By Hayley Carr
I definitely wasn’t pulling my weight at work. In fact, I was only distracting other people from their jobs, making them lazy. Employing me was bad for productivity. Sometimes, the extent of my indolence surprised me, while other times I blamed the tedium of the work, which usually ground me to a halt. I asked the other employees how they kept themselves motivated. They said money. I wasn’t getting paid. So much for that.
The tiny, 14X15 foot office seemed to operate within its own temporal laws. Every hour dragged into infinity, to the point where I had completely lost all sense of time. The three weeks since I started had felt like three years, like I had already wasted the best years of my life there. I was entrenched in that place. When I thought about my first week at the company, it seemed like a foggy, distant memory. I remembered parts of my infancy with better accuracy.
I probably wouldn’t have minded the monotony if the work seemed to serve some purpose, but there was no sense of achievement, no sense of fulfillment when the work was completed. Only a perpetual cycle of meaningless image searching and tinkering that seemed to go nowhere. I was defeated by its pointlessness quite quickly, and usually spent the afternoons with my shoes off, swinging idly in my oversized office chair while it squeaked like a pubescent boy.
When the other intern and I were alone, we would talk about video games and technology and our crippled ambitions until the sky outside turned an inky blue and the offices across the street were lit like a corporate Christmas tree. Sometimes we played music out loud and became so focused on picking the right songs and singing along that we completely forgot to work. “Kiss From a Rose” was our favorite. In more fits of boredom, we drew caricatures of Kevin Bacon on the whiteboard, adding motivational slogans such as Work harder, slaves! Kevin’s word’s failed to inspire us. With my lack of productivity, I was begging to be fired. In a way, I think we all were. Or at least I wanted us all to be.
Sometimes, during our lunch hour, the other intern and I would go on wild adventures. These adventures often took longer than an hour. You can’t put a time limit on adventure. Once, he took me to the Natural History Museum, where we spent the whole time giggling at the ugly animals and guessing what they were thinking, which was usually something lewd. The next day, we went to the National Gallery and drew pictures of Seal in crayon. Other times, we would walk through St. Stephen’s Green and marvel at the swans as they preened themselves, running their long necks across their bodies like lint rollers. The birds would often look at us with disdain, as though we had just unashamedly walked in on them bathing, which I suppose we kind of did. They made gestures that we interpreted as Fuck off, and then off we would fuck.
Sometimes, I thought about having sex with the other intern in the bathroom at work. Only sometimes, and out of boredom. When the workload piled up, and I was almost driven to insanity with boredom, I would head to the toilet and hide out there for a while. Sometimes, I would just sit there for a long time, and other times I would sob quietly. And sometimes, I would think about fucking Tim. I was partly curious to see if we could get away with it. On days when we were alone in the office, who would even notice? The bathroom was small, but we would both fit inside. There was a sink to lean over and a mirror we could watch ourselves in, if we were into that kind of thing. At the very least, fucking in the bathroom was something to do, some way to bring excitement into our miserable lives. With an attitude like that, I was sure to become an alcoholic.
Part of me felt like I was corrupting the company from the inside. I hated the work and spent all my time DJing and encouraging the others to hate their jobs, and by extension, themselves, as much as I did. By the end of my first month, I’d be staging a coup. When our genial, motorcycle-riding boss reprimanded Natalie for not doing any work one day, I felt partly responsible and, in turn, partly proud. I’d sown the seeds of anarchy. Or, at least, the seeds of apathy. There was some guilt in there, somewhere, but not enough to haunt me. I wasn’t going to lose any sleep.
Every morning I would moan about being there, to the point where my colleagues expected it, and were ready with cynical banter. My crippling depression had become a running joke. Neat. In the evenings, after riding the train home, my mum would ask me about work, and every day I gave the same response: It was awful. And it was always true. I’d then put on headphones and watch YouTube videos of people playing video games while I ate my dry, lukewarm dinner, trying to drown out the reality that I had to go to work the next day, and the day after that, and the rest of my days until I was dead. This was usually followed by crying, and then bed. I had only been a fully functioning adult for a few weeks, and I was already suicidal. I didn’t know how people got through the days, got through their lives, if this was their reality. Every day, I thought about jumping in front of a train but, damn it, it was just never going fast enough as it eased into the station. Never. Besides, interns don’t have life insurance.