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 a lot 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 be independent.

I did some "job hunting" and found out that there was a new mall that was being built, and they were going to be having a big "job fair" where anyone who was interested in working at the mall could show up and apply, so I decided to go to it.

About 100 other people showed up to the "job fair" looking for a job, 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, at least a dozen people stood up and walked out, because they were on drugs and they knew there was no way that they would pass the test, and I almost got up and walked out too... (Not because I did drugs, but because I have "bladder shyness", and I was afraid that I would have trouble peeing in 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 your name got called, you 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 you a cup with your name on it, then you 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 when they called my name, I nervously stood up, walked over to get my cup, and then I went into the bathroom and tried to pee, but 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 I could think of to make myself pee...

- I turned the sink on to mimic the sound of urination.

- I closed my eyes and tried to imagine a waterfall.

- I put my free hand just below my belly button and started finger drumming over my bladder while silently humming to give my urine some epic theme music to come out to.

But none of this was helping, so I then tried putting my hand in the sink and running some warm water over it, and finally, after several minutes of doing this, 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 the man 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.

I then heard the large man from behind the door yell...

"ARE YOU OK IN THERE BUDDY???"

So I nervously shouted back to him...

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

I then heard several of the other people outside the door laugh 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 I was so incredibly tense that I couldn't do it.

And 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 started pounding on the door and startled me, but I frantically started searching all over the bathroom for it and couldn't find it anywhere.

* The lid was in my pocket, but in the same way that 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 stressed out I was!

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 then everyone else who was being drug tested would laugh at me, and 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 is he doing in there???"

And then I heard a comment that would haunt me for years to come...

A woman (who judging by her gravelly voice was middle aged and smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day) said, "Any man who needs this much time to pee in a cup can't find the little guy!"

As soon as she said it everyone burst out laughing, 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 just like I had peed my pants!

Then the man started pounding on the door again, but this time I was so embarrassed that I was unable to 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 didn't even bother looking for another job, because it seemed that every job at the time required a drug test, and it seemed like 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 he smoked marijuana regularly, and he just needed some of my "clean urine" to pass the drug test.

He then showed me a special bag that he had purchased that 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 doesn'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 "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"!



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 giant "Super Center" ones which sold over 100,000 different items!

But when I first started working there, I 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 51", 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!

But I want to stress that I wasn't "stealing time" when I would hide from customers in the bathroom at work, because as a "Walmart" employee, I was supposed to be given two 15-minute breaks every day, and 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 though, and I actually managed to have a lot of fun during my time working there.

Because I was constantly getting asked where random things were located, as a joke I drew a really detailed map of the store and I put a big red "X" 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 finally 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 was so excited that someone was finally asking me where the blow driers were that I quickly reached into my back pocket and 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.)

So I stared back at him and carefully observed the way that he looked and dressed until I had a photographic memory of what he looked like in my mind, and then we continued to stare at each other until he finally got uncomfortable and just walked away.

The next day he showed up at the store again, and it was obvious that he still wanted to know how I did what I did, because he walked up to me and said, "Excuse me, but I just wanted to thank you for your help yesterday when I couldn't find the blow driers." and then he just stood there quietly as if he was anxiously waiting to see what I would say in response...

I then reached into my back pocket and handed him another piece of paper, and I once again walked away without saying a word...

* I had fully expected him to return, so the paper that I gave him this time was a very 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 black truck pulled up to the pump next to me. When the driver got out of the black truck I realized that it was the customer who had asked me about the blow driers, and as soon as he saw me he gave me a casual nod at first, but then he suddenly realized that it was me, and his eyes got really big, and he quickly jumped back into his truck and sped off!

Because he was a lot bigger than I was, it made me realize that I had the power to scare people if I really wanted to.

THE LADDER INCIDENT

The "Walmart" that I worked at was so big 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.

The problem with this was that 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 to actually climb the ladder and get it down for them.

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, and I told her, "Sure, just let me go find a ladder." I then ran around the store looking for another employee who could get it down for her, but every employee that I saw was either talking to a customer or talking to another employee, and because of how shy I was, I was too uncomfortable to just walk up and interrupt anyone's conversation.

I was also terrified of public speaking, so I couldn't just get on the store intercom and announce over the loudspeakers that a customer needed assistance in the bicycle aisle either.

I didn't want to keep the woman waiting (and because she was so beautiful, I didn't want her to know that I wasn't allowed to use a ladder) so I decided to take matters into my own hands...

I didn't see any of the managers around, so I went to the back and dragged out a big ladder, then I set it up under the bicycle that she wanted, and I began climbing the ladder to get it myself. (I was scared of heights, but I really wanted to impress her, so I just kept climbing, and I just told myself not to look down.)

When I finally made it all the way to the top shelf I grabbed the bicycle that she wanted, but then I heard her yell up to me, "Could you grab the other bike next to that one." so I looked down to ask her if she wanted the bike that was to the left or to the right, and 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 respond to her question.

Once the lady realized that I was scared, she felt really bad for me, and she yelled up to me, "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 was about to try 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... "What the hell are you 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 few minutes later a really big security guard showed up and had to climb up the ladder to try to "talk me down".

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 jerked 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 about it, and he told me, "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, 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 life. And to make matters worse, I then looked down at the beautiful woman who I had tried so hard to impress, 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 started yelling up to me that I had better come back down, because there was no way that I 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 will do is take your "mug shot", then they will "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 years..."

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, for people like me who are "camera shy", just the thought of having to get your "mug shot" taken was already enough intimidation to keep us "scared straight" and out of jail.)

When I finally made it 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 felt so sorry for me that they demanded that the manager "Mark" not fire me over it, and they even promised to never shop there again if he did, so he reluctantly agreed to let me keep my job.

It was a miracle that I kept my job, but I wanted to quit over how embarrassed I was about the incident. 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 "stuck" and unable to quit at the time.



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.

As soon as I heard this statistic, I immediately said 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 where things are purposely designed to break down or become obsolete shortly after purchasing them, so that people will throw them away and have to purchase newer versions of them.)

I also noticed that people were being socially 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, and new phones were getting smaller. So if you owned a big TV and a small phone, you were cool, but if you owned a small TV and a big phone, you were being conditioned to feel 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 loyal consumers.

For example, there were cat litter boxes being sold at "Walmart" 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 had "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 complete privacy.

"Walmart" also sold clothing for dogs, and I knew that if we started training dogs to wearing clothes, it would ultimately lead to dogs becoming too embarrassed to even go outside to bark at the mailman if they didn't have any clothes on.

And if you don't believe that dogs would ever get embarrassed, all you have to do is go on-line and type in "guilty dog videos", and you will see plenty of examples of how dogs (who used to be wild wolves) have learned the emotion of "shame" from living with humans and seeing their human owners embarrassing themselves and feeling ashamed about it.



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 looking guy 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 opened a jar of peanut butter and scooped out a big handful of it, then he stuffed the handful of peanut butter into one of his pants pockets and quickly walked out of 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. He was holding a really small bottle of "Elmer's Glue" in his hand , and he asked me for my assistance. I asked him what he needed, 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.

A few minutes later, I 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 held the hamburger buns up to my face and shouted, "This is horse shit, and you know it!"

I immediately burst out laughing because he was cussing, and 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 the paramedics, but as soon as I got up I looked down and saw my lifeless body still laying on the ground.

So I freaked out and turned to some customers who were standing right next to me and asked them, "WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HAPPENING?" 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 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 unfortunately the first thing that the paramedics did to my lifeless body was take the shirt off of it so they could perform CPR, and I felt super embarrassed over the fact that everyone was seeing me with my shirt off, so I ran out of the building to get as far away from my half naked dead body as possible!

But once I got outside, I heard some shouting behind me so I turned around and saw that the spirit of the angry old man was coming straight at me with a vengeance, so I kept running to get away from him.

The old man chased me out of the parking lot and down the road, and as we ran past people's houses, I kept having to jump over piles of merchandise from "Walmart" that was piled up along the side of the road and waiting for the garbage trucks to come along and haul it to the dump.

I kept running, and the old man ended up chasing me all across America, and in every city there were small mountains of merchandise from "Walmart" that was still in good condition, but that was piled up and waiting for the garbage trucks.

I was running as fast as I could, but the old man kept getting closer and closer!

I then looked ahead and saw that we were about to reach the edge of "California", so instead of turning left or turning right, I kept running straight towards the water, and when I finally reached the edge of the shore, I made a big running leap, and I jumped all the way across the Ocean and landed 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 street signs which appeared to be written in Chinese, so I figured that I must be in China.

I started walking down the dark street, and it must have been really late at night, because I didn't see another person anywhere, and none of the houses that I saw had any lights on. But then I noticed a building with a dim light shining through the windows and a strange mechanical noise emanating 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, but even though it was late at night, some of the people who were working there were young children who were still in diapers!

Then I looked more closely and noticed that the adult workers were wearing diapers too.

As a matter of 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 that everyone was wearing a diaper, was because they were being forced to work extremely long hours, and they weren't even allowed to take bathroom breaks.

These poor and exploited people had to work in these conditions 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" I felt a lot of sympathy for these people. (And I even 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 could tell that the fact that 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.

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

They chased me through the streets of China, and we 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 Chinese people in diapers.

I kept running until I reached the edge of China, and I once again made a big running leap and leaped across many time zones, so it was now daylight again, but instead of landing in another country, this time I simply landed in the middle of the ocean!

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

I didn't know how to swim, so I grabbed some empty "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 a lot younger and a lot less compassionate towards smaller life forms, I was doomed!

I got sucked in and flushed downward into the ocean, and as I sunk deeper and deeper, a giant whale suddenly came up to me and swallowed me whole!

I was still alive, but I was inside of 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 to see what it was, and I could tell by the feel of the object that it was a flashlight. So I turned it on, and I could 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 browse through it all, but then it suddenly hit me that all of the junk that was inside the whale's stomach was actually all of the junk that I had bought for my apartment to impress a woman someday.

Then me and all of my material possessions suddenly started spinning around in circles like clothes in a dryer, and when the tumbling finally stopped, I had lost the flashlight and was once again in total darkness, but it didn't matter, because moments later a bright light in the distance suddenly came on and reilluminated the inside of the whale.

I got up and walked towards the light to see what it was, until I realized that the whale's mouth was wide opened and it was sunlight that was coming through, so I stepped out of the whale's 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, and the reason that everything inside the whale had started tumbling was because the whale had been tumbling as it got washed ashore.

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

Then I heard a loud beeping sound approaching, so I turned around to see what it was, and I saw 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 that what I had invisioned was just a dream. (Although I couldn't help but feel that the environmental nightmare that I envisioned was really happening somewhere out there.)

Because everyone at "Walmart" had seen me with my shirt off when the paramedics were trying to revive me, I definitely couldn't go back to work there again, so I simply abandoned my job and started searching for a new one, and deep down I felt that I should try to find one 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 it made me feel 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. (As if they hoped that customers would just put it in their cart without even knowing or caring what it cost.)

But of course, a lot of customers would want to know how much these expensive items cost, so sometimes they would ask me, and when I would tell them the actual price was, 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.

I dread having to be the "bearer of bad tidings", so 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 would be for a doctor to have to break the news to one of their patients that they have cancer!

So 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 millionaire. (Hence the nickname "Whole Paycheck" that I would have to hear multiple times a day whenever I had to run a cash register and I had to be the one to tell people how much their total was.)

Because of how expensive everything was, I did my shopping at a store across the street called "Trader Joes". (Which also sold health food, but at a much lower cost.) But I couldn't help but notice that any time I shopped there, customers would keep coming up to me and asking if I worked there. So after a while I started asking people why they thought I would work there and they would just say, "You just look like you would work here." So then I started to look at myself in the mirror and wonder why people would think that I worked at "Trader Joes", and then one day it occurred to me that all of the male employees at this particular "Trader Joes" appeared to be gay. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it made me wonder if the reason people kept assuming that I worked at "Trader Joes" was because they also assumed that I was gay.)

Then one day I was shopping at "Trader Joes", and when I walked into one of the aisles I was shocked to see my boss from "Whole Foods" "Dave" in the aisle, so I quickly turned and tried to walk away before he could see me, but it was too late...

He had seen me, and as I was walking away he called my name, so I slowly turned around and saw him looking at me in disbelief, and then he asked me in a voice of great disappointment, "What are you doing here?"

I wasn't sure what to say, so I curiously asked him, "What are YOU doing here?" and he told me, "I'm just here to keep track of the prices of our nearest and biggest competitor."

Then he looked down at my shopping cart full of stuff, put his hands on his hips, and told me, "If you would like to keep working for me, then I suggest that you stop supporting our competition!" So I put my head down in shame and started putting everything that was in my cart back on the shelves, and then I left the store.

SIGN ARTIST

One of the things that I liked about working at "Whole Foods", was that because I was an artist the managers let me draw all of the decorative signs in the store. (Instead of using normal printed signs like other stores did, "Whole Foods" would use chalkboards and colored chalk to create unique and artistic signs throughout their stores.)

But after getting caught shopping at "Trader Joes", "Dave" started to say that the signs I was making were "strange" and made no sense, and he started putting restrictions on what I could and couldn't do with signs.

One time I had 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 ridiculously expensive. (One of them was from Brazil and cost over $600!)

"Dave" told me not to go crazy with the pickle sign, and to simply write "Imported Pickles" and not draw anything. So I agreed to make the sign, but because the pickles were so expensive, I wrote the word "Important" instead of "Imported" as a joke, so that the sign said "Important Pickles".

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 saw 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 are some really "important" pickles.")

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

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 sirens and people yelling outside. So I got out of bed and looked out the window to see what was going on, and I realized that my apartment building was on fire!

Luckily firefighters showed up pretty quickly, and the police also showed up and started pounding on everyone's doors and shouting that everyone had to evacuate immediately.

The fire was spreading and was getting closer to my part of the building, so I knew that I only had a few minutes to get out of my apartment if I were to escape, but then I looked out the window and saw a "CHANNEL 8 NEWS" van pull into the apartment parking lot.

I then watched in horror as several camera men jumped out of the news van and started filming the fire, and then a really beautiful female news 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 of the fire, so I felt trapped in my apartment, and I wasn't sure what to do...

WHAT TO WEAR???

As the fire raged on, and the temperature in my apartment started to increase, my desire to live also started to increase, and 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 on some clothes 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 know that someone was in my apartment (including the camera men and the beautiful reporter) and I definitely didn't want the attention that it could bring.

I was too afraid to just put on a random shirt without knowing exactly which one it was, 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 television AND that a beautiful woman was going to be talking to me!

The nicest shirts I owned were my "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 the beautiful reporter knew that I worked at "Whole Foods" she might start interrogating me about the embarrassing "Asparagus Water Scandal" on live television!
br> It then occurred to me that because I was a male I could technically just go outside without a shirt on, but I simply didn't have the confidence to do that.

I then looked out the window again and noticed that some 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. (And they didn't even try to cover up their chests or anything whenever the beautiful reporter would walk up to one of them and start interviewing them!)

I then thought about "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 without a shirt on will probably not go on to reproduce anyways!

Then my apartment started to fill up with smoke and I was 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 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 I could leave my apartment without everyone looking at me...

But unfortunately, she didn't 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 went dead due to the fire, and 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 and started pounding on my apartment door while yelling...

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

But I was too afraid to open the door, so I said nothing and acted like I wasn't home, but he must have known I was there because 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 took me outside and carried me 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 due to how ticklish I was) and of course everyone was staring at me!

When we got to the bottom of the steps he set me down on the ground, and luckily another fire fighter came running over to me with a big gray fire blanket, and he wrapped it around me so that only my head was showing. Then the beautiful female reporter came running over to interview me, so I quickly ducked my head down into the blanket to hide 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 I heard the sound of her high heel shoes walking away from me across the pavement.

Once I was sure that she was gone, 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!

CALLING OFF WORK

I was supposed to be at work later that morning, and luckily a neighbor was nice enough to let me use their cellphone so I could call my boss "Dave" and let him know that I was going to be really late that day. But when I called his house a man answered the phone and said that "Dave" was asleep. (And I'm guessing that the man who answered the phone was "Dave's" boyfriend or something, because he was talking in a very feminine sounding voice, and he also sounded very upset that I was trying to talk to "Dave" and asked me in a very accusatory woman's voice how I got "Dave's" number and what I was doing trying to call him in the middle of the night!

So I explained to him that I was just one of "Dave's" employees, and that I was just calling to let him know that there was a big fire, and before I could explain any further he interrupted me by freaking out and frantically shouting, "Oh my goodness! A fire? Were any MEN hurt???"

Because he emphasized the word "MEN" so much, I had to put my hand over the phone just so that he wouldn't hear me laugh, but I guess that I accidentally hit a button that caused the call to end, and because I worried that he might have heard me laughing at him, I figured that I better wait a few hours before calling back, so that "Dave" would hopefully be awake and would answer instead.

But when I tried calling back a few hours later, not only was "Dave" awake, but he was furious at me and demanding to know why I had called his house in the middle of the night claiming that "Whole Foods" was on fire.

I told him that I never said "Whole Foods" was on fire, but he said that his "partner" claimed I did, and that not only did he have to wake up early and rush to "Whole Foods" for nothing, but that he had also called the police and fire department to come to "Whole Foods" for nothing as well!

So I tried to explain to him that when I had told his "partner" that there was a fire, I was about to tell him that it was my apartment that was on fire, but we got disconnected, so he then asked me why I didn't just call right back instead of waiting a few hours to call again, and I simply couldn't bring myself to tell him the truth (that his "partner's" voice was cracking me up) so I just told him, "I don't know." and he told me, "You know what, there may not have been a "fire" at "Whole Foods", but you're "FIRED"" from "Whole Foods"!!!"

OUT OF THE ASHES

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

But instead of getting angry or depressed about it, I viewed the fire as the beginning of a new chapter in my life. (And as a sign that it was time for me to find a new place to live, since I had appeared on the local news that day in my underwear!)

When I was finally allowed to go back inside of what was left of my apartment, all of my material possessions that I had bought (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 based on the kind of places that I was used to shopping at, I imagined that 13 dollars wouldn't even be enough to buy a decent shirt. However, one of my neighbors named "Edward" (who I ended up having no choice but to meet due to the fire, and who I ended up enjoying talking to) told me that there was a "thrift store" across the street where I could find lots of really inexpensive clothes.

I had never been to a "thrift store" before, and all I knew was that it was a store that sold used clothes, so I guess that I had always assumed that the clothes at a "thrift store" would be really old and raggedy looking, and that the only people who would shop at a place like that were 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 with just a blanket wrapped around me, and what I found was nothing short of amazing...

The "thrift store" was full of "slightly used" clothing that still looked brand new to me, and that cost practically nothing! And as I walked around the store, I kept looking at the price tags in disbelief and telling myself that I would never go to the mall and buy brand new clothes ever again!

With the 13 dollars that I had I was able to buy a really professional looking business suit, which I wore it 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", and on the morning of my very first day of work, I pulled into the parking lot and started walking towards the front door of the building. But as I was approaching the door, there was an old man in front of me who was also walking towards the door, and he was walking a lot slower than I was, 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 to be nice.

* 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 two 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 patiently for me at the door.

Then I pretended that one of my shoelaces was untied, and I bent down and acted like I was tying my shoe. And after about a minute of fidgeting with my shoelaces, I looked back up and couldn't believe that he was still standing there waiting for me! (But now he now looked a bit impatient, as if he could tell that I was trying to avoid him!)

So I stood back up and tried my best to start walking toward the door, 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 back toward the parking lot, and I looked at him in disbelief too, because I honestly had no clue what I was doing either!

I didn't want him to think that I was trying to avoid him, so I put my hands in my pocket and started feeling around with a confused look on my face as if I had forgotten my wallet or something, and then I turned around and ran back to my car hoping thing he would think that I had forgotten something important.

Once I was in my car, I started pretending that I was searching for something in my glove compartment, and after spending a few minutes or so just staring into an empty glove compartment 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 screamed and frantically 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 because of the incident, AND he was really mad at me because I had 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.

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

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

"MOM MY BALLS HURT!!!"

I was so shocked that the boy had actually 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 actually 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 must have lived a very sheltered life growing up!" and then he added, "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 to schedule an appointment for something like that 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 he called his mother in front of everyone, 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, bye Mom!


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!

PERFUME AND COLOGNE

Although the office building had lots of windows, they were never opened, and the temperature inside was completely controlled by air conditioning and electric heating. Because of this, the office was airtight, and 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" they thought their perfume smelled!

Deep down I wanted to finally 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 also 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!)

SITTING ALL DAY

Because I was always on my feet and moving around at my previous jobs, I found sitting in a chair for 8 hours a day to be extremely difficult. (And it seemed that I was only one in the office who felt this way, because everyone else would show up to work on Mondays and be practically bragging about how they spent their entire weekend just sitting in front of their TV watching movies, playing video games, or "binge watching" entire seasons of certain TV shows.)

I lived within easy walking distance from work, and because of how tired I was of constantly sitting, I actually started walking to work instead of driving just to avoid "sitting in traffic". And I noticed that it actually didn't take me that much longer to walk to work than it did to drive because of all the traffic stops, and I also noticed that I would show up to work feeling more awake and more energetic if I walked instead of drove.

I started to really enjoy walking to work, and because I lived within easy walking distance of all of the other important places that I would go to like the grocery store, the bank, and the thrift store, I started to consider just getting rid of my car altogether.

But when I told my male co-workers about this idea, they all told me that no woman would want to date a guy who didn't have a car, so I got scared and decided to keep my car and stop walking.

I felt that I was wasting a lot of money by having a car and paying for car insurance every month when I didn't really "need" to drive, and something else that seemed incredibly wasteful to me was the fact that 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 impressed about it until someone in the office would get an "even newer" car.

I really wanted to get rid of my car and just walk, but I had become too embarrassed to be seen walking.

Then one day I thought of a simple idea to not have to sit for 8 hours a day at work. I took some boxes of paper from the "supply room" and put them on top of my work desk, then I put my computer monitor and keyboard on top of the boxes, and because they were now high enough that I could stand while typing.

I felt so happy that I would no longer have to spend 8 hours a day sitting, but unfortunately the fact that I was the only person in the office who was standing resulted in a lot of strange looks, and some of my co-workers would even complain about it by telling me that just seeing me standing was making their legs feel tired.

Eventually enough people complained about it, that my boss told me I had to sit down like everyone else, because just the sight of me standing all day was too much for my sedentary co-workers to handle.

I was so upset about not being allowed to stand up at work, that when I got home I immediately grabbed the one chair that I had in my apartment, and I took it across the street to the local thrift store and donated it. (Because I was so sick of having to sit for 40 hours a week at work that I didn't even want to look at a chair when I wasn't at work.)

And when I went to work the next morning and told one of my male co-workers about how I didn't even have a chair in my apartment anymore, he burst out laughing and told me "Dude, you're going to be a virgin forever!!!"

SENSITIVE CAR ALARM

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

I worked on the 6th 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 the trash can near my desk and noticed that a co-worker had thrown away a "McDonalds" french fry carton that still had some french fries in it. So I took one of the french fries and quietly opened the window just a crack, and then I secretly threw the french fry at "John's" car to see if a french fry would make his car alarm go off...

When the french fry hit his car it actually did make his car 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 hilarious, but I also thought it was kind of scary to think that all it took was a french fry to literally make everyone in the office stop what they were doing and act as if their lives might be over, and it made me want to get rid of my car even more!

THE HALLWAY OF DOOM

Sometimes I would have to use the copy machine at work, and it 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 wouldn't know what in the world to say.

I simply couldn't take these pointless and uncomfortable 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.

But then 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, 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 she was walking towards me from behind.

I looked back and forth at both of these two large women who I was way too uncomfortable to interact with (and didn't want to smell) approaching me from opposite directions and I realized that I was trapped!

It made me think of the "bridge scene" in the movie "The Temple of Doom" when "Indian Jones" was standing in the middle of a really 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.

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

So 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 an imaginary sword, and then I slammed my arms down and pulled the emergency fire alarm lever that was on the wall in front of me, and the fire alarm went off!

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

So I jumped over "Roxanne" and ran back down the hall, and since I knew full well that I was going to be fired over the incident, I went ahead and just kept running out of the building and back to the parking lot, never to return!

As soon as I got in my car, I took one last look at the office and saw that my boss had just came outside and was running towards me to finally fire me, so I once again sped off and left another huge set of tire streaks in his parking lot!

I drove away as fast as I could, and I was so scared that he was going to get in his car and follow me that I kept speeding until I hit a patch of ice on the road, which caused my car to start spinning out of control, and I slamming into a guardrail!

Luckily, I wasn't injured, but my car was really banged up, and when the police showed up, they deemed my car to be "unsafe to drive", so they called a "Tow Truck" for me.

When the "Tow Truck" arrived, the driver told me that I could ride with him in his truck. But because he was a stranger, and because I imagined that there would be a lot of "awkward silence" I asked him if I could just ride in my crashed car instead, and he said that I could."

But because the front of my car had gotten so bent up in the wreck, he told me that it would be way too dangerous to attach his chains to my front bumper, and that he would have to attach them to the back bumper instead. (Which meant that my car was going to be facing backwards instead of forwards as it was being towed.)

Once he hooked up the chains and he started toeing me, it was actually kind of neat to be riding in a car that was going backwards, and due to how icy the roads were, we were pretty much the only vehicles on the road. But then we had to stop at a stop light, and as we were waiting for the light to turn green, a car pulled up right behind me, and because my car was facing backwards, me and the other driver were facing each other.

To avoid the awkward eye contact, I turned to my right, but a few moments later a car pulled up to my right, and that driver started staring at too, so I quickly turned to my left, but then a car pulled up to my left as well and that driver staring at me too!

Then more cars started showing up, and I quickly found myself surrounded by cars with drivers who were all staring at me strange because I was inside of a backwards banged up car, so I tried to duck down, but because of the angle that my car was being raised, people could still see me no matter how far I slumped down into my seat.

It seemed like an eternity as I sat there desperately waiting for the light to finally turn green, so I finally resorted to turning my body completely around so that my back would be facing the cars behind me, but when I turned around I realized that the reason we weren't moving was because there was another wreck on the road in front of the toe truck, and we were stuck in a huge "traffic jam" that was probably going to last a long time!

At that point, I felt so uncomfortable that I just got out of my car and walked home (abandoning my car) and I honestly don't know whatever happened to that car.

As I walked home, I felt an incredible sense of freedom come over me because I had finally gotten rid of my car, and besides, I never "enjoyed" driving anyways because of how awkward it was for me!

There is a well-known phenomenon known as "Road Rage" where being on the road can be stressful and induce intense anger in a lot of drivers, and for people like myself, being on the road can induce intense awkwardness, and below are a few examples of things that would make me experience "Road Cringe"...

- When 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.

- When someone behind me would start honking and shouting obscenities at me because I was only going the speed limit, then they would pass me all fast, but we would end up stopping side-by-side at the same traffic light anyways.

- When 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 to avoid any awkwardness 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 there, 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 my "appreciation" for their "act of kindness".

As I walked home, everyone driving by was looking at me strange for actually walking in the middle of a snow storm, and although I would normally become self conscious about something like that, and worry that everyone was going to laugh at me for being the one loser who didn't have a car and had to walk, like magic, I was able to instantly go from feeling embarrassed to feeling proud 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.



5.
"SEARS"


CHAOS = PEACE

I got a job working at "Sears", and although "Sears" used to be the #1 retail store in the United States, it was actually heading for bankruptcy when I started working there, and the writing was on the wall that the company wouldn't 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, and because of this there were so many people quitting that there was always a ton of work not getting done, which made me feel safe because they really needed my help.

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

There was a really lazy old guy who worked there named "Stanley" whose job was to round up shopping carts in the parking lot, 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, and due to how short-handed we were at the time, 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 would always be cash missing from his register. So one day they performed a surprise search on him right before he left work and found $200 hidden in his sock (and there was also $200 missing from his register) so he was fired on the spot.

He denied stealing it at first 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 and out of its misery.

But the managers went through the surveillance footage and were able to find several clips of him taking money out of registers and then putting it in his sock, so he finally admitted that he had been taking money out of the registers. But then he claimed that the only reason he was taking money was because he wanted to start up his own business and he 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!

I noticed that everyone else would get really upset whenever someone would keep their job despite their bad behavior, but at the same time 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."

Deep down I believed that "Sears" would eventually go out of business and that I couldn't keep this job forever, but I intended to enjoy the experience and ride the waves of chaos until the very end...

PILLSBURRY DOUGHBOY COURT ROOM SKETCHES

Sometimes I would have to run a cash register at "Sears" and they used to have these small trays at each of the registers that would be full of pennies to help out customers who needed just a few extra cents to pay for their purchases, and on the side of the try it would say "Take A Penny, Leave A Penny".

And because there weren't a lot of customers, I would often just be standing at the register with nothing to do, so I started bringing art supplies to work with me, and as a joke I made another tray and filled it up with "court room sketches" that I drew of "The Pillsbury Doughboy", and on the side of the tray I wrote, "Take A Pillsbury Doughboy Courtroom Sketch, Leave A Pillsbury Doughboy Courtroom Sketch".


"The Pillsbury Doughboy Take the Oath"

The tray that I made would always result in confused looks from customers, and I would always keep a straight face and act like it wasn't meant to be funny and that the sketches were for anyone who really needed a "Pillsbury Doughboy Courtroom Sketch" for some reason. (And I always felt really good whenever someone would take one of my drawings home!)

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", and not only would he work overtime any chance he got, but even on his days off he would show up 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 to buy a big house in "West Virginia" so that he could enjoy a comfortable retirement way out in the country.

Once he finally reached his 50th anniversary, he officially retired, and on his last day "Sears" had a big party for him 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) and at one point a News guy with a microphone tried to interview "John" by saying...

"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." So "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 they 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 had just received the terrible news that "John" had a heart attack and died on the very first morning of his retirement!

It seemed so sad and so unfair to me that he had worked so hard and for so 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!

Everywhere I worked, co-workers would be telling me that I had better start thinking about my "retirement" and be saving up for it, but the death of "John Thompson" helped me to realize that the future is promised to no one.

AS SEEN ON TV

I noticed that "Sears" sold lots of products that had a little red sticker on the label which said, "AS SEEN ON TV".

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, so as a joke, I made a bunch of little red stickers that said "AS SEEN ON SWEATING TO THE OLDIES" and I would bring the stickers to work and secretly put them on 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 something from "Sears" back in the day, and it had one of these stickers on it, now you know where the sticker came from ;)

UNEXPECTED VISITORS

One day I was at home and I suddenly got a knock at my door, so I quietly tip toed to the door, and when I looked through the "peek hole", 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 of course they 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.

Even I didn't know where I lived! (Any time 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 weeks, the missionaries kept showing up at my apartment and knocking on my door while I pretended to not to be home, and I was getting so embarrassed that my neighbors were going to think that I was a "Mormon" that when 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.)

My landlords told me that the only vacant apartment they had at the time was a "studio apartment" (which was basically just one small 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 there was no way that 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!

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

The "Mormon" missionaries kept showing up at my apartment looking for me, until one day when I was at work, I heard one of my co-workers yell my name, so I turned to see what he wanted, and he was walking towards me with the missionaries!

The missionaries actually showed up where I worked, and they 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 perverted male co-workers were looking at the missionaries in confusion and wondering why the hell they were doing at "Sears". (And why they knew me.)

I did my best to keep up a fake a smile, and once they got to where I was, 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 accusingly waving his finger at me while saying "And since you're scheduled off this Sunday, 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 wanted to tell the missionaries to quit stalking me and to just 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 just said, "Yeah you got me there." and because I wanted to get the missionaries out of the building as quick as possible (and before one of my co-workers said the "F" word or something else that wouldn't be appropriate) I went ahead and just 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 left the store, 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 "Sears" 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 like everyone else at "Sears" would claim they had...

They thought that I was a "Mormon", and all of the guys I worked with made it their self appointed mission to help "get me laid", even though I wasn't a "Mormon" and I didn't want their help with that.

Of course, I didn't show up to church that Sunday like I told the missionaries I would, so they continued to show up at my apartment at least once a week to pound on my door and embarrass me.

Then one day I showed up to work and someone told me "Happy Birthday!" I didn't even know that it was my birthday, but it turned out that it was my birthday, and all of my co-workers decided to have a big party for me after work. I thought that was nice of them at first, but then I found out that they were going to have the party at a restaurant across the street called "Hooters" (which was notorious for hiring female waitresses with large breasts.)

Then they informed me that they had also invited the missionaries to come along! (One of the ways that "Mormon" missionaries are able to afford to go on a mission, is the fact that people in the church as well as people in the local community will frequently invite the missionaries to a free lunch or a free dinner so that they don't have to spend much money on food.)

It was obvious to me that they were just wanting to see me and the missionaries' reaction to the female waitresses, so once the missionaries arrived at "Sears", I told my co-workers that I would walk to the restaurant with the missionaries, and I told the missionaries that I was getting a ride from one of my co-workers, and I simply went home when my shift was over, and everyone else went to "Hooters".

So I didn't even attend my own "birthday party", and my perverted co-workers and the missionaries had it without me.

I'm not sure how that party went, but it must have been pretty awkward for the missionaries, because on the bright side, they never did show up at my apartment again after that incident.

IN LOVE WITH MY NEW BOSS

All of my managers where I worked were men, but then we 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 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.)

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 then he would have to keep reminding 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 she showed me her tits.

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 have never bought toilet paper in my life, due to how embarrassing it would be to be seen buying it! (Even though I know full well that it's a basic household item that everyone else buys and uses, and that people will even "hoard" whenever there is a mass hysteria.)

Once I moved out of my parent's house and into the "real world", what I would do is simply go to the bathroom at work and take a bunch of toilet paper, fold it up neatly, and then put it in my pocket and take it home with me.

I took toilet paper from work for years, and I always felt kind of guilty about it, because even though it was just toilet paper, it was still technically "stealing". And after they performed that surprise search on "David" and found $200 in his sock, I knew that one day I might get searched like that, and I started to have really bad nightmares at night about getting caught stealing toilet paper at work and not only getting fired over it but having it show up on my employment records any time I tried to get a job in the future!

So I decided to never steal toilet paper again, but because I was still too uncomfortable to just go to a store and buy it, I simply went on www.amazon.com and ordered some on-line, and I went ahead and 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 over the years. (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 that I should call a lawyer immediately to investigate all of my recent purchases in detail. (And they told me not to worry, because I wouldn't have to pay for any purchases that the 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 the person in "Italy" who 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 "minimalist" and I liked it.

Then I got a notice on my door from my landlords saying that they were going to be replacing all of the air conditioners in my apartment complex, and that maintinince workers would have to enter my apartment at an unspecified time during the first week of April. So I ended up staying at a hotel that whole week just because of how nervous I was that I would be home when the maintenance workers had to come inside my tiny apartment.

And when I finally returned to my apartment at midnight on the last day that they were supposed to be replacing the air conditioners, I opened my door and turned on the lights, and I was startled to see an overweight man in his underwear laying in my bed and snoring!

It turns out that this man was one of the maintenance workers who replaced the air conditioners, and because my apartment was "furnished" (came with a bed) and because I had no other possessions (except for my clothes and a few other things that I had brought with me to the hotel) he thought that my apartment was "vacant", and because he didn't finish installing my air conditioner until after dark, he decided to go ahead and just sleep there for the night.

It was pretty embarrassing for both of us, and after he left, I went to the bathroom and realized that I had left my squirt guns on top of the toilet. (I have "bladder shyness" and will sometimes have to squit water into the toilet, because it sounds like urination and helps me pee.) So it was awkward any time I saw the maintenance guy on the complex, and any time I got a notice saying that he was going to have to enter my apartment to work on something I would definitely have to stay at a hotel for a while!

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!" and I would say, "I'm not going to risk my life just to try to stop someone from stealing a wrench from "Sears"!" and then the male co-worker would accuse me of not being a "real man" and of probably still being a virgin, and then he would go outside and confront the shoplifter without me.

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 by the shoplifter, "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 actually sue us!

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. He then 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, 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 had nothing 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 "ice breaker"!)

GETTING ROBBED

Business was really starting to decline at work, and the store was quickly becoming a "Ghost Town".

One day I was literally the only employee in the store, and a couple of hours went by without there even being any customers, but then a customer finally entered the store and walked up to my register, so I asked if I could help him with something and he reached into his coat and started yelling that he had a gun and that he was going to shoot me if I didn't give him all of the money in my register!

I was so scared that I almost peed my pants and I immediately put my hands in the air and started screaming, "Please don't shoot! Please don't shoot!" and he yelled, "Shut the fuck up and give me all the fucking money in fucking cash register!"

Although he claimed to have a gun, he didn't actually show it to me, and instead he just had his hand in his coat, and I kind of suspected 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 get 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 yelled, "It's that fucking button!" But then he realized that he had just exposed his fake gun so his eyes got all wide and he said, "Oh shit!" under his breath 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 it was so obvious that he didn't have a gun that I almost peed my pants as I struggled not to laugh, and because he was smaller than me, I also felt confident that I could easily defend myself if I had to.

But because I also suffer from "Secondhand Embarrassment" and I get really embarrassed whenever I see other people get embarrassed or make a fool of themselves, I felt so bad for him that I continued to act as scared as possible just so he would think that I still believed he had a gun and wouldn't feel embarrassed about it.

I put all the money in a bag for him and then I handed it to him, but I guess that it wasn't nearly as much as he was hoping for, because when I handed it to him he looked at it with disappointment, and I felt so bad for him that I actually pulled out my wallet and 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 really had to pee, and because I felt so sorry for him, I went ahead and peed my pants on purpose, just for a "visual aid" to help make him think that I really believed he had a gun, and to avoid "Secondhand Embarrassment".)

He then got a really disgusted look on his face, and instead of taking my wallet, he threw it back at me while yelling, "You sick fuck!"

So I tried to move out of the way to avoid getting hit, and the wallet just barely hit my hand, but as I tried to move out of the way, I accidentally 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 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 was embarrassed about the thought of "Shamaya" seeing the video.

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

I actually had a lot of cash on me since I had been a "minimalist" for a while, and since he didn't take my wallet, I took all of the money that I had in my wallet and put it in the register hoping that it would be enough to cover what was stolen. And when management showed up later that day and asked me how the day had been going, I just told them that it had been a really quiet and slow day so they wouldn't have any reason to watch the tapes, and luckily nobody else found out about it.

But it meant that I was broke again, and because my rent was almost due it meant that I ended up having to go another week without eating, and just like the previous fast, my vision improved dramatically!

As soon as the week was over, I bought a big watermelon to eat, and when I opened it up, I was in awe over how beautiful it was. (It was as if I had just cut opened a big rock and discovered an amazing red crystal geode formation inside!)

I then got a spoon, and because I hadn't eaten anything in a week, the first bite of the watermelon I took tasted so sensational to me that I actually screamed "OH MY GOD!!!", and as I continued to eat the watermelon I had to restrain myself from screaming in delight because I worried that my neighbors might hear me and be thinking "Hey that virgin living in apartment 14c is finally getting some!" and try to listen to me.)

After eating the watermelon, I was no longer physically hungry, but I still had a strong desire to look at and admire the beauty of fruit, so I went on-line and did an image search for "exotic fruit", and I ended up stumbling onto an interesting website / forum for "fruitarians". (People who eat a diet that is either all or mostly fruit.)

When I looked at the profile pictures of these "fruitarians" I noticed right away that most of them had what I can only describe as a "fruit glow" (They had remarkably clear and shinny skin, as well as a radiance in their eyes, and it was almost as if you could see their auras!)

I also noticed that most of them were living in tropical places like "Costa Rica", "Thailand", or "Hawaii" and it got me to start thinking that it would be great to someday live in a beautiful tropical location like that. (But it also seemed completely unrealistic to me at the time, because one of my co-workers had recently gone on a one-week vacation to "Hawaii", and he said that it cost him over $10,000!)

I joined the forum, and although I was too shy to join in the conversations, I quietly lurked around and got inspired to eat a lot more fruits and vegetables, and I also started to really have a strong desire to move to the tropics.

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". He was from "Texas" and would dress like a cowboy by wearing 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", and 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 and because I imagined that if we kept talking outside the neighbors would be secretly watching us through their window blinds, I agreed to go inside.

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

I then noticed a large collection of professional wrestling video tapes, so I asked him about it and he said that he was the world's biggest pro-wrestling fan. (Although 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 big 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" because anyone who didn't watch wrestling would think that you believed wrestling was real.

I also remembered that whenever I would watched wrestling with my grandpa on Saturday mornings, the show 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.

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, and just to be a polite guest I once again lied and told him that I would.

Then after a few more hours of listening to him talk (mostly about pro-wrestling) and not being able to get away from him and out of his apartment, it was starting to get dark outside, and 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" that 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 suddenly 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 the fact that I was an extreme "introvert" and he was an extreme "extrovert"!

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

Because he was shouting my name so loudly, the whole building became silent, and I slowly turned around and gave him a forced a smile and a nervous wave, and then in front of everyone he enthusiastically asked me...

"DID YOU WATCH "SMACK DOWN" LAST NIGHT???"

I cringed with embarrassment over the fact that not only was everyone in the building staring at me, but they all thought that I was a pro-wrestling fan too!

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

But because I was pulling my shirt so hard in opposite directions, right before I got to the door my shirt ripped completely in half!

Because I was now shirtless in front of everyone, I instinctually tried to tense my muscles so I would at least look muscular, and then I remembered that the wrestler "Hulk Hogan" used to rip his shirt in half and then flex his muscles right before his matches, so I then started to really flex and pose like a bodybuilder while yelling, "Whatcha gonna do, when Hulkamania runs wild on you!!!" just so everyone would think that I ripped my shirt on purpose.

Then I walked out the door and it hit me just how embarrassing that was!

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...

DISABILITY

Over the years I had developed a bad case of "social anxiety disorder", and as time went on, I avoided going out in public as much as possible.

If I had to leave my house, and I was walking down the street, I would constantly be looking around to monitor my surroundings, and if I looked ahead and saw another person and we would have to walk past each other I would immediately cross the street to avoid it. (And if I couldn't cross the street due to traffic, or because there was someone on the other side of the street as well, I would have to turn around and find another way to my destination, and sometimes it would take me an hour to walk somewhere that would only take a normal person 10 minutes to walk to because of all the detours I would end up having to take.)

It's not that I feared or disliked people, but whenever I came into close contact with another person on the street, I would basically have 2 options. I could either act like they were invisible and pretend that I didn't see them. (Which even the best actor in the world would have trouble being convincingly at sometimes.) Or I could force myself to smile or say "Hello" to them. (Which might lead to them wanting to make "small talk" with me, which is something I dreaded so much that I would rather spend an extra hour walking around than have to endure even a minute of it!)

I am also way 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 I will 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 then noticed 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 as I was approaching it, I suddenly 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 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 that was 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.

If I didn't have that seizure, they probably would have arrested me and I probably would have freaked out so bad that I would have been charged with "resisting arrest" and been sent to jail, so I feel grateful that I was unconscious when they found me and that they had no choice but to send me to the hospital instead of the police station.

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 be enough to live on, but because I was such a "minimalist" it actually was enough money to live on, and I realized that I would be "set for life" as long as I continued to be a "minimalist" and as long as everyone continued to believe that there was something wrong with me.

I was getting enough money each month for my "disability" that I was able to save up and get myself a very small house in a small town where I could be more alone.

I also didn't want the "Mormon" missionaries to find me, so I decided to change my name, and I did it with the same level of secrecy and security that one would have when changing a password on-line.

The musician "Prince" had recently changed his name to "The Artist Formally Known as Prince" and he even spelled his new name with a symbol instead of letters, so I changed my name to "Elbow" and I even spelled it with a handicapped symbol since society had labeled me "handicapped" and so it would be practically impossible for anyone to look me up.


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 any time I had to go somewhere in public so that everyone would think that I was handicapped, and to help ensure that the disability checks would keep coming.



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


This necklace got so many strange looks that I kind of got an unusual thrill from wearing it in public, and even when I was at home and working on art projects I would wear it because it made me feel more creative, and it served as a reminder that those who embrace their awkwardness and find creative ways to express it are the true artists of this world.

At first, I felt a bit guilty about taking the money that I was getting, but then I thought to myself that as long as I stayed creative, who's to say that someday I wouldn't eventually film, draw, or write something that inspired positive change in the world, and that would ultimately do far more good than spending 40 years working at a job that destroys the world would?

I wasn't a "Monk", but I was certainly living like one, and for many people "solitary confinement" would be one of the worst forms of punishment imaginable, but for me it was an opportunity for personal growth, and I knew that someday I would be ready and able to leave the house and see the world...

EDIT: After years of being too shy to say anything, I finally made a post on the "fruitarian" website where I introduced myself and told everyone that I would really like to go to the tropics someday. Then a woman wrote back to me saying that she owned a fruit farm in "Costa Rica", and she invited me to come and live with her in exchange for helping her with her garden, and I'm going to go!

I will be sharing my experience in "Costa Rica" in an upcoming instalment of "Embarrassed into Enlightenment".

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