I set up the posterboards around the classroom in order of the levels of Hell. Then, I held up pictures of well-known people and asked the class where in Hell they belonged. Einstein was in Limbo (virtuous non-believer), President Clinton was in Level 2 (lustful), Ruben Stoddard was in Level 3 (gluttonous) and so one. The last picture I held up was one of myself. I was curious to see where the class would place me. I was thinking Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) because I was usually in a bad mood when I was in class, since it was at 7 pm and I'd been working all day and I probably hadn't eaten.

They couldn't come to a consensus so I placed myself in Level 2, since that's where the Dante's Inferno Online Test placed me. Although, to be fair, I scored very high for almost every level except Limbo.

After that, it was time for my big finale. I grabbed all the posterboards and my notes and dumped them in a pile.

"Now what would a presentation on Dante's Inferno be without..." I rummaged in my bag and pulled out the gasoline can and the long barbecue lighter. "Without the Inferno?" I finished. I started pouring the can's contents onto the pile of papers. When it was empty I tossed it to the side. I held up the lighter high over my head and sparked a flame. I stole a glance at my audience. There was a variety of facial expressions. Some disbelief, some shock, and (my personal favorite) a good deal of morbid fascination.

I let the lighter extinguish and lowered my arm. "You were all just going to sit there and let me do this?!" I yelled. "What's wrong with all of you?!"

The liquid in the gas can was water, of course.

I was disappointed with my class. I had been bracing myself to be tackled to the ground or at least been hit with a chair. But no, nothing. I guess for some crazy reason, people trust that I know what I'm doing. I appreciate that, of course.

I can, however, see a very large downside to that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"What are you going to do now?"

Ben, I can't tell you how many times I've had to answer that question. Whenever people around here hear that I'm quitting, the first question is usually "Why?"

My answer to that question is "Because it's my one-year anniversary. When I started I gave myself one year to play grown-up and then I'd leave."

That answer usually leads to blank stares. After the person stops trying to figure out whether I'm joking or serious, the second question is "What are you going to do now?" The answer to that question is another I greatly enjoy giving and, coincidently, the same thing I'm going to have chiseled on my tombstone:

"I don't know."

Most of the people around here have a very difficult time hearing this, and if I were to judge by their facial expressions, for very different reasons.

In general, they look at me like I'm a fool. This only reinforces my belief that I'm doing exactly the right thing.

Well, I have to go. I'm at work. That's right. Let them catch me. What are they going to do to me that I haven't already done to myself?