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Boarding the elevator to the 37th floor, I was deeply engrossed in thinking about the various nuances of my pain. As I absently took a stick of gum from the Plen-T-Pak in my pocket and popped it in my mouth, I came to a conclusion: lately some of my co-workers hadn't been taking my pain seriously enough for my liking. I knew the pattern well. Compassionate at first, people lose eventually tolerance for your pain until they finally became sullen and resentful every time you confront them with it. In the last few days my colleagues had positively resisted my efforts to convey the duration, intensity and breadth of my pain to them. How? With various ploys and gambits transparently designed to minimize the seriousness of my pain, that's how. Some made jokes belittling my pain. Others found ways to subtly suggest that I intentionally sought out and nursed my pain as a badge of honor and means of coercing sympathy and attention from those around me. Then there were those who tried to imply that their own pain was somehow analogous or similar in scope to mine. Something had to be done.
I limped into my 37th floor office, eyes brimming with tears. "I can't believe it," I moaned, shaking my head helplessly. To my surprise, no one responded or met my eye. On the contrary, everyone within visual range suddenly became deeply engrossed in their books, phone conversations, computer screens, etc. I had to suppress a laugh. They thought this was going to defeat me?
I spat my used gum into its wrapper and went to deposit it in a trash can under an empty cubicle. As I bent down I cried out in agony as my back "seized up". Dropping to my knees, I emitted a series of high-pitched keening noises. At the same moment this was unfolding, however, somebody turned the jazz-lite FM station on at a high volume, almost as if in anticipation of this move. The muzak piping into the office didn't exactly drown out the sounds I was making, but it at least made it plausible for everyone to pretend not to hear me. OK, big whoop. To me this was child's play.
Without missing a beat, I changed my keening into retching and puked up some blood. Next I let out a vile gurgling noise and crumpled to the floor. The next 30 seconds were spent in a fetal position, eyes tightly clenched shut. At last I opened them. Nothing. My pain was still not being acknowledged. What was going on here? Now I was livid. Well, since they'd left me with no choice, it looked like I was gonna have to get olfactory on them. Straining with concentration and mopping my brow with a handkerchief, I pinched a sizable turd out into my pants and proceeded to pass out briefly in my own blood and filth. Checkmate! As the room grew dim, I looked forward to the drama that would soon ensue...
But the crafty buggers were prepared for this too, it seemed. No crowd of concerned onlookers stood around me with expressions of alarm as I drifted back into consciousness. No one was paying me any attention at all, in fact. I understood when an appetizing aroma entered my nostrils: they'd timed it so the lunch delivery guy would arrive when I threw my faint. Result: the odors of my vomit and feces were easily overpowered by the mouth-watering smell of the brick-oven pizzas they'd ordered. I began to cry, for real this time. No one had ever pushed me this far, and it looked like I was going to have to pull out my trump card.
"Not easy being the new guy," I muttered. My voice quavered with self-pity as I headed for the open window.
Date Written: March 10, 2004
Author: Jon Matza
Average Vote: 4.6667