Embarrassed Out Of Work
EMBARRASSED INTO ENLIGHTENMENT

"EMBARRASSED OUT OF WORK"


By
Jared Six


A series of embarrassing jobs causes a young man to lose interest in the "American Dream" of owning a big house, a fancy car, and lots of material possessions, and instead start to dream of someday leaving America, and living a much simpler life as a "minimalist".



1.
"THE DRUG TEST"


Once I turned 18, the time had come for me to find a job so that I could move out of my parent's house and become "independent", so I did some "job hunting" and found out that there was a new mall that was going to be opening soon, and they were going to be having a big "job fair" where anyone who was interested in working there could show up and apply for a job, so I decided to go to it.

About 100 other people showed up to the "job fair" looking for a job at the mall, and although I was usually really nervous around people, I was actually handling the situation surprisingly well until they announced that everyone would be required to take a drug test before they left by peeing into a cup!

As soon as they announced the drug test, several people stood up and walked out because they knew there was no way that they would pass the test, and I almost got up and walked out too... But not because I was on drugs (I had never taken a drug in my life) but rather, because I have "bladder shyness" and I was afraid that I would have trouble peeing into a cup!

When it was time to do the drug testing, they had us all go into a big room with a small bathroom attached to it, and one-by-one they started calling everyone's name.

Once someone's name got called, they would have to walk up to the bathroom where a large man who was wearing a shirt that said "SECURITY" on it was standing in-front of the bathroom, and he would hand them a cup with their name on it, then they would go into the bathroom, pee in the cup, and come back out and give it back to him.

Everyone else was doing it with seemingly no problem whatsoever, but once it was my turn and I got in the bathroom with the cup, I just couldn't do it!

I tried and tried, but it was simply too difficult for me to pee on command when I knew that there were a bunch of people right outside the door who were all waiting for me to finish.

The thought of going back out there with an empty cup was terrifying to me, so I resorted to every trick that I could think of to make myself pee...

- I tried turning on the sink to mimic the sound of urination.

- I tried closing my eyes and imagining a waterfall.

- I tried putting my free hand just below my belly button and finger drumming over my bladder while humming the theme of "Also sprach Zarathustra" so that my urine would have some epic theme music to come out to. ("Elvis Presley" and the wrestler "Ric Flair" used it as their theme song as well.)

But none of this was helping, so I then tried putting my hand in the sink and running some warm water over it, and after several minutes of feeling the warm water on my hand, I actually started to pee...

I was so "relieved" that I was able to do it and that I wasn't going to have to go back out there and tell everyone that I "couldn't go", but then just as the cup was almost full there was a sudden and loud knock at the door which startled me so bad that I dropped the cup and spilled it on the floor.

Then the big man with the "SECURITY" shirt behind the door yelled...

"ARE YOU OK IN THERE BUDDY???"

So I nervously shouted back to him...

"Ugh............ Yeah..........."

I then heard the sound of several of the people outside the door giggling about it, and I even heard some of them imitating the way that I said, "Ugh............ Yeah..........."

I quickly bent down to pick up the cup, and I tried my best to pee again, but at that point I was so incredibly tense that I just couldn't do it.

And then to make matters worse, I suddenly realized that the lid that had came with the cup was now missing.

I couldn't remember if I had set the lid down somewhere or if I was holding it and had dropped it when the man pounded on the door and startled me, but I started franticly looking around and couldn't find it anywhere!

* The lid was actually in my pocket, but just like a man who is late for work and can't find his car keys even though they are in his pocket, my short term was severely impaired due to how much stress I was going through in that moment.

I didn't want to go back out there without a lid because I imagined that the big man at the door would be really upset about it (or at the very least really confused) and that he would yell, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU LOST THE LID???" in front of everyone, and that not only would everyone laugh at me about it, but that the people who were doing the actual hiring would be think to themselves, "We better not hire that one guy who lost the lid to his urine test cup."

The thought of going back out there with an empty cup AND without the lid was mortifying, and to make matters worse, I then started to hear all of the people outside the door talking about me, and they were saying things like...

"What's taking this guy so long?"

"He's been in there forever!"

"What the hell is he doing in there???"

And then I heard a woman (who judging by her gravelly voice was middle aged and smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day) say, "Any man who needs this much time to pee in a cup can't find the little guy!" which made EVERYONE outside the door burst out laughing into riotous laughter, and I felt so embarrassed and "insecure" about what she said that I instinctively looked down between my legs, and when I did I realized that when I had dropped the cup of urine, some of it spilled on my pants, so it looked like I peed my pants!

Then the man started pounding on the door again, but at that point I was so "immobilized" with embarrassment that I couldn't speak. So he started pounding louder and louder, and all I could do was just get down on my hands and knees, crawl under the sink, and put my hands over my head like they teach you to do at school during a "tornado drill", and I just tried to take comfort in the words of wisdom that "No Storm Lasts Forever".

Because I was non-responsive, they ended up calling 911, and the police had to come and take the door down just to get me out of there!

Needless to say, I didn't get hired, and it was such a humiliating experience that I figured there was no sense in me even looking for another job, because it seemed that every required a drug test at the time, so it seemed as though I was doomed to have to live with my parents forever.

But then a few years later a cousin of mine named "Paul" suddenly showed up at my parent's house looking for me, and he told me that he needed me to help him pass a drug test.

I didn't understand what he meant, so he explained to me that he was applying for a job, but that he smoked marijuana regularly, and that he just needed some of my "clean urine" to pass the drug test.

He then showed me a special bag that he had purchased which allows you to cheat on a drug test.

The way the bag worked was that you would fill it up with the urine of someone who didn't do any drugs, and then you would hide the bag under your clothing. The bag also had a small emptying tube that could be pulled out through the zipper of your pants and conveniently poured into a cup during a drug test.

So I let him have some of my urine, and he passed his drug test with it, and in exchange, he let me borrow the device so that I could hide some of my own "clean urine" under my clothing and pass a drug test too, and I was able to get a job at "Walmart" using the device.

* I might be the only person in history who has ever used their own urine to cheat on a drug test, but I have "bladder shyness" and I just couldn't pass a urine test unless I peed at home first and then snuck it to the test under my clothes!



2.
"WALMART"


THE WORLD OF THE 100,000 THINGS

The first job that I ever had was stocking shelves at a "Walmart". And it was one of the "Super Center" versions of "Walmarts" which sold over 100,000 different items.

But when I first started working there, I of course didn't know where every one of the 100,000 different items were located. Plus, I was extremely shy and nervous around people, so I feared customers coming up to me and asking me where random things were located.

Sometimes a customer would ask me something easy like, "Where are the TVs at?" and I would confidently tell them "Aisle 54", but then a few minutes later I would suddenly realize that I was wrong, and that the TVs were actually in aisle 17, and that I had accidentally sent the customer in the completely wrong direction. Then I would start to worry that the customer might be really mad at me about it, and that they might even be on their way back to confront me over it, so I would run to the employee bathroom and hide in a stall for half an hour just to avoid running into that customer again.

* I want to make it clear though that I wasn't "stealing time" whenever I would hide from customers in the bathroom at work, because I was supposed to be given two 15-minute breaks every day, but the managers would purposely make me work through both of them, so as long as I didn't spend more than 30 minutes a day hiding from customers in the bathroom (or as long as I didn't average more than two and a half hours per week or 130 hours per year doing it) I didn't feel that I was doing anything unethical.

MONKEYS ON TYPEWRITERS TYPING SHAKESPEARE

Working at "Walmart" wasn't all bad, and I actually managed to have a lot of fun and even do some pranks during my time working there.

For example, because I was constantly getting asked where random items were located, I drew a really detailed map of the store and I put a big red "X" right where the blow driers were located, then I put the map in my back pocket and brought it to work with me every single day until after about 5 months of always having it in my back pocket, a man came up to me and said, "Excuse me young man, but can you tell me where the blow driers are located?"

I quickly reached into my back pocket, pulled out the map, and then I handed it to him and walked away without saying a word...

About 10 minutes later, I was stocking shelves, and I happened to look over my shoulder and see that the man who I had given the map to was staring at me from a distance. He looked so confused, and it was obvious that he was trying to figure out how in the world I just happened to have a map to the blow driers in my pocket. (And why in the world a map like that would even exist in the first place.)

A couple days later he showed up at the store again, and it was obvious that he still wanted to know what was going on, because he walked up to me and nervously said, "Excuse me, but I just wanted to thank you for your help the other day when I couldn't find the blow driers." and then he just stood there silently as if anxiously waiting to see what I would say in response...

I then reached into my back pocket, pulled out another piece of paper, and then I handed it to him and walked away without saying a word...

* I had fully expected him to return, so the paper that I gave him this time was a realistic picture that I drew of him looking really confused and using a blow drier!

I'm guessing that the drawing really freaked him out, because I never saw him in the store again after that.

But several months later, I was at a gas station, and while I was putting gas in my car, a car pulled up to the pump next to me, and it was the customer who had asked me about the blow driers!

As soon as he got out of his car he looked at me and gave me a casual nod and then he started to say "Good morning", but then he suddenly realized that it was me, and a look of terror came over him as if he had just seen a ghost, and he quickly jumped back into his car and sped off!

Because he was a lot bigger than me, it made me realize that I had the power to scare people by messing with their heads.

THE LADDER INCIDENT

The "Walmart" that I worked at was so large, that the top shelves were about 20 feet in the air, and sometimes customers would ask me to get something for them that required a ladder to reach.

However, all of the managers at work had told me that I wasn't allowed to use a ladder due to how nervous and jumpy I was, so if a customer asked me for something that was on a high shelf, I would have to go and find another employee who wasn't busy to actually climb the ladder and get the product.

But one day a very beautiful lady asked me if I could get a kids bicycle for her that was way up on a top shelf (which was 20 feet up in the air) and because of how beautiful she was, I was too embarrassed to tell her that I wasn't allowed to use a ladder, so I decided to just climb up the ladder myself!

I then set up the big ladder and began climing up it. (I was terrified of heights, but I really wanted to impress her, so I just kept climbing and told myself not to look down.)

When I finally made it to the top of the ladder, I grabbed the bicycle that she wanted, but then I heard her yell up to me that she actually wanted the one next to it, so I looked down to ask her if she meant the one on the left or the one on the right, but as soon as I saw just how high up in the air I was I instantly felt my legs go limp and I started to fall backwards so I screamed and quickly wrapped my arms around the ladder, hugging it for dear life!

After several moments of awkward silence, the lady yelled up to me, "Are you OK?" but I was so paralyzed with fear and embarrassment that I literally couldn't move or even respond to her question.

Once the lady realized that I was scared, she felt really bad for me and yelled, "Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry that I had you go up that high... I didn't know that you were afraid of heights." and all I could do was just keep my face buried under my arms in embarrassment...

After what seemed like an eternity, I looked down again and noticed that the woman was gone, so I started to climb back down the ladder, but then she suddenly returned, and this time she had a manager with her named "Mark" who was really mean, and as soon as he saw me on the ladder, he started yelling a bunch of embarrassing things at me, like... "What the hell do you think you're doing on that ladder???"

"I told you that you are never to even touch a ladder!!!"

"You get down from there this instant, or you will be written up!!!"

Because he was yelling at me in front of a beautiful woman, I felt even more immobilized, and because he was yelling so loudly, several other customers started coming to the aisle to see what in the world was going on, and before you knew it there was a large crowd of customers gathered under the ladder looking up at me.

Because I was completely non-responsive, the manager "Mark" pulled out his walkie-talkie and called for security to come to the aisle, and a really big security guard showed up and had to climb up the ladder to try to "talk me down" in front of all the people.

He climbed up the ladder until he was right below me, and he did his best to nicely ask me to come back down, but I just ignored him and just kept my head covered without ever looking at him. So he then reached up and grab my ankle, and it startled me so bad that I instantly (and involuntarilly) kicked my leg back, and I accidentally kicked him right in the head, and it almost caused him to fall off the ladder!

As soon as I realized what I had done I looked down at him and told him that I was sorry, but he was understandably upset at me, and said, "Look man, if you refuse to come down this ladder, then I'm going to have no choice but to call the actual police, and if you make me do that, then I'm going to tell them that you kicked me in the head, which is technically "assault" and you might even have to spend the night in jail over it!"

As soon as he said the part about me going to jail, I felt more scared than I had ever felt in my whole life. And to make matters worse, I then looked down at the beautiful woman who I had tried so hard to impress by climbing up the ladder, and with a frightened expression on her face she turned to another female customer beside her and said, "Oh my God, can you imagine what would happen to that poor boy in jail?"

Then several of the customers (who I'm guessing had been to jail before) started yelling up to me that I had better come back down, because there was no way that a guy like me would survive a night in jail.

I then looked at the security guard with fearful eyes, and because he was so used to dealing with criminals he could "smell fear" like a dog, and he knew exactly what I was thinking, so he looked me in the eyes and said, "If you go to jail the first thing that they'll do is take your "mug shot", then they'll "strip search" you, then you will have to have to take a shower with a bunch of other naked men, and because you are so skinny and are basically the closest thing to a woman that some of them have seen in a really long time..."

I then stopped him and said, "OK, OK, OK, I'LL COME BACK DOWN!!!"

My fear of going to jail was far worse than my fear of heights, so I started climbing back down. (And honestly, because I'm so "camera shy", the thought of having to get my "mug shot" taken alone was already enough intimidation to keep me "scared straight" and out of jail!)

When I finally made it back down the ladder and back to the floor, the crowd of customers all started clapping and cheering over the fact that I wasn't going to have to spend a night in jail, and some of them felt so sorry for me that they demanded that my manager "Mark" not fire me over it (and they even swore to never shop there again if he did) so he reluctantly agreed to let me keep my job.

But honestly, I wished that he had just fired me or that I could just quit, but because I had been working at "Walmart" for a while, I had kind of gotten caught up in "materialism", and I had accumulated a MASSIVE amount of credit card debt due to buying stuff that I couldn't really afford (mostly fancy and expensive things for my apartment that I thought would really impress a girl if I ever got a girlfriend) so I felt "trapped" and unable to leave.



PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE AND PLANNED EMBARRASSMENT

One day I heard a statistic that 99% of the things that are purchased at places like "Walmart" are no longer even being used 6 months after purchasing them!

At first I thought to myself, "That can't be true." but then I looked around my apartment at all of the stuff that I had bought just to impress a girl someday, and it hit me that I had filled my apartment with things from "Walmart" that I had never actually used.

I then learned about something known as "planned obsolescence". (Which is when things are purposely designed to break down or become obsolete shortly after purchasing them, so that people will quickly throw them away and have to purchase newer versions of them.)

I also noticed that I (as well as everyone else in society) was being conditioned to think that it was "embarrassing" to still own things that were old fashioned, and to get rid of old things even if they still work perfectly fine.

For example, new TVs were getting bigger, but new phones were getting smaller. So if you owned a big TV and a small phone, you were "cool", but if you still owned a small TV and a big phone, you should feel really embarrassed about it.

One day I was working in the "Pet Aisle", and I noticed that there were even products that were designed to embarrass people's pets into becoming lifelong consumers.

CATS - "Walmart" sold cat litter boxes that came with a "privacy tent" so that cats could use their litter box without the awkwardness of having their human owners staring at them when they used it, and because I suffered from "bladder shyness", I knew that this would train cats to be like me, and to eventually not be able to go to the bathroom without a lot of privacy.

DOGS - "Walmart" sold clothing for dogs, and because I suffer from "body shyness", I knew that this would train dogs to be like me , and to eventually be too embarrassed to even go outside to bark at the mailman if they didn't have any clothes on.



THE PEOPLE OF WALMART

"Walmart" was notorious for having some really strange and unusual shoppers, and one day I showed up to work and the oddities were out in full force...

Within 5 minutes of starting my shift, I caught a crazy guy who looked like "Charles Manson" stealing peanut butter...

But instead of simply taking a jar of peanut butter and sneaking out of the store without paying for it like a normal shoplifter would, he actually opened a jar of peanut butter, scooped out a big handful of it, and then he stuffed the handful of peanut butter into one of his pants pockets and quickly walked out the store!

I made no attempt to stop him, and I actually thought it was kind of amusing.

A few minutes later, an overweight black man with a big white beard and overalls rode up to me on a motorized handicapped shopping cart. I asked him if I could help him, and he explained to me that one of the rain gutters had fallen off his house, and he wanted to know if I thought a bottle of "Elmer's Glue" would fix it.

I had to laugh about his question, and I was now in one of my super silly moods where everything seemed funny to me.

I then saw an angry old white man walking around the store with a bag of hamburger buns, and as soon as he spotted me in my "Walmart" uniform he walked over to me looking irate. I did my best to keep a straight face as I politely asked him, "Can I help you with something?" and he waved the hamburger buns in my face and shouted, "This is horse shit, and you know it!"

I immediately burst out laughing because he was cussing, which caused all of the other customers around us stopped what they were doing and started looking at me and the old man.

The old man was furious that I was laughing at him, so he started cussing me out in front of everyone, which only made me laugh more, which only made him cuss more, which only made me laugh louder, which only made him cuss louder, etc...

Me and the old man were caught in an intense exchange of polar energies, and it got so powerful that my chest started to hurt from all of the laughter, so I grabbed my chest and fell to the floor. Then the angry old man became so angry that his chest started to hurt from all of his rage, so he grabbed his chest and fell to the floor as well...

As we both laid on the floor about to die (me from laughter and him from a heart attack) I had a "near death experience" and below is a detailed description of what I can remember from it...

MY NEAR-DEATH EMBARRASSMENT

I remember seeing some emergency paramedics running over to help me and the old man, and because I was so uncomfortable about being touched, I stopped laughing and quickly jumped back up to my feet to run away from them, but as soon as I got back up on my feet, I looked down and saw my lifeless body still laying on the ground.

In total confusion, I turned to some customers who were standing right next to me and asked them, "WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?" but they completely ignored me, so I raised my voice, but they still went on acting as if I was completely invisible and wasn't even there, and then it hit me that I must have died and that I must be a spirit.

Normally, this would be the part of a "Near Death Experience" story where the person who died will say that they watched their lifeless body being revived by the paramedics, but the first thing that the paramedics did to my lifeless body was take it's shirt off of it so they could perform CPR, and I felt so embarrassed over the fact that everyone was seeing me with my shirt off, that I took off running to get as far away from my half naked dead body as possible!

I ran out the building, through the parking lot, and down the street out of embarrassment. And because it was "trash day", I noticed that whenever I ran past someone's house there would be a small mountain of merchandise from "Walmart" piled up along the curb of the road so that it could be picked up by the garbage trucks and hauled off to the dump.

The piles of stuff from "Walmart" that people were throwing away seemed to be getting larger and larger, until I encountered a pile that was so big that it was blocking the sidewalk. I didn't want to stop running so I tried to simply jump over the garbage, and not only did I jump over it, but I jumped all the way up to the clouds and I landed all the way on the other side of the world!

I had jumped across multiple time zones, so it was now late at night, and I had no idea where I was. All I knew was that I had landed on a street that had signs which appeared to be written in Chinese, so I figured that I must be in China.

I didn't see any other people around, and none of the houses that I saw had any lights on, so I knew that it must have been really late at night and that everyone must be sleeping. But then I noticed a building with a dim light shining through the windows and a strange mechanical noise coming from inside, so I curiously approached the building, and when I saw that the front door was opened, I walked inside to see what it was...

It was a factory that made cellphones, and there were lots of people working inside. (Including young children who were still in diapers!) But then I then looked more closely and realized that the adult workers were wearing diapers too.

In fact, EVERYONE in the factory was just wearing a diaper and nothing else, and it didn't take long for me to figure out that the reason nobody was wearing a shirt or pants was because of how incredibly hot it was in the building, and the reason everyone was wearing a diaper, was because they were being forced to work extremely long hours and weren't even allowed to take bathroom breaks.

These poor and exploited people had to work in conditions like this just to keep the production of cell phones in China high and cost of cell phones in America low, and because I had "bladder shyness" and "body shyness" I felt a lot of sympathy for these people. (I also felt kind of guilty over the fact that I was actually able to "hide" in the bathroom at work for long periods of time without anyone even noticing my absence.)

But then one of the workers saw me and started pointing at me and shouting something to everyone in Chinese. I didn't speak Chinese, but I sensed that because I was an American and the fact that I was wearing my work shirt which said "WALMART" in big letters and that had a big smiley face underneath it caused these mistreated sweat shop workers see me as the devil himself.

I got scared and ran out of the building, and then all of the workers stopped working and started chasing me down the street.

As they were chasing me, I ran past several other sweatshops that were full of mistreated workers who were being forced to produce cheap products for "Walmart" (and who were also being denied bathroom breaks) and the workers in those buildings also came outside to join the chase, and before you knew it I was being chased by millions of people in diapers.

I knew that I couldn't outrun them all, so I took another giant leap into the sky, and I once again leaped across many time zones (which meant that it was suddenly daylight again) but instead of landing back in America or in some other country, I simply landed in the middle of the ocean!

The ocean where I landed was full of floating plastic garbage, and it was all spinning around like a gigantic whirlpool.

I didn't know how to swim, so I grabbed some empty plastic "Clorox Bleach" bottles that were floating next to me and was able to use them as temporary flotation devices. But the ferocious speed of the spinning "Garbage Patch" was so great, that I eventually lost my grip of the bottles, and just like the countless spiders that I had flushed down the toilet back when I was younger and less compassionate towards smaller life forms, I was doomed!

I got sucked in and flushed downward into the ocean, and once I was underwater, a giant whale suddenly came up to me and swallowed me whole!

I was still alive, but I was inside the whale and in total darkness. Then I felt something hard and loose rolling around near my foot, so I reached down and picked it up, and I could tell by the feel of it that it was a flashlight. So I turned the flashlight on, and was shocked to see that the inside of the whale's stomach was completely full of random indigestible man-made objects that had somehow ended up in the ocean.

There was so much man-made stuff in the whale's stomach that I couldn't help but curiously start browsing through it all, but then it suddenly hit me that all of the junk that was inside this whale's stomach, was actually all of the junk that I had bought for my apartment to impress a woman someday and that I never used.

Then there was a sudden "crash" and me and all of my material possessions suddenly started tumbling around like clothes in a dryer, and when the tumbling finally stopped, I had lost the flashlight, but it didn't matter, because a bright light suddenly came on in the distance which reilluminated the inside of the whale.

I got up and walked towards the light to see what or where it was coming from, until I realized that the whale's mouth was wide opened and the light was actually coming from outside the whale, so I stepped out of the whale's open mouth and found myself on a bright and sunny beach. (The whale that swallowed me had been washed ashore due to all the garbage it had swallowed.)

I then looked around and saw that there were dozens of other "beached whales" as well, so I desperately tried to push them back into the ocean so they wouldn't die, but they were all way too heavy for me to budge.

Then I heard a loud beeping sound approaching, so I turned around to see what it was, and it was a giant garbage truck driving along the shore to collect all of the beached whales, since they had quite literally become giant sacks of man-made garbage that had been washed up to the "curb" of the ocean, and that were now ready to be taken to the dump!

I then woke up in a hospital bed and realized that the beeping sound was actually coming from a heart monitor that was attached to me, and I was relieved to know that what I had just invisioned was just a dream, but I was also troubled because I suspected that what I had just invisioned was also an environmental nightmare that was really happening in the world.

Because everyone at "Walmart" had seen me with my shirt off when the paramedics were trying to revive me, I was too embarrassed to go back "Walmart" to work (or to shop) and I had no choice but to start searching for a new job. (But I did have the choice to search for a job that was more "environmentally friendly".)



3.
"WHOLE FOODS"


OUTRAGEOUS PRICES

I got a job working at a "Whole Foods", and although I felt really good about the fact that I was working at a "health food" store, the prices at "Whole Foods" were so high, that I was embarrassed to work there!

Even the managers at "Whole Foods" were so embarrassed about their prices that they would purposely not even have price tags on certain items that were ridiculously expensive. (Hoping that customers would just put them in their carts without knowing or even caring what they cost.)

But of course, a lot of customers would want to know how much these expensive items cost, so they would ask me and then I would have to deal with the bulging eyes and the "ARE YOU SHITTING ME???" responses from customers who felt outraged and even "insulted" by our high prices.

Because I dread having to be the "bearer of bad tidings", having to be the one to break the news to someone that a tomato they want to buy cost $7.00 is just as uncomfortable for me as it is for a doctor to have to break the news to someone that they have cancer!

Although "Whole Foods" offered a lot of unique health foods that couldn't be found in regular grocery stores, I felt that they were also causing a lot of people to develop the limiting belief that if you want to eat healthy you have to be a millionare. (Hence the nickname "Whole Paycheck" which I would have to hear over-and-over again anytime I had the unfotunate duty of running a cash register and I had to be the one to tell people how much their total was.)

SIGN ARTIST

Instead of using normal signs like other stores did, "Whole Foods" would use chalkboards and colored chalk to create unique and artistic signs throughout their stores, and because I was an artist the managers let me draw a lot of these signs.

One time they asked me to draw a sign for a big display of pickles that had been imported from all over the world, and the jars of pickles were embarrassingly expensive. (One of them was from Brazil and cost over $100!)

The managers asked me to make a sign that said "Imported Pickles", so I did it, but because the pickles were so expensive, I wrote the word "Important" instead of "Imported", so that the sign said "Important Pickles" as a joke.

I made the sign and hung it up for everyone to see, and what was funny to me was that nobody even noticed the misspelling.

Everyone who worked there was so used to seeing the word "imported" on expensive products, that I guess their minds would just "auto-correct" the word "important" to "imported" whenever they read the sign. (And even if some of the customers read the sign correctly, they probably just looked at the prices and thought to themselves, "Oh wow, these really are some "important" pickles"!)

The sign stayed up for months, and I thought it was hilarious that none of my co-workers could see what I actually wrote even though they were looking right at it. (But it also made me stop and wonder how often my own mind would "auto-correct" things that I saw so that the world around me would make more sense than it actually does.)

THE FIRE

I lived on the 3rd floor of a big apartment complex, and one night I was woken up at 2:00 AM by the sounds of emergency sirens and people yelling outside, so I got out of bed and looked out the window to see what was going on, and my apartment building was on fire!

The police and figherfighters were outside shouting for everyone to evacuate their apartments immediately, and I figured that I better hurry up and get outside, but then a "CHANNEL 8 NEWS" van pulled into the parking lot, and I watched in horror as several camera men jumped out of the news van and started filming the fire, and then a really beautiful female reporter with a microphone got out of the van and started interviewing all of my neighbors who had just been evacuated on live TV.

Because of how "camera shy" I was, I was just as afraid of the thought of being on TV as I was afraid of the fire, so I felt trapped in my apartment and wasn't sure what to do...

WHAT TO WEAR???

As the fire raged on, the temperature in my apartment increased dramatically, and so did my desire to live, so I decided that I had to face my fear of the cameras and go outside, but I was still in my underwear, so I ran to my closet to put something on first...

I went to grab a shirt from my closet, but because it was late at night, it was too dark to see which shirt I was grabbing. (And I knew that if I turned a light on in my apartment everyone outside would see the light come on and I definitely didn't want the unwanted attention that it could bring.)

I was too afraid to just put a random shirt on because most of the shirts that I owned were shirts that I was comfortable wearing when I was home alone, but that I definitely wouldn't choose to wear if I knew that I was going to be on TV.

Plus, some of my shirts were "work shirts" which said, "Whole Foods" on them, and because "Whole Foods" had recently been all over the news due to getting busted for selling "Asparagus Water" (which was nothing more than a small bottle of water with 3 stalks of asparagus in it for $6.00 a bottle) I feared that if I ended up grabbing an employee shirt the beautiful reporter might try to interigate me about the embarrassing "Asparagus Water Scandal" on live TV!
br> It then occurred to me that because I was a male I could technically just go outside without a shirt on, but because of how beautiful the reporter was, I simply didn't have the confidence to do that without putting some serious time in the gym first.

I then looked out the window again and noticed that several of my male neighbors who had just been evacuated were actually standing outside with no shirt on since they had just gotten out of bed and didn't have time to get dressed, and none of them seem embarrassed about it at all. (They didn't even try to cover up their nipples or anything whenever the beautiful reporter would walk up to one of them and start interviewing them!)

I then imagined "Charles Darwin" and thought to myself that if I died in the fire it would be "natural selection", because a man who is too embarrassed to be seen by a woman without a shirt on is highly unlikely to ever reproduce.

Then my apartment started to fill up with smoke and I got so desperate that I decided to call 911...

THE 911 CALL

I called 911, and when a woman answered and asked me what my emergency was I told her that my apartment was on fire.

I then explained to her that the fire department was already there to put it out, but that I was really shy and there were a lot of people outside of my apartment (including people from the news who were filming everything) and that I just wanted to know if she could please get a hold of the police who were there on the scene and ask them to please have everyone turn around and face the parking lot for just a minute or two so that I could leave my apartment without everyone looking at me...

But unfortunately, she didn't understand or empathize with my "social awkwardness" one bit, and she just started shouting at me in a angry and commanding voice, "IF YOUR APARTMENT IS ON FIRE, THAN YOU HAVE TO LEAVE NOW!!!"

Then the phone suddenly went dead due to the fire, but I'm guessing that she had traced my call and reported it to the fire department, because less than a minute later a fire fighter suddenly showed up at my door and started pounding on it while yelling...

"I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE! COME ON OUT!! YOU HAVE TO LEAVE NOW!!!"

I was way too afraid to open the door, so I simply said nothing and hoped he would think there was no one home, but then he then walked over to my living room window and punched it twice, and on the second punch the window shattered!

He then crawled into my apartment while shinning a flashlight at me and I tried to run away from him, but my apartment was so full of smoke that I couldn't see where I was going, and I ran right into a wall head first, which knocked me silly and caused me to fall to the ground.

Then the firefighter (who was a very big and strong man) picked me up and hoisted me up on his shoulders, and then he carried me out of my apartment and down the metal apartment stairs that were connected to the outside of the building while I had nothing on but a pair of underwear (and while I was kicking and screaming in terror but also smiling and laughing like a little schoolgirl at the same time due to how ticklish I was) and of course, everyone was staring at me!

Once we got down the steps he set me on the ground, and then another fire fighter came running over to me with a big gray "fire blanket" and wrapped it around me so that only my head was showing. But then the beautiful female reporter came running over to interview me, so I quickly ducked my head down into the blanket to hide from her like a frightened turtle!

She attempted to interview me, but I kept my head down until she finally got the hint that I was shy, and then once I heard the sound of her high heel shoes walking away across the pavement, I slowly poked my head back up and saw that my apartment was now completely engulfed in flames, and that everything I owned was on fire!

OUT OF THE ASHES

It was determined that the fire started because one of my neighbors had fallen asleep on his couch while he was smoking a cigarette, and it ended up destroying 28 people's apartments. (Including mine.)

When I was finally allowed to go back inside of what was left of my apartment, all of my material possessions that I had spent so much money on (and had gotten myself into serious debt over) had been completely destroyed, and all that I could really salvage was about 13 dollar's worth of coins.

I desperately needed clothes, but I imagined that 13 dollars wouldn't even be enough to buy a decent shirt. Then one of my neighbors (who I ended up having no choice but to meet and talk to due to the fire and who I ended up having a good conversation with) told me that there was a "thrift store" across the street where I could some really inexpensive clothes.

I had never been to a "thrift store" before, and all I knew was that they sold used clothes, so I guess that I had always imagined that the clothes at a "thrift store" would be really old and raggedy looking, and that the only people who would shop there would be people who were either really poor or homeless. But left with no other options (and realizing that I myself was now really poor and homeless) I swallowed my pride and went to the thrift store...

When I went to the "thrift store", I couldn't believe what I saw! It was full of "slightly used" clothing that still looked great, and instead of prices that were inconceiveably high like at "Whole Foods" the prices at the "Thrift Store" were so inconceiveably low that I told myself that the "Thrift Store" was where I would be buying my clothes for now on.

With the 13 dollars that I had, I was able to buy a really professional looking business suit. (Which I wore to my next job interview, and I got the job!)




4.
"THE OFFICE"


HOLDING THE DOOR OPEN FOR SOMEONE

I got a job working as an "office temp" for an auto insurance company, and when I showed up for my first day of work, I pulled into the parking lot and started walking towards the front door of the building. But there was an old man ahead of me who was also walking towards the door, and he was walking a lot slower than me, so I purposely slowed way down just to avoid getting close enough to him that we might have to say "Hello" to each other.

When the old man finally got to the door, he opened it and was about to go inside, but then he turned around and noticed that I was walking toward the door, so instead of going inside, he just stood there and held the door open for me.

* You have to understand that friendly gestures like this make socially awkward people like myself extremely uncomfortable, because although he may have been saving me the trouble of having to open the door, he was putting me in the much more difficult situation of having to open my mouth, and say, "Thank you". (And possibly having to engage in a minute or more of meaningless "small talk"!)

So I started to walk a lot slower in the hopes that he would just give up and go inside without me, but it wasn't working, and he continued to wait for me at the door.

Then I pretended that one of my shoelaces was untied and I bent down and started pretending to tie my show, but after about a minute of fidgeting with my shoelaces, I looked back up and he was still standing there. (But now he now looked a bit impatient, and looked as if he thought that I was purposely taking my time just to waste his time!)

I then stood back up and honestly tried my best to wald toward him, but I just couldn't make my legs move forward, so I just stood there and stared awkwardly at him, until it got so awkward that I actually started walking backwards involuntarily!

The old man was looking at me in disbelief as I walked backwards and back to my car, and I looked at him in disbelief too, because I honestly had no clue what I was doing either!

Once I finished walking backwards to my car, I put my hands in my pocket and started feeling around with a confused look on my face to make him think that I had just forgotten something important, and then I got back in my car and acted like I was searching for something.

I pretended that I was searching for something in my glove compartment even though it was completely empty, and after spending a few minutes doing this I glanced back up to see if the old man was still standing at the door, and I was horrified to see that he was actually walking towards my car with a big frown on his face!

I got so scared that I screamed and then I started up my car and then I drove away from him as fast as I could!

I drove around the block a few times just to kill some time, and when I finally returned to the office, I was relieved to see that the old man was no longer outside. But when I went inside, I found out that he was actually my boss, AND I was also over 20 minutes late, AND he was really mad at me because I left big black tire marks in the parking lot when I sped away from him!

It was such an epically bad first impression, that it still blows my mind to this day that he didn't just fire me over it on the spot.

BRING YOUR KIDS TO WORK DAY

On my second day of work at the office, it was "BRING YOUR KIDS TO WORK DAY".

I was the only person in the office who didn't have kids, and because it was still considered strange back then for a man my age to still be single and not have any kids, this led to people asking me if I was gay or a virgin on only my second day of working there.

During our "lunch break" that day, all of the kids went outside to play "kick ball", while all of the adults stayed inside and watched them playing from the break room windows. There were two big tables in the break room, and all of the male employees were sitting at one table while all of the women were sitting at the other table.

As we were watching the kids play, one of the kids kicked the ball so hard that it flew across the yard and hit an overweight boy right between the legs. (Which caused him to fall down while grabbing his private area, and caused everyone sitting at the "male table" to grab their private area and say "Ouch!!!" out of empathy.)

The overweight boy slowly got back up and limped back inside while holding his groin, but when he got to the break room he walked right up to his mom, and in front of everyone he shouted...

"MOM MY BALLS HURT!!!"

I was so shocked that the boy said the word "balls" to his mother, that I turned to one of my male co-workers named "Eric" and asked him, "Could you say that to your Mom?"

He looked a bit puzzled by my question, and asked, "What, that my balls hurt?" so I said "Yeah." and he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I guess so... Why?"

I couldn't believe what I was hearing, so I asked him, "You mean to tell me that you could say that to your mom and not feel embarrassed?" and in confusion he asked me, "Well what are you supposed to say if your balls hurt???"

He then looked me up and down and said, "You know, I can tell that you must have lived a very sheltered life growing up!" and then he added, "And I bet that if you woke up with a mysterious lump on your balls, you would be too embarrassed to go to a doctor to have it looked at." So I thought about it for a moment, and then I admitted to him that even calling the doctor's office to schedule an appointment for something like over the phone would be way too embarrassing for me!

He then got a big grin on his face and pulled out his cellphone, and in front of everyone he called his mother's phone but she didn't answer, so he left her the following voice message...

Hi Mom, it's "Eric", and I just wanted to call and tell you that I love you.

I also wanted to let you know that the kids are all doing really well in school, and that I'm going to buy Dad that set of golf clubs that he was talking about for his birthday next month!

And before I forget, "Susan" asked me to please call you and thank you for giving her your lasagna recipe. We had it on Sunday, and although it wasn't quite the same as when you make it, it was still really good, so thanks a lot from all of us!

And... Oh yeah, my balls hurt a little today...

Well, OK, I gotta go Mom, Bye!


He then hung up the phone and everyone at the male table burst out laughing about his phone messages (including me) but I still think that it's weird to be able to say something like that to your mom!

SENSITIVE CAR ALARM

One of my co-workers named "John" had an incredibly sensitive car alarm that would go off just because there was loud thunder outside, or just because a stray cat walked past his car.

I worked on the 3rd floor of the office, and one day I looked out the window and saw "John's" car in the parking lot, and then I looked over at a trash can near my desk and saw a "McDonalds" french fry carton that still had a few french fries in it. So I took one of the french fries and quietly opened the window just a crack, and then when no one was looking I threw the french fry at "John's" car to see if a french fry would make his car alarm go off.

The first 2 french fries that I threw missed his car, but when I threw the 3rd one it landed on the hood of his car and actually made his alarm go off! (Which made "John" look up from his computer and yell "OH SHIT!" and then everyone in the office immediately ran to the windows out of fear that someone was in the parking lot trying to steal their cars.)

I thought it was funny that all it took was a french fry to make his car alarm go off, but I also thought it was kind of scary that all it took was a french fry to make everyone in the office stop what they were doing and act like it was the end of the world.

Even though all of my co-workers had cars that were "new", at least once a month someone in the office would get a "newer" car, and whenever this would happen everyone would act all impressed about it until someone in the office got an "even newer" car.

"Road Cringe"

Although I drove a car, I never enjoyed driving due to how awkward it was for someone like me. Everyone has heard of "Road Rage" (where being on the road can induce intense anger in drivers) but there is also something known as "Road Cringe" (where being on the road can induce intense awkardness in drivers) and below are some examples of things that would cause me to experience "Road Cringe"...

- Whenever I would get stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle that was a smaller than mine and worry that the impatient drivers behind me wouldn't be able to see the smaller vehicle in front of me and would think that the slow traffic was all my fault.

- Whenever someone behind me would start honking and shouting obscenities at me because I was going the speed limit instead of speeding, then they would speed past me and give me the finger, but we would end up stopping side-by-side at the next traffic light anyways.

- Whenever I would be approaching a "4-Way Stop" and notice that another car was going to get there at the same time as me, so I would purposely slow way down so that they would get there first and be gone before I got there, but when they would get to the stop, they would just stay there which would make me start silently screaming in my head, "No, No, No!!! Please Just Go!!! Don't Do This To Me!!!" and then when I got to the stop, they would wave for me to go ahead and go first, and I would have to put on a fake smile and wave at them to show appreciation for their "act of kindness".

And not only was driving awkward, but it was also unnecessary since I lived near everywhere I went, and my insurance rates were so expensive that I started to strongly consider getting rid of my car. But when I told some of my male co-workers about this idea, they all told me that no woman would ever want to date a guy who didn't have a car, so I got scared and decided to keep it.

PERFUME AND COLOGNE

While I was at work, I had to sit between 2 large women ("Barbara" & "Roxanne") who would always wear really strong perfume that would make me feel nauseous and even dizzy!

And it would always blow my mind when the other men in the office would actually come over and compliment "Barbara" & "Roxanne" on how "good" their perfume smelled!

I wanted to find a girlfriend someday, but the problem was that literally every woman I had ever met wore perfume. (Which was basically a repellent to me in the same way that "bug spray" is to an insect.) And I also refused to wear cologne (even though women supposedly loved it) because the smell of cologne would make me sick too.

And it would always blow my mind to think that the toxic and horrible smelling colognes that other men would wear were often marketed for their "power of attraction", and would actually have brand names such as "Irresistible", "Temptation", and "Seduction"!

I couldn't take it anymore, so I started going to the manager office and begging and pleading with my boss to move me to a different area of the office so that I wouldn't have to sit by "Barbara" & "Roxanne" anymore, and he finally agreed to move me to the opposite end of the office.

But unfortunately, he actually told "Barbara" & "Roxanne" that the reason he had moved me was because I kept telling him that their perfume was making me want to throw up! (So I knew that if I ever had to interact with "Barbara" or "Roxanne" in the future it was going to be super awkward!)

THE HALLWAY OF DOOM

The copy machine at work was located in a small room by itself, and you needed to walk down a long and narrow hallway to get to it.

The problem with this, was that sometimes a person who had just finished making some copies would be walking out of the copy machine room as I was approaching it, and because the hallway was so narrow, we would have no choice but to acknowledge each other with empty "small talk" such as...

Them: "How are you?"
Me: "Good."
Me: "How are you?"
Them: "Good."

Or even worse, the person would say something that was supposed to be funny like, "Working hard or hardly working?" or "Are we having fun yet?" and I just couldn't take these pointless and awkward hallway encounters anymore, so if I was walking toward the copy machine room and someone suddenly walked out of it, I would instantly turn around and come back later to avoid having to walk past them.

But one day I was walking to the copy machine, and when I was about halfway there "Barbara" (one of the women who got offended because I said that her perfume smelled bad) suddenly walked out of the copy machine room and started walking towards me.

I of course turned around immediately to avoid her, but as soon as I did, I was horrified to see "Roxanne" (the other woman who got offended because I said that her perfume smelled bad) was on her way to the copy machine too and was walking towards me as well.

I looked back and forth at both of these women who I was way too uncomfortable to interact with as they were approaching me from opposite directions, and I realized that I was trapped!

I then remembered the "bridge scene" in the movie "Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom" when "Indian Jones" was standing in the middle of a primitive bridge that was made out of wood and ropes, and there were people with swords who were coming onto the bridge from both directions wanting to kill him.

In the movie, "Indiana Jones" did something totally crazy... (He pulled his sword out and cut the bridge in half, causing everyone who was trying to kill him to fall to their death!)

Once "Barbara" and "Roxanne" were both only a few feet away from me, I reached my arms high up in the air as if I was holding a sword, and then I slammed my arms down in an attempt to cut the hallway in half, and although I didn't cut the hallway in half, I did pull down the emergency fire alarm lever that was on the wall in front of me, causing the alarm to go off!

The alarm was so loud that "Barbara" and "Roxanne" both stopped walking towards me and started covering their ears, and then the sprinklers in the ceiling turned on and they both got down on the ground and covered their heads!

I then jumped over "Roxanne", ran back to my desk, and since I knew full well that I was going to be fired over the incident, I went ahead and just kept running out the building and back to the parking lot, never to return.

As soon as I got in my car, I looked back at the office and saw that my boss had just came out the front door and he was running towards me so that he could finally fire me, so I once again sped away from him (and I once again left another huge set of black tire streaks in his parking lot) and then I drove down the street so fast that I lost control of the car and hit the curb of the road which caused me to get a flat tire.

Although I could still technically drive with 1 flat tire, it was making such a loud noise that I was too embarrassed to keep driving, and I was also too uncomfortable to try to get someone to stop and help me fix the tire, so I simply pulled over to the side of the road, got out and walked home without my car. (And I honestly have no idea whatever happened to it or where it is now.)

As I walked home, I looked around and realized that I was litteraly the only person who was actually walking, and at first I felt embarrassed to be the only one on the road who had to walk instead of drive, but then I was able to go from feeling embarrassed to feeling proud in an instant by telling myself that I was the one person on the road who was actually fit enough to walk and who didn't need a 2,000-pound vehicle that ran on fossil fuels just to get places, and I was thrilled to not have to drive anymore car!



5.
"STEEL FACTORY"

"ALL MALE CO-WORKERS"

I got a job working at a steel factory, which was great because it involved a lot of heavy lifting and physical exercise that helped me get more in shape. But because everyone who worked there was a man, there was a lot of vulgar language and dirty jokes being told, and because I didn't talk like that, it quickly became obvious to all my male co-workers that I was still a virgin, and they all made it their "mission" to help me with that even though I didn't want their help.



UNEXPECTED VISITORS

I worked at the factory 6 days a week and was always off on Sunday since the factory was closed that day. And one Sunday afternoon I was at home when I suddenly got a knock at my door, so I quietly tip toed to the door, and when I looked through the "peek hole" to see who it was, I couldn't believe what I saw...

It was 2 Mormon missionaries! (It was obvious that they were Mormon missionaries because they were so young and clean cut, and they were wearing white dress shirts, black pants, and name badges, and they of course were both holding a copy of "The Book of Mormon".

I was too afraid to open the door, so I just pretended to not be home as they continued to knock, and when they finally gave up and were about to get on their bicycles and leave, they slid a note under my door saying that it had been over 10 years since I last attended church, and that they missed me and wanted to invite me to start going to church again on Sundays.

"How on Earth did the Mormons find me?" I wondered to myself. Heck, I didn't even know where I lived! (Any time that I needed to write down my address, I would have to look at some of my "junk mail" first just to find out what it was, because I had no social life whatsoever and it was so rare that I had to tell someone my address that I simply never memorized it.)

For the next several Sundays, the missionaries kept showing up at my apartment and knocking on my door while I would pretend to not to be home, and I was getting so embarrassed over the fact that my neighbors might think that I was a "Mormon" that as soon as my apartment lease was about to expire, I told my landlords that I wanted to stay, but that I wanted to move to a different apartment within the complex. (Just to hide from the missionaries.)

They told me that the only vacant apartment they had at the time was a "studio apartment" (which was basically just a room with a tiny bathroom attached to it) and because of how desperate I was to hide from the Mormons, I decided to go ahead and "down-grade" to a much smaller "studio apartment".

When I moved into my "studio apartment" I hated it! It was embarrassingly small. (So small that I told myself that there was no way I could have a girlfriend for the next year that I was contractually bound to stay there.) Moving into a smaller apartment felt like going backwards to me, and I kept thinking to myself that I should have moved into a bigger place not a smaller one.

And then after only 3 days of living in my pathetically small apartment, I got a knock on my door, so I peeked through the peek hole and was furious to see that it was the "Mormon" missionaries again!

I had no idea how they kept finding me or what kind of "detective work" they went through, but I felt like I was being stalked!



THE FINAL STRAW

The missionaries kept showing up at my tiny apartment on Sundays to knock on my door, and then one day while I was at work I heard one of my co-workers yell my name, so I turned to see what he wanted, and I was shocked to see him walking towards me with the missionaries!

The missionaries were smiling and waving at me with enthusiasm as they approached me, so I nervously waved back at them as I looked around and realized that all of my male co-workers were looking at the missionaries in confusion and wondering what the hell they were doing in the factory.

I did my best to keep up a fake a smile as I said, "Hey guys..." and then I asked, "What are you doing here?" and one of them said, "We just wanted to cordially invite you to come to church on Sunday." So I started to say, "Oh, well that's nice of you." but then the other one tried to be funny by putting his hands on his hips and waving his finger at me in an accusatory way while saying "And your boss told us that you're always off on Sundays, so you have no excuse not to be there!" and then the missionaries and all of my co-workers started laughing.

I couldn't believe the audacity, and I felt so much anger in that moment that I really wanted to tell the missionaries to quit stalking me and to leave me alone or else I would call the cops and get a restraining order put on them! But because everyone was staring at me and laughing I just pretended to laugh too and said, "Yeah you're right."

Then I actually started to feel sorry for the missionaries and I was so afraid that one of my male co-workers was going to say the "F" word or something else that would be completely inappropriate to say in front of a Mormon missionary that I just wanted to get them out of the factory before things got any more awkward, so I told them that I would be at church on Sunday, but that I had to get back to work and would see them then...

So the missionaries said "Great, see you Sunday!" and they left the factory while shaking hands with multiple co-workers on the way out, and of course as soon they were gone all of my male co-workers started laughing hysterically and saying that it totally made sense now why I didn't go the bar after work like everyone else at the factory did, and why I never showed up to work on Mondays eager to tell everyone about the sexual conquests that I had over the weekends... They thought I was a Mormon!

I didn't want to go to church, but I knew that if I didn't the missionaries would keep showing up at my job and my apartment, so I decided to just quit my job, and I lied and told everyone that it was because I was moving to "Idaho" and that I already had a job waiting for me there at a car-wash. (That way, the missionaries would think I had moved away and would be searching for me in "Idaho".)

I told my boss that my last day would be that Friday, and when I showed up to work on my last day, all of my co-workers decided to have a big "going away party" me after work. I thought that was nice of them to do something like that at first, but then I found out that they were having the party at a restaurant across the street called "Hooters" (which was notorious for having female waitresses with large breasts) and they also invited the missionaries to the party!

It was obvious to me that they were just wanting to see me and the missionaries reaction to the busty female waitresses, so before the missionaries arrived at the factory I told my co-workers that I would walk to the restaurant with the missionaries, and then once the missionaries got there I pulled them aside and told them that I was getting a ride from one of my co-workers, and then once it was time to go I simply walked home while everyone else went to "Hooters".

So, I didn't even attend my own "going away party", and I guess that my perverted male co-workers and the missionaries had it without me. (I can only imagine how awkward it must have been for the missionaries.)

And speaking of the missionaries, because I was being groomed to be a missionary when I was kid growing up, I knew that Mormon missionaries had to be in bed early, so when I searched for a new job I looked for one that was late at night, just so there would be no chance of the missionaries showing up where I worked and embarrassing me again.



6.
"LATE NIGHT GAS STATION ATTENDANT"

"THE PROS AND CONS OF WORKING AT A GAS STATION LATE AT NIGHT"

Pros

The best part about working at a gas station late at night was the fact that there weren't a lot of customers, and most of the time I was completely alone and didn't have anything to do, so I started bring art supplies with me to work and started to get back into art after a long time of not being very artistic due to always being too busy with work.

There was a small tray that was full of pennies near the cash register that said, "Take A Penny, Leave A Penny" to help out customers who needed a few extra cents to pay for their gas, and as a joke I made a second tray and filled it up with "court room sketches" that I drew of "The Pillsburry Doughboy", and on the side of the tray I wrote, "Take A Pillsburry Doughboy Courtroom Sketch, Leave A Pillsburry Doughboy Courtroom Sketch".


"The Pillsbury Doughboy Take The Oath"

The tray that I made would get a lot of strange looks from customers, and I would always keep a straight face and act like it wasn't meant to be funny. (And sometimes customers would take one of my sketches home with them, which always gave me a thrill and made me feel that art was what I was what I really wanted to do for a living.)
Cons



Although the people who would come to the gas station late at night were few and far between, they tended to be shady and at times downright scary! And instead of bringing art supplies to work like I did, the guy who would work the night shift on my nights off would actually bring a gun to work, just incase quote, "shit hit the fan"!
The Night I Got Robbed



And one night around 2:00 in the morning a man walked in the gas station and told me that he wanted a pack of cigarettes that were behind me, so I turned to get the cigarettes for him, but when I turned back around he had his hand in his coat and he started shouting that he had a gun that he would pull it out and shoot me if I didn't give him all my money!

I screamed and put my hands up while yelling, "Don't shoot, don't shoot!" and I even lied and said, "I have a wife a kids at home." but he just yelled, "Shut the fuck up and give me all the fucking money in the fucking cash register!"

I was so scared that I almost peed my pants, but even though he claimed to have a gun, he didn't actually show it to me, and he instead just had his hand in his coat, so I started to suspect that he was just pointing his hand so that it would look like a gun under his coat, but I couldn't tell for sure, and I definitely didn't want to risk getting shot, so I decided to just give him the money.

I went to open the register for him, but I was in such a state of shock and fear that my mind froze up on me, and I actually forgot how to open it until he got so frustrated that he pulled his hand out of his jacket (while it was still shaped like a gun) and he pointed at the button that said "Open Register" and he yelled, "It's that fucking button!" but then he realized that he had just exposed the fact that he didn't actually have a gun so his eyes got all wide and he said, "Oh shit!" as he quickly put his hand back into his coat, and then he looked all paranoid as if he wasn't sure if he should just take off running or actually keep on pretending that he had a gun.

At that point I almost peed my pants again (but due to struggly not to laugh) and because he was smaller than me, I felt confident that I could easily defend myself if I had to.

But because I also suffer from "Secondhand Embarrassment" (whne you get embarrassed whenever you see other people get embarrassed or make a fool of themselves out of empathy) I actually started to feel kind of sorry for him, so I decided to continue to act as scared as possible just so he would think that I still believed he had a gun and so he wouldn't go home and feel really embarrassed about the incident.

I put all the money in a bag for him and handed it to him, but I guess that it wasn't nearly as much as he was hoping for, because he looked at it with disappointment, and I felt so bad for him that I actually pulled out my wallet, set in on the counter, and told him that he could have it and to please not shoot me.

He immediately grabbed my wallet, but then he looked at it strange and asked, "Why is your wallet all wet?" and then he looked down at my pants and noticed that I had peed my pants. (I felt so bad for him that I went ahead and peed my pants on purpose just for a "visual aid" to help make him think that I believed he had a gun.)

He then got a really disgusted look on his face and threw the wallet back at me while yelling, "You sick fuck!" so I quickly tried to move out of the way to avoid getting hit, and the wallet ended up just barely hit my hand, but then I slipped on some urine that was on the ground and it caused my feet to go flying up in the air, and I literally did a back flip in the air and came crashing down hard to the ground.

Because there was a counter between me and the man, he couldn't see that there was urine on the ground, and therefore he thought that even though he had just barely hit my hand with the wallet it caused me to flip over like that!

At that point, it must have been just as obvious to the man that I didn't have a wife and kids as it was to me that he didn't have a gun, because as I got back up to my feet he was looking at me in complete disbelief and he actually asked, "You said that you have a wife and kids???" so I said, "Ugh... Yeah." and then after several moments of awkward silence he just shook his head, grabbed the bag of money, and took off running.

Because he wasn't wearing a mask or anything to disguise himself, and because there were cameras in the store that captured the whole incident on video, it probably would have been easy to find and prosecute him, but because I had acted so scared, I didn't want anyone to see the video.

Then my overactive imagination started worrying that me and the robber might end up on the TV show "World's Dumbest Criminals" and get laughed at by millions of people, and that we would both have to spend the rest of our lives cringing about it!

So I opened up my wallet (which had far more money in it than the cash regster did since I ended up saving so much money each month by moving into the smaller apartment) and I put all my money into the cash register so that no money would be missing and so my boss would have no reason to watch the security tapes, and I acted as if nothing happened that night.

But because I was now broke due to putting all my money in the register, I decided to get a second job at "Sears"and work both day and night for a while, and since the missionaries seemed to have stopped showing up at my apartment, once I could no longer keep working both day and night I decided to quit my night job at the gas station and just work during the day at "Sears"...



7.
"SEARS"


CHAOS = PEACE

I got a job working at a "Sears", and although "Sears" used to be the #1 retail store in the United States, it was heading for bankruptcy when I started working there, and the writing was on the wall that the company wouldn't likely be around much longer.

I actually loved working at "Sears" though because it was such a chaotic environment!

Everyone who worked at "Sears" believed that they were on a sinking ship, so there were so many people quitting that there was always a ton of work not getting done. (Which made me feel "safe" because of how badly they needed help at the time.)

And due to how desperate the company was to find people to work there, some of my co-workers were getting away with "mind-blowing" behavior...

There was a really lazy old guy who worked there named "Stanley", and one day one of the managers caught him inside a barber shop across the street getting his hair cut when he was on the clock and supposed to be rounding up carts! But due to how hard it was to find anyone who wanted to work there, he didn't get fired over it and was just told not to do it again.

There was also a cashier named "David" who the managers believed was stealing money because there was always cash missing from his register. So one day they performed a surprise search on him right before he left work and theyfound $200 hidden in his sock (and there was also $200 missing from his register) so he was fired on the spot.

He denied taking the money and threatened to sue "Sears" for "wrongful termination". (And he even claimed that he was going to sue the company for so much money that he would personally be the one to finally put "Sears" out of business.) But once he realized that they also caught him taking the money on camera he finally admitted that he did it. But then he claimed that the only reason he was taking money was because he wanted to start his own business and just really needed the money, and that once his business was successful, he planned on paying "Sears" back all of the money that he had been "borrowing".

Everyone laughed and couldn't believe that he actually tried to use that as an excuse, but nobody was laughing a couple weeks later when he actually got his job back!

The other people I worked with would get really upset whenever someone would keep their job despite their bad behavior, but they were also losing sleep at night because of how paranoid they were of losing their own job, so whenever I would see someone misbehaving and not losing their job over it, I would just look at it as "job security" and think to myself, "As long as that person still has a job, I shouldn't have anything to worry about."

I knew that "Sears" would eventually go out of business and that I couldn't keep this job forever, but I intended to stick around and ride the waves of chaos until the very end...

RETIREMENT

There was an old man I worked with at "Sears" named "John Thompson" who had been working at "Sears" for 49 years, and despite his age, he appeared to still be in good health and was always interesting to talk to.

He had seen the great rise and the great fall of the company, and he had literally worked with thousands of co-workers and millions of customers during his long tenure with the company.

He was also the epitome of a "workaholic", because not only would he work overtime any chance he got, but even on his days off he would actually show up to work in street clothes just to hang out and talk to everyone.

His plan was to work until he had reached his 50th anniversary with the company, and then he was going to use the money that he had been saving up over the years to buy a big house in "West Virginia" and enjoy comfortable retirement way out in the country.

Once he finally reached his 50th anniversary, he officially retired, and "Sears" had a big party for him on his last day upstairs in the manager's office, and a News crew even showed up to film his retirement party for the local News. (Which was totally live.)

As soon as the cameras started rolling a reported with a microphone walked up to "John" and said, "OK, so the date was August 19th, 1957, and it was your very first day at "Sears". Please take us back to that historic day, and tell us what your very first day of work was like."

"John" thought about it for a moment, and said that he honestly didn't even remember his very first day of work since it was 50 years ago.

Then one of the managers chimed in and asked him, "Do you remember your very first manager?" and "John" started to laugh and said, "Oh yeah, it was a guy named "Mr. Simmons"... He was OK, but he was kind of jealous of me, because believe it or not 50 years ago I was actually a handsome young man, and he didn't like the fact that all the pretty young cashiers would flirt with me instead of him, so he used to go around and tell all the cashiers, "Hey, whatever you do, stay away from that new guy "John", because he's a pedophile!"

Then the News guy who was interviewing him immediately looked at the camera with a paranoid look on his face and said, "Well OK I think that wraps up things here, so let's go back to "Linda" for tonight's weather forecast!"

Then the cameras went off and everyone (including the people from the News) started laughing and trying to explain to "John" why using the word "pedophile" was totally inappropriate for a News story like that, but no matter how much everyone tried to explain it to him, he just kept getting confused and saying, "But they talk about pedophiles all the time on the News."

When the party was over, everyone gave their emotional "goodbyes" to "John" and then we watched him drive off into the sunset to finally enjoy the retirement that he so rightfully deserved. But when I showed up to work the following morning, everyone was crying, because they just found out that "John" had a heart attack and died on the very first morning of his retirement!

It seemed so unfair to me that he had worked that hard for that long and that he didn't even get to enjoy his retirement. But then I thought back to just how much he loved his job, and I realized that in the same way that a person who has been married to someone for 50 years will likely die very soon after their lover passes a way, he probably felt such an unbearable void when he suddenly woke up one morning without the job that he had been faithfully going to for 50 years that it literally killed him!

AS SEEN ON TV

"Sears" sold lots of products that had a little red sticker on the label which said, "AS SEEN ON TV", and there was also a popular home work-out video series at the time called "Sweating To The Oldies" where they would work-out to classic hit songs from the old days.

Sometimes I would use a label maker at work, so as a joke I made a bunch of little red stickers that said "AS SEEN ON SWEATING TO THE OLDIES" and I secretly put them on lots of random products that had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with "Sweating To The Oldies" like "Mr. Potato Head" dolls, fingernail glue, and Halloween decorations.

So, if you ever bought anything from "Sears" back in the day that had one of these stickers on it, now you know where it came from ;)

IN LOVE WITH MY NEW BOSS

All of my managers at "Sears" were men, but then we suddenly got a female managers named "Shamaya" who was a beautiful black woman and who was the same age as me.

Whenever "Shamaya" would come up to me and say, "Can you do me a favor?" I would smile uncontrollably and say, "I'd love to!" with uncontrollable enthusiasm, and I would always work extra hard whenever she was the one who asked me to do something because of how much I liked her, and because of how much I wanted her to like me too.

But one day I was walking up to the office to get a price tag maker (and to hopefully catch a glimpse of "Shamaya") and when I got to the office door I put my ear up to the door before opening it. (I always do this before walking into a room full of people that I know, because I worry that they might be talking about me, and I know that if I walked in the room when people are in the middle of saying something bad about me it would forever be awkward any time we see each other in the future.)

When I put my ear up to the door, I could hear that all of the managers were in the office talking to each other, and just as I feared, they were all talking about me!

At one point I heard one of the male managers named "Daryl" ask "Shamaya" why it was that any time she asked me to do something I would do it, but whenever he would ask me to do something I would forget about it, and he would have to keep asking me 4 or 5 times before I finally did what he asked me to, and "Shamaya" started laughing and said, "Because I have tits!"

As soon as she said that, all the other mangers burst out laughing, and then they all started joking about the fact that it was obvious that I had a big crush on her, and that it was also obvious that I was still a virgin, and that I would probably have a heart attack if I saw her naked.

I of course felt way too embarrassed to just walk into the room when they were all in the middle of having that kind of a discussion about me, so I just turned around and went back to work, and I told myself that whenever I saw "Shamaya" from now on I would try to control myself and not act any differently around her than I would if I was interacting with one of the male managers... But I found this to be too difficult, and I simply couldn't keep from being overwhelmed with nervous excitement whenever I saw her!

BUYING TOILET PAPER

I was always too embarrassed to buy toilet paper, and would usually just take small amounts of toilet paper from the bathroom at work home with me, but felt guilty about this after a while, so one day I ordered a HUGE box of 400 rolls of toilet paper. (And I also paid an extra $15.00 to have the giant box "gift wrapped" just so there would be no chance of my neighbors seeing what it was when it got delivered.)

According to the tracking information, the package was delivered to my doorstep on a Monday at 1:14 in the afternoon, but I was working that day until 5:00 in the afternoon, and by the time I got home someone had stolen the package.

Rather than getting upset about it, I looked at it as "karma" for all of the toilet paper that I had stolen at work. (And I also imagined that it was karma for whoever stole it, once they opened the box and realized what was inside.)

But when I got my credit card bill in the mail, I was confused, because there were some charges on it that I didn't make. (Someone had used my credit card number to purchase $800 dollar's worth of clothing from some stores in "Italy".)

When I called my credit card company about it, they said that it sounded like I was a victim of "Identity Theft" and to contact a lawyer immediately, and not to worry, because I wouldn't have to pay for any purchases that a lawyer felt was "Identity Theft".)

So I was about to call a lawyer, but then I panicked because I realized that if I met with a lawyer over my recent purchases, he (or even worse "she") would see that I had recently purchased a gigantic box of toilet paper, and that I had even paid to have it "gift wrapped" and sent to my own apartment, so I was too embarrassed to call a lawyer, and I ended up just telling the credit card company to cancel my card immediately before any more charges could made by whoever was pretending to be me.

Because I refused to meet with the lawyer, I ended up having to pay the $800 worth of charges that I didn't even make! Which I was really upset about it at first, but looking back, I'm grateful that it happened, because it forced me to finally get rid of my credit card. (Which meant that I no longer had the ability to buy things that I couldn't afford.)

I then devoted the next several months to working hard and paying off my credit card debt, and once it was finally paid off, I felt such a powerful feeling of freedom that I gathered up everything in my apartment that I didn't really need and I donated it all to the "thrift store", and when I went back home to my now very empty apartment, I realized that I was becoming a real "minimalist" and I liked it.

LOST PAYCHECK

There was a guy I worked with at "Sears" named "Robert Burger" who was the clumsiest person that I have ever met in my life.

He was constantly breaking merchandise on accident, and one time he fell and broke his arm at work and had to take 10 weeks off. Then when his arm finally healed, he went to the hospital to have his cast removed, but as he was leaving the hospital he tripped and fell down the stairs and broke his leg!

Every Friday was "pay-day" at work, and one Friday I got my paycheck and put it in my pants pocket, then I went home and did my laundry, and when the laundry was finished, I opened up the drier and there were several little balls of paper everywhere, so I examined them closely and realized that it was my paycheck!

I felt so foolish for putting my paycheck in the washing machine, and I was almost too embarrassed to call work and explain what happened. But I was completely broke at the time, and I didn't want to lose a whole week's worth of pay, so I felt that I had no choice but to call the store.

When I called the store "Shamya" answered the phone, so I got even more nervous about it and said, "Hi "Shamya", and as soon as she heard my voice she asked in astonishment if it was really me and then she asked, "Are you OK?" so I told her, "Oh yeah, I'm fine... How are you?" and she said, "I'm just in shock that you're actually on the phone with me, because you're always so quiet and shy."

Then she asked, "What can I do for you?" and I thought to myself that it wouldn't be so embarrassing if this sort of thing happened to everyone, so I nervously said, "Oh...Well... I know that this is kind of a strange question, but do you by any chance know if anyone at work has ever accidentally left their paycheck in their pants pocket and then washed it?"

Then she started laughing, and she said, "Oh yes that's happened before." and I immediately felt relieved to know that at least I wasn't the only one who it had happened to. But then she said, "It happened to "Robert Burger"!"

I then thought to myself, "Oh no! The fact that it happened to "Robert Burger" too makes this even more embarrassing!"

Then she started laughing even more and she asked me, "Can you believe how clumsy that guy is?" and because I imagined that she would never date me if she thought of me as a clumsy "Robert Burger" type I just said, "Oh... Ha, ha, yeah, that guy is beyond "accident prone"." Then I said, "Well, OK, that's all I wanted to know." and then she asked me "You mean to tell me that you just called me out of the blue to ask a random question like that?" and I said "Yeah." and she started laughing even harder and said "You are so funny and so adorable!"

So I ended up losing a full week of pay, but I was totally fine with that, because she thought that I was funny and adorable!

But I was broke at the time and no longer had a credit card, so to save money I decided to simply not eat anything until I got my paycheck the following week.

The first day or two that I didn't eat anything I felt hungry and my stomach was constantly growling, but then around day 3 my hunger completely went away, and I actually started to feel more energetic than normal, then something totally unexpected happened...

I never wore glasses before, but I was always unable to view things up-close without them looking blurry, and on the 5th day of my fast my eyes started burning and on day 7 they not only stopped burning but I could suddenly see things up-close without them looking blurry.

During my week-long "fast" from food, my vision got upgraded to high-definition, and I couldn't stop looking at the walls in my apartment which had been pained with curving swivel brush strokes, or the ceiling that had a strange random texture, or even the wooden floors which had tree rings in their patterns.

I never appreciated how beautiful my apartment was before, because I had only been able to see my apartment as "small", but now that my vision had improved, and now that I was starting to embrace "minimalism", I loved the little apartment that I had!

SHOPLIFTERS

"Sears" would get a lot of shoplifters, and I was the only male employee who refused to try to stop them.

Other male employees would get a HUGE thrill out of confronting shoplifters, and I can't even begin to count the number of times that a male co-worker would come up to me looking all excited and whisper "Hey, you see that customer over there? He's stealing! Come on, let's go wait for him outside!"

The problem with this, was that we were all told by management that if we saw a customer stealing, we were supposed to call "Loss Prevention" (the security guards who were usually in the back of the store watching the surveillance cameras, and who were actually being paid to stop shoplifters) and let them deal with it.

And we were also told that we should NEVER get involved physically (or even verbally) with a shoplifter, because if we choose to get involved and we end up getting injured, "Sears" wouldn't pay for our medical bills, and if we choose to get involved and we end up injuring the shoplifter, the shoplifter could sue us and the company!

But all of my male co-workers would completely ignore these rules and insist on taking matters into their own hands whenever they spotted a shoplifter, and although stealing is wrong, I have to admit that sometimes when I would see a customer stealing from "Sears" I would actually kind of route for them a little...

For example, we had a big riding lawnmower on display in the "lawn care aisle", and one day a male customer snuck a can of gasoline into the store and put it into the lawnmower. Then he got on the lawnmower and drove it right out of the store, and even though the lawnmower was extremely loud, because of how understaffed we were that day, nobody even noticed it except me.

He ended up making it to the parking lot and was going to just drive it to back to his house with it, but unfortunately, a bunch of testosterone crazed male co-workers who were outside taking a "smoke break" spotted him and tackled him in the parking lot.

I kind of wanted to see him get away with it, just because it would mean that any time he was alone with someone and they couldn't think of anything to talk about, he could always just tell them about the time he stole a riding lawnmower from "Sears" by literally just walking into the store and driving off with it. (I mean, what an incredible "ice breaker"!)

SCARY NEW BOSS

One day a bunch of really important people from corporate showed up for a surprise visit, and they were furious when they found out that I was the only employee in the store and that the store looked as bad as it did.

Although they were all wearing expensive suits, they ended up helping me do the menial tasks that the employees who didn't show up to work the day would normally do, such as stocking shelves, rounding up carts, and sweeping the floors.

It was also raining that day and there were several leaks in the ceiling, so I mentioned to them how the leaks had been there since I started working there over a year ago.

The people from corporate were so upset about everything that they decided to fire one of the managers named "Brian" who was supposed to be there that day, and replace him with a controversial new manager named "Marvin" to put a stop to all of the nonsense...

"Marvin" was a big black man who was about 3 times my size, and as legend had it, he used to be a professional bodybuilder, but one day he was attempting to squat 1,000 pounds and he blew out both of his knees, so he was forced to retire from professional bodybuilding. Then he became a "bouncer" at a strip club, but one night he got shot 5 times by a guy who he had roughed up and thrown out of the club, so he was forced to retire from "bouncing" too. And now he was the manager of the "Home & Garden" section at "Sears".

"Marvin" was a very intimidating man, and he seemed to have something personal against me. One day he came up to me and accusingly asked me, "How come every time a black customer comes down your aisle you leave?" I asked him what he meant, and he said that he had been watching me since he started working there, and that he noticed that any time a black person came down my aisle I would look really scared and walk away.

The truth was, that I actually would get really scared and walk away anytime I saw a black customer, but it had nothing to do with the fact that the customer was black. I was just really shy and nervous around people in general, and because most of the customers where I worked were black and I happened to be white, it just "appeared" as though I was scared of black people.

"Marvin" would yell at me a lot (and often in front of customers) and he would also act flirtatious around "Shamaya", so I really wished that he wasn't there.

THE PROMOTION

One day I came to work and heard the news that "Marvin" had just gotten fired for chasing down a shoplifter and beating them up in the parking lot. I felt so happy and relieved to know that I would never have to work with him again, and then the people from corporate returned to the store with even better news for me...

They told me that they because they had just fired "Marvin" they needed to replace him, and that since I seemed to be the only dependable employee that the store had, I could have his job if I wanted it, and I would be able to go from making $6.00 an hour to $22.00 an hour!

I was so excited that I instantly said, "Yes" because it meant that for the first time in my life, I would have a job that I wasn't embarrassed to tell people about.

I could actually tell people that I was a "manager". (Sure, I would still be embarrassed to say that I was a manager at "Sears" since everyone knew that "Sears" was losing millions of dollars a year and was heading for bankruptcy, but I could still proudly tell people that I was a "manager" and just hope that nobody asked, "Where at?")

Taking on a managerial position would mean that I would be expected to work a lot more hours and be expected to give up almost all of my free time, but the title "manager" sounded so prestigious, and the thought that "Shamaya" might actually date me now that I was no longer just a "clerk" was so seducing, that the temptation was too strong for me to overcome.

The people from corporate told me that due to time restraints they wouldn't have much time to train me, and that I would kind of have to learn as I was going by working closely with "Shamaya". (Which I of course was thrilled about.) They then asked me to take a walk with them around the "Home & Garden" section, and they would let me know what I should do on my first day in charge.

As we were walking the department, we walked past an employee named "Manny" and the people from corporate pulled me aside and whispered, "We've had numerous complaints from customers about "Manny" over there because he has really strong body odor! Plus, his hair is always messy, and his clothes usually have stains on them, so we're going to need you to have a little talk with him today about his "personal hygiene"."

Then they handed me a piece of paper that I had to get "Manny" to sign, which said that he had been talked to about his hygiene and that he promised to start showing up to work in a more presentable fashion. Then they told me that they were going to the office upstairs to talk to "Shamaya" and to meet them upstairs with the signed paperwork as soon as I finished having the talk with "Manny".

I never felt more uncomfortable in my life as I very nervously walked over to "Manny". (I knew that if I told him he smelled bad it would be awkward every single time that we ever saw each other in the future.) And as I got closer to him, I thought to myself, "Oh man, he really does smell bad!!!".

When he saw me approaching him he got a big smile on his face and shouted "Boss Man!" and then he asked me, "So how does it feel to be the big man in charge?" and I just put on a fake smile and told him, "Oh, It's going pretty well so far." and then I said, "Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?" and he said, "Sure what's up?" and I told him...

"I just want to tell you that you..................................."

There was then a really long and awkward silence, because I just couldn't bring myself to say "stink" or "smell bad", or "need to take a bath", so I instead just said,

"I just want to tell you that you..............................are doing a very good job, and I just wanted to ask you to please keep up the good work for me."

I then turned and walked away from him, and I just kept on walking right out of the store and never came back, because I was simply too uncomfortable to tell him that he smelled bad, and I was also too scared to go upstairs and tell the people from corporate that I couldn't do what they asked me to even though they had just given me this promotion 8 minutes ago, and risk having them yell at me in front of "Shamaya".

So it was considered "job abandonment" and I was fired, but it made me stop and think that perhaps I was wrong for judging "Marvin" and so many of my other bosses over the years as being "mean", considering that "Manny" probably would have thought that I was "mean" if I had told him that he stunk, and the other employees would have thought that I was "mean" if I was the manager and I started punishing them for being late or for being on their phones when they were supposed to be working, even though I was just doing what I was told and trying to avoid punishment myself.



6.
"UNEMPLOYMENT"


Due to the fact that I had accumulated an embarrassing resume and had basically become "unhireable", I spent a while being unemployed and not sure what to do next.

I had a neighbor who would go outside to smoke a lot, which meant that if I wanted to go outside I would have to peek out my window first to make sure that he wasn't outside smoking, because he was so talkative and I was so polite that it would be hard for me to get away from him once he started talking.

I'm not even sure what his real name was, but he insisted that everyone call him "Cowboy" and he looked like a cowboy as well. He was from "Texas" and would wear a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and a belt buckle that was so big that it reminded me of a pro-wrestling championship belt.

One day I stepped outside to get my mail, and just as I walked outside so did "Cowboy", so as soon as he saw me he started talking to me, and after a few minutes of this he invited me to come inside his apartment. I didn't want to go in, but because he talked so loudly I imagined that if we kept talking outside the neighbors would be secretly watching us through their window blinds, so I agreed to go in his apartment.

His apartment was basically a shrine to the "Wild West". He had lots of posters of the actor "John Wayne" on the walls, real cactuses growing in pots, and a large collection of western rifles and pistols.

I then noticed that he had a bunch of professional wrestling video tapes, so I asked him about it and he said that he was the world's biggest pro-wrestling fan. (But when he said the word "wrestling" he pronounced it "wrastlin".) Then he asked me if I liked wrestling and I said, "yeah" just to be a polite guest and because I was a bit intimidated by all the guns in his apartment.

He then asked me who my favorite wrestler was, and I froze up because the only time that I had ever seen wrestling was way back when I was a kid whenever I would visit my grandparents. (My grandparents had cable television and my grandpa was a wrestling fan.)

I could remember watching wrestling with my grandpa a few times as a kid and being amazed at the size of wrestlers like "Hulk Hogan" and "Andre the Giant", but I also remember thinking that it would be super embarrassing to admit that you were a "pro wrestling fan" to a non-wrestling fan back then they would think that you believed wrestling was real and that you were gulible.

I also remembered that when I watched wrestling with my grandpa on Saturday mornings, it would mostly just be hype to get the viewers to call in and order the big upcoming "Pay-Per-View" events, and the announcers would say things like, "Call your local cable company and tell them that you're a "Hulkamaniac", and that you want to watch "Hulk Hogan" battle "The Macho Man" live in your living room!" and I would just be thinking to myself "Oh my God, it would be so embarrassing to call the local cable company and tell them that!!!"

So I just told "Cowboy" that I preferred the wrestling from back when I was a kid, and that I hadn't really been watching any current stuff, and he told me that I didn't know what I was missing, and that I should watch "Smack Down" later that week on Thursday night, so just to be a polite guest I told him that I would even though I had no intention to actually watch it.

After a few more hours of listening to him talk (mostly about pro-wrestling) and not being able to get away from him, it was starting to get dark outside, so I told him that I had to wake up really early the next morning and I was finally able to get out of there!

THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE

Since I needed help finding a job, I went to the "Unemployment Agency" one Friday, and after almost 2 hours of waiting in a long line it was finally my turn, but as soon as I walked up to the desk to be interviewed I heard a loud and familiar voice enter the building, so I turned around and saw that my neighbor "Cowboy" had just walked in the building and he was standing at the end of the line and talking to everyone as if he had known them for years.

I quickly turned my head back around and started silently praying that he wouldn't see me because of how loudly he talked and how loudly he dressed, and because of the fact that I was an extreme "introvert" and he was an extreme "extrovert"!

But then spotted me and shouted my name loudly across the building...

Because he was shouting my name so loudly, the whole building became silent and started staring at, so I slowly turned around and gave him a forced a smile and a nervous wave, and then in front of everyone he enthusiastically tugged at his belt and shouted, "OH MAN, DID YOU WATCH "SMACK DOWN" LAST NIGHT???"

I cringed with embarrassment over the fact that everyone in the building now believed that I was a pro-wrestling fan!

I was so embarrassed that even though I had just started to be interviewed, I got up and quickly walked out of the building while using one hand to pull my shirt up high enough that nobody could see my face, and while using my other hand to try to pull and stretch my shirt back down enough so that nobody could see my belly button.

But because I was pulling my shirt so hard in opposite directions, my shirt ripped completely in half!

Because I was suddenly shirtless in front of everyone, I instinctually tried to tense my muscles so that I would at least look muscular, and then I started to really flex and pose while yelling, "Whatcha gonna do, when Hulkamania runs wild on you!!!" (just so everyone would think that I ripped my shirt on purpose) but then I realized that it just made me look like a wrestling fan who even other wrestling fans would find embarrassing, so I quickly ran out there!

Now that the people who worked at the unemployment agency had seen me do that, I was of course way too embarrassed to go back to them for help, so I had no idea what to do next...

MUSIC

I'm too embarrassed to admit what kind of music I listen to. (In fact, my biggest fear about death is that when I die someone will go through my personal belongings and discover my music collection, and then I'll have to spend eternity rolling over in my grave out of embarrassment!)

There was a "Target" store near my apartment that was opened 24 hours a day, and I would go there late at night just to avoid people. Plus, they also had a "U-Scan" checkout which meant that I could buy "embarrassing" things without feeling embarrassed about it.

But one night I went to "Target", and as soon as I walked in the door there was a man standing at the front door who startled me by saying "Hello" to me, and I noticed that on his shirt he had a name badge that said "Professional Greeter". (Which meant that the store had actually hired someone just to make "small talk" with people as they entered and exited the building!)

All I wanted was to buy a CD, but after I got through the awkward "Hello" from the greeter, I was so uncomfortable about the thought of having to say "Goodbye" to him on the way out of the store that I started walking around and searching for another way out of the store.

I spotted a door on the side of the building that said, "EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY", so after I bought the CD, I started walking towards the door, but then I heard someone yell, "STOP RIGHT THERE!" so I turned around and saw was a police officer approaching me while asking, "DO YOU HAVE A RECEIPT FOR THAT?"

And although I had a receipt, I was way too embarrassed to let him see the CD that I had purchased, so I quickly stuffed the CD down my pants and then I pushed the door opened, which resulted in a loud alarm going off, and then I ran out the exit door as if I had just stolen something.

The cop chased me through the parking lot, and down the street until I ran into a forest on the side of the road.

Because it was late at night the forest was pitch black, but before you knew it several police cars showed up and the forest became illuminated with the colors blue and red, and the flashing police lights caused me to have a seizure.

When I finally regained consciousness, I was in a hospital and a doctor was asking me what happened. So I told him exactly what happened, and he then sent me to a psychiatrist named "Linda" who interviewed me several times over the following month, and after hearing my life story she said that I had such an extreme case of "social anxiety" and that I may be eligible for government assistance.

She told me that the money wouldn't much, but because I had become a "minimalist" it was actually more than enough money for me to live on, and I was able to move to a small house in a small town to be more alone, and I realized that I could now devote all my time to art as long as everyone continued to believe that there was something wrong with me.

When I was being interviewed by the psychiatrist, I was shown a lot of inkblots, and I was so inspired by them that I made my own inkblots at home, and I wallpapered my entire house with them for artistic inspiration.

And in addition to the disability checks I also got a "handicapped parking permit" to hang on my car so that everyone would know that I was handicapped. But since I didn't have a car, I made a necklace in the shape of a handicapped symbol and I wore it so that everyone would know that I was handicapped (so the disability checks would keep coming) and to remind myself that it was by embracing what others felt was a disability I was given the ability to do the work that I was truly meant to do.



The artist known as "Elbow" pictured above and below in his ink-blot test wallpapered house.


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