An email notification appeared in the lower right hand corner of the screen, but I ignored it in favor of continuing to fill out a survey I had recently been given about my firm’s culture. It was important to let the head guy know what I felt about how my colleagues lived up to the firms standards, after all. Democracy and shit. A few minutes later I heard the office equivalent of rustling in the bushes behind me as some creature approached, followed by the tentative ‘tap-tap-tap’ of human fingers trying to get my attention.
I pulled my headphones off and turned to face my assailant, a harassed looking bumpkin of a middle aged woman. “What’s up?”
“Did you see my email?” Yes but I ignored it – nothing good has ever come from any email you have ever sent me. Seeing your name on an email scares me far more than ISIS or Putin or Ebola or anything else idiot fear-mongers have tried to warn me about on the TV over the last couple years.
“No, was it urgent?” Smooth, Nathaniel. You’ve got this. I was worried though. I’ve learned over the last couple years in various offices that shit flows downhill, and through some accident of birth and various failures I always happen to be at the bottom of any hill I find myself near.
“Not particularly but we should talk about it. Can you click on the link?” It’s hard to square how kind and sad she looks with the anger I feel towards this person. I opened up her email, clicked the link, and was transported to a page full of dozens of other links, each of which seem to lead to documents of some kind. This is ominous.
“So my team is doing an internal audit of all the materials on this page, and I was told you could help me with this – we’re looking to print out every document on the page.” Jesus fuck. Really? There’s 7 sections on here and each one has 10-15 documents. No. No. No. I will not do this. This is why I hate waking up in the morning. This is why I drink. This is why I despair. This is why I’m going to die alone.
“Hey, sure thing! When do you need this done by?” If anger could kill this woman would be a puddle of flesh and bones and jelly.
“Monday or Tuesday would be great! Thanks Nate.” One day I am going to die but I swear by everything I hold dear that before that happy day I will see you broken and alone at my feet, and you will beg me for mercy and I will show you none. When your life has run its course your god will come to bring you home but only after I have had my vengeance. I swear it.
“Sure!” I accepted my fate, and for that I hate myself more than I could ever hate her.
That afternoon I clicked on the link and began. The first section looked easy – 10 documents in a row. Click into the document. Click to download. Click to open. Control P. Next document. Click. Click. Click. Control P. Click. Click. Click. Control P. I got halfway through the section before getting up to walk to the kitchen – clicking is thirsty work. I came back and finished clicking through and printing the section, then walked to the printer to pick up all of the documents. Should I put a binder clip around them? I guess… this is section 1, and it would make sense to put the sections together as separate entities. People who care about their jobs would probably do that.
I clipped them together and started on the next round, which I finished again in 10 minutes. Click. Click. Click. Control P. My life has become a series of index finger spasms and hotkeys. Where did I go wrong? Was it that B- in English 170 freshman year? I shouldn’t have mailed in those last 2 papers. Well no, I should have told my advisor to let me drop the class. That’s probably not it though; there are fresher fuckups that are the more likely culprits. Click. Click. Control P. The day you learn to accept this monotony is the day you cease to be. Thanks Pynchon. I’d trade that lucidity for a good sandwich and an ‘eh’ blowjob. I’d be happier if I was dumber. Click. Click. Control P. I finished the section and walked into the printing room to grab my documents.
I walked up to my industrious automaton, reached into the printer to pull out my documents and Oh for the love of God dammit half of the documents were supposed to be portrait and half landscape and the printer is a piece of shit that didn’t flip the styles automatically and I didn’t notice and now I have to do this shit all over again. One day before this is all over I am going to take that printer apart piece by fucking piece and mail them hostage-style to some unsuspecting admin at Hewlett Packard. ‘I send you each a piece of prince.’ I threw the papers away and stalked back to my desk.
This could have been averted by thinking, but the goal here was to not think. Thwarted again. I re-printed correctly this time. The following section went smoothly, click, click, click, control P. 20 minutes of clicking and printing and putting things together.
I got to work on the second to last section, which was composed, of course, of eight 60+ page color power points. I decided to use both my regular printer and the color printer down the hall at the same time to speed things up, so one printer wouldn’t be locked down for 20 straight minutes, because I’m a caring coworker. What a guy. Click, click, click, control P. When the printing volley was done I collected the documents at my printer and then walked down to the other printer. Where I found that the printer, despite being a color printer, had decided to print four 60+ page documents in black and white, because, well, fuck me, amiright?
I stalked back to my desk in a fury and reprinted the documents. It’s OK Nathaniel. It’s OK. It’s OK. You’re going to be OK. It’s not that bad, right? It’s funny that this is what you do. One day after things have started working out you’ll look back at this and laugh, because failure is funny.
I left the office at 5, just after finishing off the printouts. I had spent two hours of my life clicking my mouse and hitting control P over and over again. The word monotonous has never been so apt. That night as I lay alone reading in my bed before going to sleep, I turned once again to my emergency affirmation button. It is a big yellow button with a smiley face on it, it is a bright button and it alone of all my possessions has the power to induce calm. I hit the button. “You are awesome!” the button told me. You’re awesome, Nathaniel. Remember that.
It is late June. It is 1am and I need to decide now whether I want to produce a shield or a broadsword. This decision is going to have a severe macroeconomic ripple effect throughout my economy – they take different types of inputs to produce and will not be completed for 24 hours, during which time my foundry will be locked up and unable to produce any other sorts of weaponry. Meanwhile, if I to choose the broadsword, which I badly need to bolster my feeble attack rating… Also why is it so poor? It’s ridiculous, somehow no matter what I’m doing I always find a way to do it with a distinct lack of conviction. To hand this one over to Ignatius, “I suspect that I am the result of particularly weak conception on the part of my father. His sperm was probably emitted in a rather offhand manner.”
Anyways I need to improve my offense, but I am also highly suspicious of my neighbors to the East. They have been encroaching on my ancestral lands lately, the baseborn curs, and a stout shield may be just the thing I need to weather the coming storm, especially considering I am low on companions lately, having lost several of them in a skirmish over an admittedly trite dispute with a local farmer who somehow had picked just that hour to start channeling fucking Aragorn (I rolled a 5 on the fight and needed a 10-100 to win. Classic).
Building the shield will severely deplete my supply of wood, which would take me almost an entire day to build back up and put a hold on making the significant improvements required to my fortifications. No one is impressed by my fortifications. I suspect the primary reason I face so few threats is because most of my potential enemies consider sacking my meagre holdfast to be a waste of time. Seriously though I’ve only been at this for a week, what do they expect? Jesus. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and shit. With some time and prodigious amounts of wood and stone I plan on one day ruling the sort of stout keep that would make any lord proud. It will make the Tower of London look like a fucking papier mache hut. One day. But hey, I also kind of need the sword, and further complicating this decision are the knock on effects of building a broadsword: due to some quirk its fabrication requires a significant outlay of fish, the loss of which would prevent me from purchasing various and sundry other products needed to heal my main character, and also provide circuses and traveling minstrels to keep my peasants entertained and working hard.
I also really want a dog. Medieval lords are supposed to have dogs and no one will respect me until I some sort of devoted companion nipping constantly at my heels. Preferably a direwolf, that would be fitting. Not necessarily fitting for me, a dog to suit my personality would be a bit more slothful and cuddly and kind of sad, like an adorable young pup whose breed is famous for its ears, except it somehow managed to lose them. Anyways in the context of the game a direwolf would fit right in and I want it and I’m tired of never getting what I want. Is that something I can get? Can the internet help? I don’t know. I’m probably supposed to get falcons at some point too but I can’t get too far ahead of myself, I’m only starting out just now, after all. But a boy can dream.
I decided to build the broadsword, because fuck it. I clicked on the broadsword icon and a pop-up screen appeared “Want to build it faster? Spend 20 gold coins to speed the process up!” That’s awesome! Only 20 coins! That’s great, where do I get those? I spent a few minutes rooting around the shop button and learned that 200 gold coins would only cost me $2. All I would have to do is spend the real money that I have in my real life bank account that I made doing real life shit at my real life job to get fake money put into my fake game bank account to spend on fake swords and trebuchets and dogs and shit. And look the exchange rate is awesome! What a great deal.
Wait a minute. Am I seriously considering using my real money to buy fake money in this fictional, boring and horribly contrived Game of Thrones online game? Is this a thing that is happening? I took a deep breath before continuing my train of thought. Back up a second Nathaniel, let’s think about this. It is 1am on a Wednesday night. I am sober and unemployed. I am lying in bed with my computer on my lap. The bare walls of my room are illuminated by a single uncovered light hanging from the center of the ceiling, the pictures that should be hanging therefrom lay gently on the floor – I had never bought hangers. The $200 air conditioner – did I get hosed? I have no idea what those are supposed to cost – is purring cold air into my lackluster space. All is silent. There is an emergency self-affirmation toy-button perched on my headboard. I pressed the button. “You are awesome!” the electronic voice said to me. I am awesome, I reminded myself. But what the fuck am I doing with my life?