Starting a new job is like mowing the lawn for the first time as a kid. You feel awesome, you feel powerful, you are doing something and that something is getting done. “Look at me! I’m pushing around a big ass machine that makes all kinds of noise and it could chop my hand off if I’m not careful!”

Mowing the lawn the next weekend? Whoopdie doo. I’d rather watch cartoons all day. Same machine, same noise, same hand chopping-off capability, but now its work.

Work is for chumps.

For now though, I’m still on day one. I’ve been out of work for months now, and it just feels good to put on a suit and go somewhere important. I’m going to work! I’m going to do something today!

****

It was 7:58 am on Monday as I pushed open the doors to the DDUM office on the 7th floor. Pacing frantically back and forth was Jeff Houghton, my boss. Before I could say anything, he caught my eyes and turned towards me. He was sweating through his shirt, and he looked hung over. This can’t be good I thought, he’s freaking out about all the backlash from the Massacre at the Circle, just two days ago. Today is going to be fucking crazy, said my brain.

“Dingle! Good, you’re here.” He said, and smiled. I worry when people smile at me.

“Yessir, things must be hectic right now with everything, what can I do?”

“Hectic? Not really,” he replied, “But I’m going to have to put you in a situation right now, I hope you don’t mind.”

Perplexed as to how things WEREN’T hectic, I stumbled, “Uh, um, yeah, sure, whatever you need me to do.” My face probably looked like a Picasso.

“Great,” said Houghton, “your section chief, Jim Benton, called out sick today, and he has a meeting with the Mayor in 15 minutes. I need you to take his place.”

“Yes, sure, no problem, but er…shouldn’t someone more senior go – like, um…you?”

“Yeah, well, I have a dentist appointment at 10, and I really can’t afford to reschedule it, my crowns have been killing me lately. Oh don’t worry about it Dingle, it’s nothing you can’t handle!”

Jesus, “nothing I can’t handle?” I’m going to meet the Mayor? Am I the only one who knows this is my first day of work? DC is overrun with Zombies as far as I can tell, and I’M the one meeting with the Mayor?

What do I do? What do I say? What is this meeting even about?!?!?!?! In case you were wondering, this was the point that I peed myself. Just a little. But yes, it happened. Don’t act so surprised.

Jeff handed me a sticky note with a room number on it and a folder with a stack of papers in it.

OK, breath. Look at crotch – no pee visible. Perfect.

Eleventh floor. Conf. Rm. 1107.

Got it. I looked at my watch – 8:11. Fuck, I gotta get up there. As I rushed out of the office, Jeff yelled after me, “don’t worry about it Dingle, you’ll be fine! It’s nothing you can’t just wing…”

This is the true definition of horror. The world is coming to an end. And I, Robert J. Dingle, am the one at the helm. I’m the one they send to meet with the Mayor. Me.

We’re all fucked.

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