Temporary Insanity #1

You've been temping on and off for six years. You've seen the rise and fall of the Wang Computer Company. You've seen the advent of Windows and the death of the telex. Your first version of Microsoft Word was 2.0. You've seen networks installed and passwords close their doors. You trashed files before Norton was around to save your ass. You know the difference between imbedding, linking and subscribing. For every action performed with a mouse, you know the key combination. There is no copy, fax, or coffee machine you can't work. Your Tetris scores average 22,000, you can solve the expert level Minesweeper in under 2 minutes and are seriously considering a trip to Vegas based on your recent rounds of computer Solitaire. In short, you know it all.Your moods over the course of a work day are predictable. There is your early morning general negativity permeated by a distinct disgust with a multitude of things ranging from Humanity At Large to marble flooring. In the morning you always feel a complete and total separation from your fellow workers. At no other time during the day do you feel like such an outsider. The feeling of being an outsider is not alienating but welcomed and relished. Even the briefest thought that you might have something in common with the permanent secretaries makes you queasy and short of breath.This arrogance naturally wears off as the day continues.You arrive at an office around 8 or 8:30. You are usually given work to do around 9:30. This manages to entertain you until 10:30 or 11. It's not that the work takes so long in and of itself, just that you usually manage to find new ways to accomplish the same old task at hand. You do so, not from any sense of educational self-improvement, but simply because you find it entertaining. The unfortunate, or ironic, side effect of this practice is that, after all these years, most every task (excluding the hell of data entry) takes less than fifteen minutes and you have found yourself with increasing amounts of free time. While other secretaries struggle with two page memos, you sit. And I do mean sit. Contrary to popular belief, you are not allowed to read, make phone calls, or do your nails.In any case, from 11:00 or so onward, until lunch, you experience a supreme and all-consuming boredom. It is so boring that you want to kill yourself. You want to stand on top of your desk and scream and jump up and down and tear out your hair and tear off your clothes. Sometimes the urge to simply scream out random obscenities is so powerful, it makes you worry about your sanity. You begin truly to feel the power of a desire. Physical desires are never this overwhelming. Sure, you've been driven wild by lust; who hasn't? But to be driven wild by unmitigated wildness itself is something not to be scoffed at. The pure power of the mind is simultaneously in your face and out of your control. You begin to empathize with schizophrenics and appreciate how fragile the boundaries between sanity and insanity really are. You ponder the very definition of sanity. Your brain, with nearly every single one of its billions of cells freed up by the utterly imbecilic nature of your job, begins to churn faster and faster. One millisecond you experience a mind-wrenching disgust as you, involuntarily, imagine the guy from three offices down, naked and pawing at you. Fear overwhelms this disgust as the image of a nuclear disaster wiping out everyone in the world except the people in your building grips your mind. The next millisecond, you plot your bloody, sadistic revenge on whoever it was that invented the florescent light, the computer screen, the phone, the keypad that has given you carpal tunnel syndrome, the smoky window glass that will not let in enough light; the chair's clever designer, and the genius who put ridges on the pencil.And just as your brain sends out the order for your legs to life you out of the nubby, gray upholstered chair, and for your lungs to suck in a gigantic gasp of filtered air and spew it out again with every obscenity known and imagined, your body acts of its own accord - and proceeds, calmly and orderly, and with a dignity and reserve unbefitting your thoughts and desires, towards the Coffee Room.Here, your body - and I cannot emphasize strongly enough that your mind is having absolutely no part of this little snack foray - pours a cup of coffee.Your brain is reeling from this rebellion. In less than a half an hour, you came in contact not only with the dark side of your mind which has the power to think whatever the hell it wants while any pathetically weak morality you have is unceremoniously shoved aside; you have also confronted the fact that your mind may have no control whatsoever. While the vast potential power of your mind reared its head and declared I WILL NOT STAND IT ANYMORE, and the small portion of you assigned to making sure that at least some of society's norms are adhered to, is desperately screaming at this Child-Neanderthal-Snake-Murderer-Beast portion of your brain, your body just takes over. And, boy-oh-boy, does that put everybody in place. Your body is simply going to get a cup of coffee and you thought that you were really going to lose control. It's not just that you are losing grip on Who You Are, but you're beginning to realize what a fragile agreement a personality really is. The ego, contrary to everything you were raised to believe, is not the strongest component of the mind, merely the one wimp which the rest of the personality can agree upon to be in charge.But, before this realization has any time to sink in, you have to go to lunch. If it's winter, you sit inside; if it's summer, you sit outside. That's about all there is to lunch. You never eat - it's too mundane and plus it makes you tired. All you do is read. You read anything at all, but preferably something inspirational. Inspiring thought is essential when you're virtually brain dead from your job and mentally exhausted from the struggle over your sanity. Refreshed and uplifted, you return to work; once again aware of the Outside. Aware of possibilities and the future. You have a renewed faith in the quality of humankind. You begin to think that maybe the MBAs will not take over the world. Art and poetry and love might still flourish.The severity with which these hopes are dashed is astounding. In the afternoon, there is no longer the struggle for your sanity, because your mind is too worn down to put up a fight. There is nothing to fight for because stupidity and florescent lights have once again begun to replace the very fibers of your spirit. The world is nothing more than an illogical combination of menial tasks, incomprehensible restrictions, and sitting. From this point onward until 5:00 you engage in the challenging pastime of stacking paper clips on top of each other while avoiding eye contact with passers by. Next Up: The how, the why, and the true nature of organized things or whence stems the primal desire to create and impose structure

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