There are thousands of people who swear they would rather live in the streets than resign themselves to the drudgery of office work. I had always been lukewarm on the prospect. (After all, it might be boring, but no one will ever shrug and say: “Yup, the sting ray got him. You’d think it would have been one of the crocs.”) But then again, I had the sneaking feeling that one day it would get boring.
I’m not saying that there isn’t some truth to this, but I have discovered that office work comes with its own particular brand of predators.
1. The telemarketer.
I have no idea why I never realized that these people can call you at work as easily as at home, but it is so true. There is no way to punish the caller who tries to harass you into overpaying for customized stationary and business cards (which you have anyway). You just have to wait until they finally draw breath. Or hang up. Hanging up would be better, but you tend to feel a sneaking misguided urge to politeness towards these people. So you wait while they tell you about the free estimate and their offer to send ten free file folders if you’ll give them credit card information … and you wonder if the person on the other line actually thinks you’re dumb enough to do this. After all, he might be soulless, but he’s still smart enough to know how to cheat you out of fifteen minutes.
2. The hemorrhaging copier.
There is no such thing as a simple printer/copier/fax machine. You can ask for something simple, but you’ll still wind up with parts that blink and fall apart and maim the papers fed into them. And the maiming and the falling apart will inevitably happen at just the moment when you need fifty copies of a document for someone who is standing there and wants it right now.
Enter the copier repair guy. He really doesn’t seem to understand how you could have broken the machine, but neither does he have the part, so instead he gets annoyed with you and shuts off the printer even if it was still kind of working. At which point he leaves to retrieve the part and doesn’t come back for several hours or — gasp — days. And you will never copy another thing.
I know. It sounds pathetic. But it’s everywhere, and it’s edges are surprisingly sharp — even resilient, depending on the quality of the paper. But the true ninjas of the paper world are envelopes. Because they trick you into actually placing your tongue on them and licking them. Do you know of anything else you can hand to someone and say, “I licked it earlier” without getting an extremely weird look or shudder? No?
Because there’s nothing else you do that with.
So you stick your tongue on the envelope lip, and it tastes bad because who really wants to spend extra money to make the sticky part taste like strawberries. That’s a candy-ass thing to do when you can just suck it up and save the thirty cents. You needed lunch money anyway.
So you’re licking the envelope when suddenly you remember that the envelope had a pretty sharp edge. You cut your pinky finger on it earlier, but it’s too late now because your tongue is bleeding. And crap, there are 50 other envelopes to be licked before the mail guy comes to pick up the letters for the day.
And the best part is, it’s not even eleven o’clock yet.