A friend and coworker, who I talked to daily about work and non-work things for over a year, left on Monday.
I’ve already forgotten what it is like when he was here.
The memory isn’t repressed … if I want to think about his oft-creaking chair or relentlessly vibrating cell phone, my brain retrieves it in nanoseconds. Still, unless I’m given a reason, he no longer exists.
And this is sad. He was one of a handful of people that I truly trusted at work.
At the same time, an unanswered phone call that I made Monday evening, to a person I barely know, has dominated my thoughts.
We don’t have control over where our mind wonders, or in my case, where it stalls. The true beauty of human nature is rooted somewhere in this concept – the idea that the same brain that is constantly nagging you to do basic tasks like take out the trash, can just as easily nag you into something beyond yourself.
It seems like an unreasonable solution to any genuine disagreement, but if one could heal with the power of a hug … it is probably me.
My mom has always told me I’m a really good hugger. Just like she tells me that I’m fantastic at giving back rubs. My brothers are vehement that it is simply a ploy by our mother to get me to perform the two activities more frequently, and this may be so. But it has worked.
Now, at age 25, I believe I’ve reached the peak of my hugging career. I’ve kept in pretty good shape, and my strength is contrasted by a hint of softness that comes with age.
You probably have tens of thousands more hugs to perform in your lifetime, so I’ve listed some things for below average huggers (you know who you are) to think about.
Tips from the pro:
- Confidence is key, avoid all hesitations.
- If you encounter a group, hug everyone. Do not be a selective hugger.
- Do not pet or pat unless you are doing a comforting hug.
- If it’s a man hug keep it brief, unless it’s a goodbye family man hug … then let it linger.
- Never clasp your hands together in back.
- If your hug counterpart is crying, wait for them to let go.
- Make sure you are properly clothed for a front hug, if you’re shirtless just go for the side squeeze.
- If you’re a woman, and trying to sex it up a little bit, go for the vertical arms hug or the around the neck hug. (Men avoid both of these)
Today is my second anniversary at my current employer.
Missing was the congratulatory handshake, confetti, and cookie cake. In my time here I’ve had four bosses, three different job titles, and two cubicle moves.
I’ve managed to accumulate the best keyboard, the most impressive rubber band ball on the floor, and a sample award from the marketing department (pictured above).
Our coffee has recently been upgraded to a brand called Highland Estates, and we even have a new machine, imaginatively named the Cream n’ Sugar dispenser, that provides dehydrated cappuccino and hot chocolate.
Given the current circumstances, I’m happy to be spending my days reclining at various levels in my lumbar supported computer chair. I keep busy, and have gained a marginal amount of respect from my peers.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was growing up, but it didn't involve the words auto insurance. Still, by all conventional measures, I’m doing well for a 25-year-old.
As I spend more time considering my next career move, my dad is consistently surprised. He doesn’t understand why I would ever leave a highly paid job with room for advancement.
He spent 30 years working his way up the corporate ladder at Hormel, and in time a job changed from a means to an end to an obsession. This isn’t even a joke, he is passionate about meat.
It’s not a new story, but things don’t work like that anymore. In part corporations have dictated the public’s current job-hopping tendencies, but I think the biggest reason is a unparalleled sense of entitlement. An entitlement that we cultivated as we were raised by the wealthiest generation in the history of the world.
I don’t mean to say that I’m not willing to work hard, but I might be reaching for something that doesn’t exist in the first place.
I was told I can do whatever I set my mind to … to follow my dreams. But we can’t all be astronauts, presidents, and firefighters.
Does entitlement enable us for greatness, or send us on a path to despair?
After spending no less than $50 on alcohol, cover charges, and unjustified tips, I rarely feel like paying for a taxi. And since my pheromones are the equivalent of a late night lady repellent, I’m constantly on my own at night's end and there is really no rush.
Excessive alcohol, while debilitating physically, makes a potentially dangerous and long walk home seem like the obvious solution.
It’s the same drunken logic that convinces you to call, recall, and continue to recall an ex. Persistence deserves success, and there’s nothing to lose. Two blocks or two miles will be overcome, and you don’t have anything better to be doing.
Plus, you see some interesting things.
Saturday was no exception. About halfway home, I was walking by Blake’s, a gay friendly bar near Piedmont Park. The crowds were still dispersing and a group of three young guys were not far behind me, seemingly on the same route.
I heard them all start to giggle, and before I could turn around they came prancing by me on both sides, pants down, boyish white butts highlighted by the surrounding darkness. One jumped to the side and hopped off of a brick façade. And 20 yards later they were back to normal.
I’m not sure of their intention. They could have been searching for a homophobic reaction, or a possible lifelong lover, but I left them flustered with my completely unfazed acknowledgement. I gave equal attention to their white bouncing butts as I did to their euro-inspired faux mullets.
They continued along, and eventually, from a safe distance, yelled back to ask where I was going, in addition to other long range small talk.
Nothing else notworthy took place, and they took a side street a couple blocks later. I was alone again, getting closer to my place. The safety of the gay community was now long gone.
I got bored and started to run, much to the delight of passersby, who had limitless witty comments ranging from my inability to find a companion to the mere fact that I was running in jeans and button up shirt.
Soon enough I was approaching the home stretch. And regardless of the hour, the same shady men seem to be milling about on the corners.
Prematurely winded, and trying not to attract attention, I returned to my lanky gait. My pace couldn’t be mistaken for a swagger. It’s certainly not “hard,” but if needed it can convey the I’m-intentionally-keeping-my-head-down-don’t-mess-with-me image that can be necessary in downtown Atlanta after 3 a.m.
I made it to my car, and drove the remaining three blocks. I figured I would be ok on the back roads, and my car probably wasn’t safe where it was parked.
I probably only saved $8 or $9 dollars, but I’m pleased with my decision. Still, if you think you see me walking down a pedestrian averse road early in the morning be a pal and pick me up.
I try not to make a habit of hanging out with 18-year-old girls. Guys either for that matter. Last night I danced with hundreds of them.
I was at a monthly event called Fuck Yesss at The Drunken Unicorn, a venue/club just down the street from me. Typically, as I get older, the 18-21 group seems to appear increasingly younger, more tender – the opposite of wise.
Looking back, I can’t imagine how we didn’t attract attention in high school as we drank indifferently in public places. Sure, our hemp necklaces and witty t-shirts were shared by our college-aged peers, but it certainly wasn’t an adequate disguise for our baby faces and scrawny proportions. I couldn’t have been a convincing 23-year-old, as my ID suggested, but I was never hassled as I walked out of countless gas stations with a case of Natural Light under each arm.
That said, I witnessed a phenomenon last night. It was midnight and the place had just opened. We were standing at the back of an unexplainably long line, which, 30 yards ahead, turned into a clump of over-anxious weeknight club goers. The mass of people near the front was prime for line-cutters. After five minutes, and no line advancement, we gave up and headed to a neighboring bar.
Expectations for the night were pretty low, so a PBR and a game of Big Game Hunter would have been enough. But since there are three S’s in Fuck Yesss, we decided we should give it another shot. When we got back the line was a lot shorter, but after a few minutes we realized it still wasn’t really moving.
Then someone asked, “Are you guys going to be drinking?”
I do like dance, but dancing sans alcohol is risky, “Yeah, why?”
“The 21 and up line is up there.”
Turns out, there wasn’t really a line, just because nobody else over 21 was waiting. I glanced back at the line, not fully comprehending that the hundred or so people that were behind us were under 21. I guess we were important because we would probably be giving money to the bartenders, instead of the local Xanex or ecstacy dealer.
The music was average, but the place was absolutely packed. Every square foot of space was occupied except a three foot area around the DJ on stage. I started to fade around 2 a.m. and had work in the morning, so I headed for the door.
Bars in Atlanta stop serving alcohol at 2:30, and close at 3, but there was still a line when I left. Since they wouldn’t be drinking I guess they still had an hour, even so I’ve never seen a line for a club this late, especially a line 50 deep.
Hipsters look old. It adds anywhere from three to five years to your appearance.
I’m guessing that probably 75% of the crowd was under 21, but I couldn’t tell. I could have been dancing with a girl who has health class in the morning, but every single person looked like they were in their mid twenties.
It’s the perfect match. Excessively skinny bodies, thin patchy facial hair, and longish unkept hair are associated with both hipsters and teenagers. It’s the perfect cover, and I now understand why it’s a popular lifestyle choice. Don’t get me wrong, emo music can be catchy, but they really just want to look older.
I've been going to the same gym since I started my current job, which is about two years now.
Occasionally I half-heartedly lift weights, ride the stationary bike, or swim in the pool, but 90% of my time is spent on the abbreviated basketball court. It has two goals, but the three point line nearly reaches half court and instead of sidelines, there are plaster walls. It is the perfect size for the everyman who has been idle at work for the last eight hours.
It’s hard to say who’s going to show up. I’ve guarded Dominique’s brother, former NBA player Gerald Wilkins, and I’ve guarded overweight 14-year-olds, who, full of fear, shoot the basketball the second they catch it, regardless of location. There are guys who throw themselves alley-oops off the backboard, and a broad-shouldered, overweight guy that plays in wrestling shoes.
Regular players come and go, but there is a handful that I’ve now known for a long time – eight percent of my life to be exact. It’s strange to consider, but during this time period I’ve seen these guys more often than my parents, my friends, and just about anyone else.
I don’t know much about them outside of the gym. I know James is a cook at Wild Wings, just because I’ve seen him there. And supposedly Stat is a rapper, but I’ve never heard any of his tracks.
I do know who is going to be a ball hog, who will make an overdramatic fuss if they don’t get the call that they want, and who will give me the best chance of winning.
Despite conversations that rarely meander far from the world of sports and entertainment, I feel like I know these guys. I know them by the way they carry themselves. I guess a big part of it is their consistency. Same time every day, same jokes, same ugly jump shots.
Basically they're my bros:
DZ – 5’5” Guard. He’s round. He’s loud. And he will literally lay on the court until he gets his way. Loves to shoot, and although he rarely makes it, when he does, he’s sure to make a spectacle.
Damien – 6’3” Guard. One of the best players. Always sporting a backwards cap. Kind of a jerk, but nice if he’s winning.
Chris – 6’4” Center (280 pounds). My arch rival. He’s considerably stronger than me, but luckily he’s lazy.
Ivan – 5'9" Forward. Jovial, but unexplainably slow mentally. His left arm is seriously attrophied and cannot support the ball on its own. Loves to joke around.
James – 5’10” Forward. Quietly confident, except when he’s not quiet. Usually among the first to arrive, last to leave.
Cliff – 6’ 1” Forward. Ultra aggressive. Our heads butt occasionally, but if I’m 48 and have an attitude like this guy then things must have turned out pretty good.
Ado – 5’ 8” Guard. His typically broken English is interrupted by his catch phrase, “Let’s play,” which he yells every time before the ball is checked.
Jay – 6’3” Guard. My main teammate. Probably the best athlete in the gym. Can take over, but makes a point of involving his teammates … if he feels like it.
Russ – 6’ 0” Forward, overweight and overconfident. He played for about four months with a cast on his shooting arm. This didn’t stop him from taking shots five feet behind the 3-point line.
Me - 6'3" Forward. Sweatiest guy on the court. The kind of sweat where his t-shirt maintains a consistent color because it is all drenched.