I straighten my tie and gel my hair slightly to the left. My beard is kept, and the Old Spice that I sprayed on my neck stings. I've never been more ready for a day in the office. Then again, I felt the same way yesterday and the day before that. But today will be extra good, mark my words, because it's Gary's birthday, you see, and Monique said she would be bringing cake.
As is office tradition, we're all supposed to bring a tribute to the festivities. I decided on sushi.
The platter sits on my well-pressed pants as I ride the subway. My stomach growls, because as per usual, I forgot to eat breakfast. Well, chose not to. I lift the lid off the sushi platter and begin scoffing down the bite-sized pieces. Flakes of tuna drop between the seats, and I flick them from my seat, and onto the child that sits in front of me. They begin to scream.
I sigh, loudly.
By the time the train arrives at my station, the sushi platter is empty. As I exit, I make a point to catch the eyes of the other passengers, and shake my head as if to say 'kids, ammiright?' They smile back at me. I stuff the sushi platter into an already overflowing bin and brush spots of rice from my pants.
Time to work.
As I ascend the stairs I make a dramatic show of holding my head. It's what I like to call my, 'whoops! I forgot the sushi!' pose. I'd practiced it last night in front of the mirror. Monique, who had most definitely not forgotten her cake, merely shakes her head at me and smiles. I feel a rush of pride at my newly tested capabilities.
I pull out my notebook, and next to the dot-point that reads 'weaponized incompetence' I leave a big green checkmark.
Gary's lunch party goes off without a hitch. Everyone else has remembered their share, so there's plenty of food for grazing. On top of that, I manage to garner some sympathetic 'ohs' and 'aws' as I recited my story. "I don't even know what I'm going to do with all that sushi," I lament. I tell it three times.
Gary pulls out a beer. He doesn't usually drink on the job, but as he said, today was a special occasion. "The wife won't be happy," he says as he takes a chug.
"Women," I intone, "can't live with them, can't live without them!"
The joke is met with raucous laughter.
"Alright, alright, everyone settle down."
The boss herds us out of the kitchen, and our revelries for the day are brought to an end. I zip my lips, and spend the rest of the day with my head down and tail up. I have a report to finish and a number of pressing errands that I need to complete by five.
I pull out my to-do list. Number one...
"Monique!" I stalk across the office in a half-run, then plant myself in Monique's cubicle. "Thanks again," I say, "for today." She quirks her head to the side, so I repeat the 'whoops, I forgot the sushi!' pose as a way of explanation. That elicits a laugh. "Anyway," I continue, "if you ever wanted to get a drink sometime after work..."
She purses her lips, "you know that I'm married..."
My attention shifts as a man in a two-piece suit exits his cubicle. Upon seeing me, his eyes light up, "my man!"
"My mãaan," I echo back. As we pass each other we depict our delight by clapping each other on the back. Classic Steve. I turn over my shoulder, and shoot a finger gun at Monique, "you let me know, okay?"
Before she has the chance to reply I saunter to the lunch room. The fridge is filled with leftovers; cake, a jelly cup, and a tasty-looking salad sandwich wrapped in cling film. I take it from the fridge and bite.
"Hey man -" Derek stands in the doorway. "Dude, you're eating the clingwrap!" I keep chewing, "... wait a minute... is that my sandwich?" I swallow the rest of the sandwich whole and breeze past Derek as I lick my fingers.
Without meeting his glare, I clap him on the back, "don't sweat the small stuff, Champ."
When I sit back down I allow myself a moment's reprieve from my hard work. I take out my notebook, tick off a number of 'to-do's', then at the bottom, write "don't sweat the small stuff, Champ." It will make a good title for a podcast... I wonder if Steve will join me.
The clock hits five.
I continue to peck away at my keyboard, and as my colleagues trickle out I see each of them off with a 'this work's not going to finish itself' nod to my computer. At five past, I finally decide to bring it in.
The first thing I do when I reach home is kick off my loafers. Then, I heat my dinner and stare blankly at the wall as it spins in the microwave. I enjoy the meal with a side of red wine, and I load a video from my recommended page, 'dealing with imposter syndrome.' I can feel myself getting smarter as I watch it, and I grunt my approval as I finish the last of the packaging from the t.v. dinner.
With great relief, I unbutton my suit and stretch. My bloated stomach relaxes, but as I'm walking to the bathroom I remember; there's always room for dessert. By the time I enter the bathroom, my suit is half off and already in my mouth. I'll have to buy a new one... again.
Oh well, what can you do?
I pluck the buttons from the suit, preferring just the fabric on its own, and in celebration of another successful day undetected, shoot my finger guns at the mirror and release a 'baaa.'
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