Corporate life means meetings. Lots of meetings. About 75% of your time is spent talking about some product or service that you would create were this some alternate universe where you’ve got an actual work ethic. You discuss all this with a group of people who can’t even understand the product even in its vague theoretical existence. In other words, three quarters of your time is spent on conjecture, passive aggressiveness, infighting, and ideas so bad that it’s lucky your product will never actually come to fruition anyway.
The other 25% of your time is spent on Facebook, posting gramatically atrocious ad hominem political attacks on local news websites, and/or looking at just-barely-safe-for-work pseudo-pornography.
Sometimes the meetings are attended by the very clients who are giving you someone else’s money for the theoretical product you’re pretending to create. In these meetings, you spend most of your time reassuring the client about their terrible investment in your fake product. You use a portion of their money to buy a lot of bagels and some plastic flowers to put in the middle of the oddly sticky conference table to make them feel welcome. Think of it as a mating dance with a mate you don’t actually like. But make no mistake, you will get fucked whether you like it or not.
Over the course of my seven years of meetings, my hope in existence dwindled. I came to look forward to the smallest things in order to keep myself going. Maybe someone would fart during the meeting. Or Bob would say something so racist again that it would bring the meeting to a total standstill. Something. Anything.
Eventually, it was just all about the bagels or whatever other snacks awaited me. I would eat non-stop through the meetings, hoping my totally inconsiderate habit of chewing big hunks of bread with my mouth open would make everyone avert their eyes and pretend I wasn’t there. Then I wouldn’t get a single question. Not unless they wanted me to be still grosser and keep chewing while I answered. “Issh funny yoush should ashk that, Bobfff.”
When I heard there was a meeting that I didn’t have to attend I would spend a fair amount of time pretending to go to the copy machine. Staring intently at a stack of blank copy paper, I’d pass the meeting room in the hopes that they left some of the snacks on an outside table, or took a break just long enough for me to sneak in the room and snag some stale carbs.
Over time I cared less and less about being caught.
A client I disliked with the fire of a thousand suns was coming to the office. They wanted me to attend a meeting about some aspect of our terrible product that I didn’t even have anything to do with and had no business being a part of. Even though the project had no chance of succeeding, I took issue with additional fake work that was outside the scope of my already fake job. “Sorry,” I told them, “I have another meeting. I’ll try to attend the second half of the four hour meeting if possible.”
For some reason, my manager also kept IMming me over the course of the meeting, asking when I would be attending. I kept sending him non-sequitur emojis in response. “Is your other meeting done yet? We could use your help in here,” he’d type. I responded with a emoji that consisted of Chewbacca doing an MC Hammer dance.
All the while, I still pretended to go to the copier so that I could get some snacks. When I got to the outside of the meeting room, I was met with a veritable smorgasbord of what passes for food in an office. Bagels, donuts, coffee, soda, cookies, brownies, bananas, yogurt, potato chips, and more. I took two of everything. Just as I got my arms as full as they could get, the meeting doors opened and around 10 or so people — all of whom I’d told that I couldn’t attend — stepped out.
They stared at me with my arms full of food. I stared back. Then I narrowed my eyes. I reached for a packaged Little Debbie cupcake. I unwrapped it slowly, never looking away from them. I alternated eye contact with each and every one of them. Some of them continued to stare, looking stunned and stupid. Others looked away uncomfortably. Fully unwrapped, I brought the cupcake to my lips and opened as wide as I could.
I shoved the entire thing into my mouth, chewing like a cow. My eyes darting back and forth until all others had turned away. And only then did I myself turn and walk back to my desk.
I ate every single crumb of that food garbage while catching up on the YouTube videos in my queue. My manager came by just as my pupils were dilating from all the sugar. A half eaten bagel poked from the corner of my mouth as I turned around.
“Um. Hi. Yeah. Got a second? We need to talk about… earlier.”
My eyelid twitched crazily. I chewed. I stood. I took the bagel from my mouth and poked him in the chest with it, narrowing my eyes again. Then I dropped it on the floor like a mic and raised my hands in the air touchdown-style.
And I left.