In first grade, all the kids in my class were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. Some said they wanted to be president or a movie star. Others had more reasonable goals of being firemen, police officers, or doctors. One girl said she wanted to be a horse.
I never really had an answer for the question. When the teacher asked me, I seem to remember replying with something witty like, “I’m six, I don’t fucking know,” though the brashness of that answer seems to suggest I’ve forgotten my actual answer and employed some creative license in its place. Anyway, the point is that I didn’t know what to say.
In my heart, I knew I wanted to wake up at noon every day, eat cold pizza out of a box on the floor, play video games for 12 hours until the soreness in my hands caused them to freeze into a hideous claw, and then fall asleep watching late night Cinemax movies wherein ladies with unreasonably large bosoms have problems that only uncomfortable-looking sex on patio furniture can solve.
However, that’s not a good answer to give a teacher, especially when you’re six and aren’t yet aware that sex on patio furniture is uncomfortable. It’s still better than telling the teacher you want to be a horse, but not by much. I don’t remember what I answered, but I know I didn’t get yelled at, and that’s what really mattered. After all, this is the teacher who told the boy who wanted to be president, “Don’t be silly. You have to have a job first.” This bitch meant business, son. You had to make up something that sounded reasonable and ambitious.
Oddly enough, even while employed as an adult, I still found myself making up a description of my job that sounded reasonable and ambitious. This is probably because 90 percent of office jobs consist of e-mailing people to ask them where certain pieces of paper are, and then following up daily on said pieces of paper so you can get them, put them somewhere else, forget about them, and then say “I don’t know” and spend a week half-assedly looking for them when someone else e-mails you. But that’s another topic altogether.
Fast-forward 25 years to the present and I was living the very dream that I was afraid to admit to my teacher. Unemployed for 18 months, I woke up every day at noon, ate cold pizza, and played video games until I passed out from exhaustion, boredom, or a combination of both. I upgraded things a little by eating the cold pizza without actually getting out of bed first, and by replacing Cinemax movies with that “Family Feud” nipple slip video that’s making the rounds online, but I was still living the dream.
For about a month, anyway. As the old saying goes, everything is good in moderation and anything gets old when you do it every day, and I quickly found myself bored of video games, pizza, and even nipple slips. The only thing that could have made the irony worse was if my first grade teacher had suddenly appeared in a time machine, shouted “I told you so, doofus!” and then jumped back into the time machine and disappeared.
Caught by surprise, as time machine heckling victims usually are, I likely would have shouted some weak comeback like, “I have over 2,000 kills with the ACR in ‘Modern Warfare 2’! It’s an impressive amount!” but she probably doesn’t know what an ACR is, and time machines are really quick so she probably wouldn’t have heard the second sentence where I described that my statement was impressive.
So with me at wit’s end, it was with great relief last week that I was hired for a month of temp work. I was excited to be employed again. In 18 months, I had nearly forgotten what outside was like. Did you know it’s summertime? Apparently, that’s why it’s so warm now. I was also excited to talk to actual people again. I had taken to talking to Dom DeLouise’s Captain Chaos character in “Cannonball Run” as if he were someone who was physically in the room.
Sadly, my newfound enthusiasm only lasted two days before I discovered an undeniable truth: No matter how long I’m away from work, I still throughly despise it when I return. Almost instantly. It doesn’t matter what the job is, where it’s located, or how important it might be. I just hate work. The early start time, the hours in traffic, the dimly lit cubicle, the bosses who don’t share my enthusiasm for game show nipple slips. Even after 18 months of living so similar to a hobo that I was often mistaken for one by friends and colleagues, I still hated working.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time analyzing this and deciphering what it means, and after careful consideration, I’ve decided that the girl in my first grade class who said she wanted to be a horse was probably the smartest out of all of us. Sure, if you break your leg they send you to the glue factory, but it sure as hell beats working there.