Chapter 42 – Unfit for the Working World
As I sat there on that circular couch farting my ass off, without any hair of the dog to keep my engines running, my eyelids soon got heavy and I was no longer able to stay awake. By about an hour-and-a-half before boarding time, I was out cold. When I came to, I glanced up at the clock and saw that it’d already been two in the afternoon. Even though I made it all the way to the gate from where my flight was scheduled to take off, I still managed to miss the son of a bitch because I’m that big of a drunk-ass loser.
After finding someone who worked at the airport that spoke a decent English and explaining to her what happened to me, she decided that it wasn’t my fault on account of being involuntarily bumped from the original flight that I was on-time and ready for early that morning.
“Okay,” the woman said, “your bag is already on the way to Hong Kong. You’ll have to find it once you get there. But there are a few seats open on a plane that leaves in one hour. I’m going reserve one of them for you on that flight. Just please have a seat at the gate and don’t fall asleep until you get on the plane.”
“Perfect. Thank you very much.”
When the time came, I boarded the plane which’d had rows that consisted of two seats on each side of the aisle. After finding my row I saw that some Daniel Craig lookalike had already been seated near the window. I greeted him, sat down in the aisle seat and immediately passed the fuck out. I guess that when I’d been sleeping my knee had been hanging out into the aisle because about twenty minutes into the flight it’d been brutalized by one of the attendants who’d been doing her rounds with the drink cart.
The stewardess didn’t seem to notice or care.
“Ouch,” the guy next to me said.
“Yeah, ‘ouch’ is right,” I responded, rubbing my boo-boo.
“Would you like me to switch seats with you so you can get a little sleep without worrying about your leg getting smashed up?”
“Yeah, if you don’t mind, that’d be great.”
“Yeah, no problem. Why don’t you just step out into the aisle once the cart’s passed and I’ll switch with ya.”
After the swap, I was able to get a thirty-minute catnap in before I lifted my head from the palm of my hand and started smacking my desert-dry tongue off the sticky-ass roof of my mouth.
“Aw shit,” I said while looking over at the still-rather-full container of food sitting in front of Daniel Craig, “I missed the meal?”
“Well, to be fair,” he said while wiping his fingers off with his napkin and throwing it on the tray, “you didn’t miss much of anything.”
“What is that?” I pointed to the untouched portion of mystery meat. “Is that chicken?”
“It was supposed to be.”
“You even try it?”
“Shit,” he laughed, “I’m not that adventurous. I’d sooner stick my unprotected dick in a Thai hole than eat any of that shit.”
“Here,” he picked up the dinky-ass bottle of water that’d come with the meal, “you need this more than I do.”
I grabbed it from him, tore it open and chugged the whole thing.
“So, I take it you had a rough time in Koh Samui, then?”
“Yeah, very rough,” I popped a piece of gum in my mouth to mask the stench from within. “Listen dude, I’m sorry if I stink, I didn’t have time to shower and that’s also why I’m dressed like a jag-off in this basketball jersey and swim trunks and shit.”
“It’s not a problem for me,” he smiled. “I used to dress like that all the time. But you might be a little bit cold with those clothes on when we reach Hong Kong. It’s not too hot up around those parts in February.”
“Oh yeah? Thanks for the heads-up. I got a sweatshirt in my bag I could throw on before leaving the airport,” I said then stared at the seat in front of me for a minute before turning back to him. “So, you say you used to dress like this all the time, huh? Where’s your jersey now?”
“Shit, I wish I did have a jersey on but instead I got this,” he said, pinching the collar of his fancy dress shirt between his index finger and thumb. “I grew up and now I have to dress like a fuckin’…” he took a quick look around to make sure the coast was clear, “…fag every single day of my life. It’s miserable. I hate it.”
“Who says you gotta dress like a fag?”
“I do a lot of business around here – mostly with selling electronics produced in southern China – and believe it or not, nobody wants do business with a guy in a basketball jersey. They’d rather buy shit from a guy in a suit who looks like he knows what he’s doing. It’s all about image. Everything’s about image.”
“Oh, okay. Where you from by the way?”
“My name’s Tom,” he stuck out his hand.
I grabbed on and gave it a shake.
“Glad to meet ya, Tim. Whattaya doing with your life right now?”
“Well, I mean, right now I’ve been visiting my college buddy in Singapore but back home when it’s not winter, I wash windows and clean gutters with my dad. But right now it’s just too cold for that stuff during this time of year.”
“Washing windows with your dad, huh? Fantastic. Nothing wrong with that.”
“You being sarcastic?”
“Not at all. Think of what you just said right now.”
“I mean that you have a job where you work with your dad when the weather’s favorable, make enough money to go traveling and then just piss off during the winter time. That’s what I mean.”
“Well, when you put it that way.”
“There’s no other way to put it. You’re a lucky guy,” he said. “Shit, wish I could still work with my dad then go get fucked up with my buddy in faraway lands while wearing a jersey.”
I sat there in silence as my alcohol-soaked brain tried to comprehend the enlightening information with which it’d just been presented.
“You might not realize it now, but this is it. This is the best time of your life. Twenty years ago, I was just like you – traveling all over the world, getting drunk and listening to 2 Live Crew while dressed like I didn’t give a shit about anything – maybe that’s ‘cause I didn’t have anything to have to give a shit about.
“So many young people are always in such a big hurry to get a good job right out of college – to start earning the big bucks – but it’s all bullshit.”
“What’s all bullshit?”
“Oh kid,” he sighed, “this is no way to live life. This suit and tie here – this is me going through the motions, playing other people’s games to earn a paycheck to pay for shit I don’t even want.”
“Okay, I see what you’re saying.”
“Ehhhh…You may see it just a little bit right now, but you won’t fully understand the things I’m saying to you until you’re my age and you can’t work with your dad anymore and you can’t wear a jersey all the time and you can’t party with your buddy in Singapore because everything about life as you know it right now will have changed.”
I took a moment to let it all soak in before responding…
“Well, shit, I dunno. You look like you’re doing alright for yourself. What’s so bad about what you got goin’ on?”
“Yeah. I got money now. As a forty-something-year-old businessman, I got more money than I know what to do with and so what, ya know? I got fancy cars. I got the big dream house in Antwerp. I even got the stunningly beautiful blonde wife with the biggest tits you’ve ever seen. Does that make me successful?”
“Yeah, I guess so, in most people’s eyes. But I’ll tell you right now I was much happier when I had nothing at all and was just another asshole in a jersey living a simple life. Do you know why?”
“I don’t give a shit about the fancy cars. I don’t give a shit about the big-ass house and I don’t love my wife. There’s nothing authentic about the woman. She’s got phony tits for fuck’s sake.”
“Well, why’d you marry her then?”
“Because I fucked up, that’s why.”
“Uh-huh. So what are you saying? Find the fountain of youth and stay young forever?”
“No, no, no, no, no. I’m not trying to tell you that growing up is terrible. What I’m trying to tell you is to not be in a hurry for it to happen. But when it does happen – and it will happen, even if right now you don’t think it ever will – make sure you have your priorities straight. Everyone is caught up in the bullshit. Everyone wants the fancy cars, the big house and the beautiful wife with the massive tits. I’m just trying to give you the heads-up that I never got. Don’t be fooled by the bullshit. Those things might look good, but they’re not the things that will make you happy.”
“So, does that answer your question? Was I being sarcastic? No I wasn’t. Right now you should enjoy the time you have working with your father. Right now you should be having some fun with your friends, getting fucked up and seeing the world. So then, when it finally comes time for you to grow up and start a family, you won’t have any regrets. Unless of course, you’re fooled by the bullshit, figure that image is the most important thing in the world and decide to marry a woman based on the size of her chest.”
“Well, I’m sorry to hear about your wife man.”
“Don’t be. It was my mistake. Just do yourself a favor and don’t marry someone you know you’ll never love.”
I turned away from the man and again stared at the back of the seat in front of me. The last thing I expected when getting on that flight to Hong Kong was to have bombs like that dropped on me while nursing such a brutal hangover. It wasn’t a bad thing, it was just a lot for me to process with such a throbbing headache and foggy-ass mind. The more and more I sat there thinking about it, I really began to like what he’d said. But at the same time, I also couldn’t help but think that even if I was a superficial douche that wanted a prestigious well-paying job so I could get the cars, the money and the wife with the fake tits, I’m not the type of person that those types of employers like to hire. I mean, after all, I’m the only person I know who’s made it all the way to the gate of their departure and still managed to miss their flight because of their propensity for substance abuse.
To highlight just how irresponsible, ridiculous and unemployable I actually am, I’d like to tell you about what happened to me – rather, what I’d done to myself – the last time I was home in Chicago and decided to go out drinking with friends. To make a long story short and avoid all the painful little details – few of which I remember anyway – I began the evening with a personal bottle of vodka at my buddy The Hoff’s place down in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. Then once out at the bars, I switched over to beer but since the bars had been so crowded and I don’t have a nice pair of tits that catches the bartender’s attention and draws them over, I’d order two at a time whenever the gracious, tip-demanding distributors were kind enough to bless a random-ass dude like me with their service. As the evening unfolded, I kept up the double-fisting trend until I blacked out for a good seven or eight hours. When I came to, it’d been about eight in the morning. I’d found myself in the backseat of a car with pants pissed and The Hoff shaking me.
“Dude,” he said. “I don’t know how you ended up in this car but I don’t know whose it is and you gotta get out of it right now.”
I had no idea what was going on.
I looked around and tried to put the pieces together. From the looks of the way the upholstery near my nether region had been as soaked as the crotch of my pants, it must’ve been a lot of piss that I’d let out in my sleep. I didn’t recognize the interior of the car which led me to believe that I’d walked up and down the block the night before, testing random door handles until I’d found one that’d been unlocked and decided to make it my bed/toilet for a few hours.
Since I’d fucked up the interior so bad with my piss, I figured The Hoff was probably right and I should get out of there ASAP to avoid any confrontation with the owner. After stumbling out of the car with my buddy’s assistance, I took one step and fell to the ground. I was still far too wasted to do anything but lay there on the lawn.
“Yo,” The Hoff said, “my apartment’s like two houses down. You can take a nap up there.”
I mumbled something inaudible and passed out once again.
Probably close to three hours later, I recall some dude shaking my shoulder while his wife or girlfriend stood about five feet back on the sidewalk saying, “Is he even breathing? Should I call an ambulance?”
I lifted my head off the ground to try and look at them but everything was blurry.
“Leave me alone,” I grumbled. “I’m camping.”
Once having heard me speak – even if what I said didn’t make a whole lot of sense – and getting some sort of confirmation that my untimely death wouldn’t be on their consciences, they walked away and I fell back asleep.
Sometime later in the day, once the light of the sun had dried the piss on my crotch, I was able to get up on my own terms and found my way back home where I ended up sleeping for an additional twenty hours.
Although it may be hard for you to believe that there’re other people out there as asinine as myself, I’m not one of a kind. Most of my friends – at least once upon a time – had behaved the same way. Unlike me however with my Peter Pan syndrome, my world travelling and my blackout drunkenness that I’m unwilling to give up, the majority of my buddies have chosen to make that giant leap from childhood to manhood. Although all successful in the end, whereas some were able to make the transition to the real world of grown-up responsibilities without a hitch, others weren’t. Naturally, I wanna tell you a bit about the latter.
During the summer after finishing college, my buddy Buster had applied for some sort of government job as a social worker. Since people they hire for those sorts of positions will be responsible for the lives and well-being of other living, breathing, shitting human beings, there’d been a strict process each candidate had to go through so the agency could decide whether or not each potential employee was capable of taking care of all those other needful people in addition to themselves. After submitting resumes, taking tests and going through several interviews to determine that you’re qualified and if they do indeed decide that you are qualified, they will then inform you that you will be followed around for the next month at any given time by private eyes to make sure you’re not into any shady shit before they say, “You’re hired.”
As it happens, Buster had done well on the tests and the people at the agency had liked his resume. After passing the interview, they gave him the whole private eye spiel and sent him on his way. Basically, all’s he had to do was keep a low profile for one month and the job was his. According to my friend Bill, Buster was able to stay away from his cohorts and behave himself for about two weeks before relapsing.
“Yeah so, I guess Buster got a call this week saying he didn’t get the job,” Bill told me. “On Friday night he and Sweeney decided to take ecstasy, buy a case of beer and then hop a fence into the cemetery where they got shitfaced on some random graves all night long which, in my opinion, isn’t too abnormal for those guys.
“Then the next night, I picked those two dudes up in my car. We weren’t drinking or anything like that but, uh, do you know how they’re selling those fifty-cent soft-serve ice cream cones right now over at Burger King?”
“Okay. Well, so we drove over to the BK on Dempster and pooled our money together and bought like fifty dollars-worth of those ice cream cones and then quickly drove over to Brooks Park with them before they melted. After I parked the car, Buster and Sweeney got completely naked on the baseball field and stood next to each other behind home plate while I took all the cones about halfway to the pitcher’s mound and threw every last one of ‘em at their naked bodies.”
“Oh my god. That’s ridiculous. Do you think either of these incidents had anything to do with Buster not getting the job?”
“We don’t know for sure because the agency doesn’t report back to you what the private eye had seen you doing but yeah, we have our suspicions.”
Even though my friends had at one point all been degenerates to some degree, most had shaped up before landing positions at reputable organizations. A rare few however, managed to get hired while maintaining personal lives as disastrous as the ones they’d lived in college. Although separation of personal and professional lives is a principle that absolutely must be adhered to in order to carry on this way, the former sometimes spills over into the latter, most notably at work-related social gatherings.
I’ve known my buddy The Hoff since I was ten years old. Practically, he’s a very intelligent hard-working dude that will always get the job done but during his free time, the guy loves to party his face off. In college, whether it was staying up drinking from Friday afternoon straight through to Sunday night, breaking his hands beating up random kids he didn’t recognize in his house or getting into a packed-full student transport cab after having diarrhea’d the shit out of his pants while walking halfway home from a bar, The Hoff partied hardier than anyone I know and still managed to pull grades better than most while earning a degree in civil engineering up at MU in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Following graduation The Hoff managed to lock down a really sweet job at a firm in a high-rise office somewhere in the concrete jungle of downtown Chicago. About four or five months into his employment, the company had been hosting an Oktoberfest party after work one Friday where, as Jim Carrey had said in Dumb and Dumber, “the beer flowed like wine.” Even though he decided to treat it like it had been, the beer they’d been serving wasn’t none o’ that pussy-ass Miller Lite stuff The Hoff had been used to putting in his body. What they served instead were thick potent-ass German beers that demanded respect. Like many other great men who’d fallen before him, The Hoff ignored the ABV and proceeded to pound glass after glass as if he were immune to the intoxicating effects of the dunkel.
“So, we were sitting in the meeting room,” he told me. “We got one of those long tables in there with a whole bunch of chairs where a lot of my coworkers had been sitting, talking and drinking beers. At the time I was sitting next to my boss and I was fuckin’ wasted. Like, really fucked-up. I had no idea what was going on around me and wasn’t saying much of anything to anyone.
“At some point I’m texting someone on the new iPhone that Christina had just gotten me and this one dude I work with who’s a little older than us and a bit of a douche decides to start fuckin’ with me.
“He said somethin’ like, ‘Hey Hoff, who you texting, your girrrrrrrrrrrlfriend?’ And I don’t know, I say something back like, ‘No, I’m texting yours,’ then set my phone back down on the table, take a huge slug of my beer and resume being incoherent. While I was spacing out, I heard my text go off but before I could pick it up, my boss reached over and snatched my phone off the table. So I quickly reach out and grab this guy by the wrist with both hands. He doesn’t wanna let go of my phone. He’s determined to keep the joke going.”
“How old is this guy?” I asked.
“Little over forty.”
“Since he doesn’t wanna gimme back my shit, I then stand up with my hands still clenched around his wrist and turn my back to the guy like this,” he acted out the situation. “I then stepped forward and pulled the boss out of his seat onto the ground where he was now on his knees. This is when I was forcefully able to rip it out of his hands.”
“Jesus,” I laughed.
“Yeah, right? But that’s not the end of it. My boss is a pretty athletic dude and I guess he took offense to being manhandled like that. So he jumps up off the ground and squares off with me. We charge at each other like a pair of sumo wrestlers and end up pullin’ each other to the ground and start fuckin’ rollin’ around the floor in the middle of this office party.
“Everyone around us was appalled. A lot of the people I work with – a lot of engineers in general – are nerds, ya know? These guy don’t come in on Monday morning talking about how fucked up they were on Friday and Saturday or all the sweet pussy they got, these guys come in and compare the functions of the new calculators they obtained over the weekend. They’re not used to seein’ shit like that go down in front of ‘em.”
“So what happened?”
“Well, after all the rumbling and tumbling, I did like I would’ve in college, went into the fridge and grabbed as many beers as I could carry before ditching the party. And I’m walking around downtown, drinking these beers and completely black out soon after, forgetting all about the Oktoberfest party in the process. But then the next morning I wake up in my bed at home and my shoulder’s all fucked up and I have no idea why.
“I go to check my text messages to see if I can find any clues as to why I felt as shitty as I did and the fuckin’ screen on my brand new iPhone is cracked. Now I’m super curious to find out what happened the night before. I open up my inbox and find a message from my boss saying, ‘I hope you made it home okay.’
“Then it all came rushing back to me. I’m layin’ there like, ‘Oh shit, I can’t believe that all that shit actually happened last night.’”
“Yeah, I know that feeling,” I laughed. “So, you get in trouble at all?”
“Well, I didn’t respond to the text because I didn’t wanna deal with it, ya know. I spent the whole weekend dreading going into work on Monday. But when the time came and I headed into the office, nothing was immediately mentioned about the Oktoberfest party. It was just business as usual. I was sittin’ there trying to concentrate on my work but I couldn’t really get anything done. I was feelin’ like, ‘This incident can’t go unaddressed,’ ya know? Shit like that can’t happen in an office without it at the very least being talked about.
“Well, sometime after lunch the boss called me over.
“‘Alright party boy,’ he said, waving me hither, ‘let’s have a chat in my office.’
“So I go over there and take a seat across from him at his desk and it turns out he’s a pretty cool dude and was willing to forget the whole thing ever happened.
“‘You see, I don’t mind,’ he said to me. ‘What happened doesn’t really bother me. You work hard during the week then you had a few too many at the party. It happens. I’ve been there. I know what’s up. But the thing you gotta realize around here,’ he pointed over towards the office, ‘is that you’re workin’ with people who’ve never drank like that and maybe have never even seen other people drink like that in their entire lives. I don’t care what you do outside the office but some people find that sort of behavior unacceptable and you can’t be acting like that around here. You understand what I’m saying?’
“‘Yeah, yeah,’ I said. ‘I understand and I apologize and I’ll never let it happen again.’
“‘Good,’ he said. ‘Now go get back to work. That’s all I gotta say about our little wresting match at the Oktoberfest party.’”