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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Going Up, or Going Down?

Blogging’s just like riding a bicycle… your legs are gonna get sore, and you should really wear a helmet.

Tomorrow’s the end of an era for me, boys and girls. It’s my last day of work at my current job, and then it’s off to the Island of Downsized Misfits. It ain’t Toyland, or even Wonderland, but it’s not EuroDisney, either, so it could be worse. Much.

(Can you imagine what it would be like to actually work at EuroDisney? Besides the fat screaming German children and the sappy It’s a Small World After All music grating on your nerves all day, you’d have to listen to every damned announcement — whether about a special at Minnie’s Mini-Golf Pro Shop or a lost, blubbering kid wandering around the Francois Fun House — in seventeen different languages, many of which sound like asthmatic macaws trying to whistle Zippity Doo Dah. The ‘No Littering’ message alone would take three hours to translate into the language of every pissant little postage stamp of a country in the area. And if that’s not enough, you’d also have Goofy going around the park all fuckin’ day, scarin’ the children and chanting, ‘Le hyuk, le hyuk, le hyuk‘. Which is about the only thing the rest of the French people would bother to say to you, assuming you have the audacity to have not been born in their country. Honestly, I’m surprised some kid in a Donald Duck costume hasn’t gotten all liquored up by now and gone le postal on the whole friggin’ place.)

Anyway, after tomorrow, I’ll join the ‘ranks of the unemployed’, as they say.

(I wonder what rank I am, anyway? I think I’d like to be a Lieutenant. Or maybe a Captain. ‘Captain Jobless, at your service!’ Nah, that wouldn’t work. It sounds like a lame superhero; some guy with a big ‘J’ on his chest and a three-day beard, fighting crime in his grimy underwear while he waits for ‘the call’, so he can turn back into a mild-mannered office monkey again. The bane of gainfully employed men and women everywhere, Captain Jobless scours the globe in search of minions — here, ruining a report with a coffee spill; there, breaking up a job interview with prank phone calls about inflatable boobs. Captain Jobless works tirelessly to free the corporate heathens from their honest, well-paying, insurance-providing chains. The Captain shall not rest until all are out of work as he is, eating Ramen noodles and recycling aluminum cans for spending change.

(To be fair, Captain Jobless has always recycled, due to his keen sense of environmental responsibility. But this time, it’s different. It’s personal. There’s beer money involved.))

All right, I had a fucking point lying around here somewhere; I’m sure of it. Ah, right — the job thing.

So, tomorrow’s it for this job. I’ve got to grab my books, and my headphones, and my meeting slinkies, and as many of their pens and notebooks and staplers as I can carry, and get the hell out. I guess I have some mixed feelings about the whole ball of goo. After all, I did work there longer — almost three years — than anywhere else I’ve ever been employed.

(My previous record was two years. Nine jobs in the last eleven years — I’ve had more positions than a Kama Sutra pop-up book.)

And the people were generally pretty nice, and only a few of them talk too loud on their phones, or belch loudly at random times, or gather in each others’ cubes to giggle over drivel while I’m trying to work. Of course, to be fair, a few people there do do those things, and they’re raging assholes. So fuck those people. Right in the hoo-hah. Bastards.

But the rest of the folks are fine, and I suppose I’ll miss my professional peeps. Anyway, it’s not a time to dwell on the negative. Rather, it’s a time to remember the positive, and to show up at work drunk, and to stock up on random office supplies.

(No, really, I’m Jonesin’ for this a little. I haven’t gotten to show up drunk since the last day of my last job, and that was three years ago. And I telecommuted, so it really wasn’t the same, frankly. For one thing, the whole ‘stealin’ shit on your last day’ thing went right out the window.

(I did mess the place up a little, though, just to make myself feel ornery.)

Plus, I started working at 10am in my pajamas every day, anyway, and nobody was ever there to give me shit about that. So it really wasn’t all that different with a buzz. Which ended up sucking. Not only was I disappointed that my little rebellion went completely unnoticed (until my wife got home that night and asked about the new stains on the carpet), but I was absolutely mortified that I hadn’t thought of it before. Hell, I could’ve been loaded three, four days a week, and no one would’ve known. I’m still kickin’ myself over that one…)

So, anyway, things are wrapping up here, and I get to play golf for a few weeks while I look for something new to be no good at. I’d say that I plan on really letting myself go, too, since I don’t have to be presentable or anything… but I really don’t have very far to go, to be honest. I’m pretty much doin’ the bare minimum as it is to avoid arrest for indecency or disturbing the peace (not to mention public intoxication), so I’m not sure exactly how I’ll manage to express my new-found freedom. I suppose I could walk around the house with my fly open or something, but you never know what the dog’s gonna decide is a chew toy (I did mention she’s a pit bull, right?), so I think I’ll play it safe and keep my boys in their own neighborhood. Thanks just the same.

I suppose I’ll miss some things here at the office — the place down the street makes a killer chicken sandwich, for one. And the people that I don’t loathe, and the bits of work that didn’t give me screaming conniption fits… hmmm. Maybe there’s not so much to miss after all. Oh, wait — I know what I’ll miss the most now. The Elevator Olympics. Yah. I’m in a seven-floor building, and the possibilities to annoy people with elevator-related chicanery is unlimited. Elevator games are the coolest, and here are some of my faves:

The Great ‘Vator Race: This one’s simple. Two people. Two ‘vators. One person in each. The starter yells, ‘Go!’, and the athletes push all the buttons as fast as they can. They have to stop on every floor (usually spoutin’ smack to each other while the doors are open), and the first to the top wins. You get bonus points if you can pick up passengers and still win, ’cause that’s much harder. You know, given that the people getting onto your elevator might actually want to go to another floor, and are gonna get their butts all scrunchy when you start pounding on the ‘Close Doors’ button the millisecond that they open. Plus, you’ll likely be shouting something like, ‘I’m kickin’ your ass, bitch licka!‘ to the other elevator, so you can see the conflict of interest that your co-passengers might be feeling. Needless to say, this is a game best played after the suits have scrambled for the day.

The Chinese Lift Drill: I know, I know — it’s culturally insensitive. But I didn’t name the damned thing, nor the ‘Fire Drill’ before it, and I don’t know what else to call it. Just deal, baby. Anyway, this game’s similar to the Race above, but it requires a bit more synchronization, since the contestants actually switch elevators at each floor. (Try this one with three or four elevators — now that’s entertainment!) The first one to the top still wins, but it’s possible to lose this one along the way, if you can’t make a clean exchange and get into the other person’s ‘vator before the doors close. Believe me, folks — there is no lonelier feeling on the planet than running a Drill and staring at the closed doors of the other guy’s lift. Men cry, women wail, and friends and family gnash their teeth. Okay, so mostly, people just call you a dumbass. But there’s some gnashing, and the occasional wail. Work with me, here.

The Shithead Shutout Shuffle: Or S-cubed for short. I have a friend who’s favorite saying is: ‘People get off. People get on. How fucking hard can it be?’ He likes to say this to dumbasses who just have to scurry into a full elevator before the passengers have gotten off. Sure, they deserve it. And yes, somebody should say it. And no, he doesn’t really have any other friends. But that’s not the point. The point is, like every good smartass pissy idea, it’s now become a game. Here’s how it works — in anticipation of one of these slobbering boobs trying to skitter past you into the elevator, work your way to the front of the crowd of passengers. When the doors open, someone — there’s always one — will try to make their move. That’s your target — you’ve identified a shithead. Now comes the tricky part. The goal of the game is to pretend, as convincingly as possible, that you’re trying to get out of this diddle-dick’s way. Of course, what you’re really doing is bobbing when he bobs, or weaving as she weaves, so as to stay right in front of your target at all times. The longer you can last without obviously being a dick, the better. It’s a little bit like bull-riding at a rodeo. Much like it, in fact — there’s a fair chance that you’ll get trampled or gored, making eight seconds consistently will win you some championships, and though there will be numerous clowns around you most of the time, they really don’t help much until it’s too fucking late. Oh, and you get an automatic win if you can manage to sneak forward as you perform your ‘dickhead dance’, and keep your opponent occupied until the elevator door shuts behind you. That’s the ‘Shutout’ part, and it’s an automatic free beer where I come from. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Hot Potat-evator: This is a cool game, because you can play it with a friend, a la the first two games, or you can play it with a clueless nincompoop, as in the ‘Shuffle’. (And if your friends are clueless nincompoops, you can probably have twice as much fun playing it with them… but dude, you really need new friends.) Anyway, the goal is simple — just be the last person to push the call button before the elevator arrives. When you’re playing with someone else ‘in the know’, this usually degrades into some sort of slappy, keep-away-from-the-button nonsense. Some people dig that. If so, fire away. It’s no-holds-barred. If you’re the last to click, you’re the last to click. If you gotta give your friend a poke in the eye or an Atomic Levitating Wedgie to get there, then so be it. This ain’t Switzerland. Get in there and win the damned game, and your buddy can pull their undies outta their ass when you get to your floor. Personally, though, I prefer to play the more sinister version, where some knucklehead comes up, sees that you’ve pressed the call button, and — guh! — hits it again. (I’m especially snarly if this happens on the top/bottom floor, where there’s no question that you’re already waiting to go the same damned direction, and have clearly pressed the button in an appropriate manner. People that do this need to be deboned, on the spot. With a spork.) Anyway, when this happens, don’t fuss and fume. Just mosey over to the button, and — with a meaningful glance in their direction — push it again. Press it, and let go with a flourish. Voila! Then see what they do. Either it’s game on, and you can feel better when you kick their ass (and they’ve got their panties stretched over their head), or they’ll back out. In which case, you’ve made them feel like an ass, you’ve frightened them just a little, and you’ve won by default. Do a victory wiggle, and put another notch in your elevator cable. (That might be a sexual euphemism; I haven’t decided yet. It sounds a bit painful, frankly.)

Musical Chairs for Morons: Okay, this one isn’t really a game, per se. It’s just a way to really annoy people, and quite possibly get your ass kicked. It works best in a really tall building with lots of people using the lifts. It also works best if you’re a linebacker or body builder of some kind (see the section on ‘ass kicked, getting your’ above). Anyway, the fun begins when someone steps out of the elevator, and then wants to get back on. Often, people will — very politely — step just outside the door of a crowded elevator to let folks off and on, and then slip back inside before the car leaves. Less often than that (but far more often than you might think for a species that invented wonders like the vacuum tube, and the Swiffer, and the reversible vest), you’ll see someone paying no attention whatsoever and hop out on the first floor that comes along, regardless of where the dildo originally thought they were going. We’ve all done it — I’ve done it, and yes, on that day, I was a dildo. Okay? We’re equal opportunity assholes here, and you have to remember: there’s a little dildo in all of us. (Do with that one what you will. A gift, from me to you.) Anyway, the real goal here is to keep the person from getting back on, just out of random, heartless vindictiveness. I’m not very good at this, I’m afraid — I need a deserving target to really be a cold-killin’ bitch smiter, but it’s up to you if you want to go for the gold. You can kick ’em, trip ’em, yell ‘Ooga booga!’ at ’em, whatever. Keep ’em off, and you get the grand prize. As for me, though, I’m more interested –as usual — in the booby. Er, prize, that is. The red ribbon for second place. And the way to get that is, monkey do as monkey see. Every floor you stop on afterwards, get out of the elevator, just like your new friend, and then get back on. Whether s/he does it again or not. Just step out, for no apparent reason, and then step back in again. It’s most effective where there are lots more floors for you to practice on, but fewer and fewer people on the elevator. It’s a bit like playing solitare, or that game where you have pegs in holes on a board, and you jump them around until you’re left with just one. The goal, of course, is to have the elevator all to yourselves, just you and your target, and still be doing it. The bravest — or largest — of us might even push a few extra buttons at that point, just to drag the victory lap on a little longer. Of course, this is the point where the person is likely to slice you open like a fresh fish when you step back into the elevator, but hey — who’s afraid of suffering a little for their art?

So, that’s it. That’s what I’ll miss the most, and I don’t mind shedding a tear over my loss. Hopefully, when I hook up with the corporate world again, I’ll be in a high-rise and I can start another play-group. Ooh, and maybe there’ll be advertising execs in the new building! They’re the best for doing clueless shit that prompts these sorts of smackdowns. So, anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and maybe even learned a thing or two to use in your own office. I’m certainly gonna miss it. And hey, I’ll have to find a way to stay in practice, just in case. My wife oughta be home soon — I think I’ll go hang out on the porch, and see how long I can keep her from getting in the front door. I just gotta watch out for her backhand coming towards my noggin. That’s her weapon of choice these days, since I had to start going commando to prevent her goin’ for that wedgie. See, I don’t screw around, man. I’m a pro.

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