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Things Are About To Get Real
by Bryan Duff

The following describes the events of July 13th, 2009, my first day in the real world - also known as my first day out of college and in the workforce. Because the majority of my graduating cohort has not been as fortunate as I have been in finding employment, I self-importantly took it upon myself to write a running diary of the day’s events in order to share the joys of employment with my unemployed brethren.

6:00 am: Wake up anxiously before my alarm. Here’s to the working week.

6:02: Notice my bed smells like fish and chips. Odor either results from the fact that my roommates let several random British strangers use my bed over the weekend, or because I suffered nightmares about my upcoming first day and the aroma is the smell of my night sweat.

6:18: Go to Walgreens to get Cheerios and eggs for breakfast. Also buy hand soap. I do not eat the hand soap for breakfast, but I do eat the Cheerios and eggs.

7:23: Leave for train. Make mistake of sitting next to an old man who was either asleep or dead. I didn’t really need anything else to worry about, so thanks a lot, World.

7:35: Realize that Pretty Young Thing is stuck in my head. Begin to worry if this will persist all day.

7:40: Snoring provides confirmation that aforementioned old man is not dead.

7:51: Arrive at work 39 minutes early out of nervousness. Unsure how to kill time, I begin to circle the block. I pass a TJ Max which makes me miss my mom.

8:15: Finally enter building.

8:17: Get on wrong elevator.

8:21: Get on another wrong elevator.

8:25: Finally get on the right elevator.

8:30: Begin orientation session.

8:33: Told that the mission of my company is to “Help Make Democracy Work.” I am sure this very tangible and specific statement answers any questions you have in regards to exactly how I am making a living with a sociology degree.

8:56: Informed that no weapons are permitted in workplace. Begin to worry how I am going to hide the two dozen hand grenades I impulsively put in my back pocket this morning.

8:59: Told we have a casual Friday dress code. When I ask what this means, I am told to wait until Friday. Assume I can just wear jeans, sandals, and my high school football jersey like I did on Spirit Fridays back in my bucolic hometown, but maybe will bring an extra change of clothes just in case.

9:01: Pop quiz time! What do I do if contacted by reporter? My answer: direct them to publicity department, unless that reporter is Connie Chung. In that case, I should ask “Where the hell have you been all these years, Connie Chung!?”  My answer is correct, making me then newest winner on America’s Fastest Growing Quiz Show: Human Resource Pop Quizzes.

9:05: I Want To Love You (P.Y.T.) Pretty Young Thing.

9:06: Realize there are no P.Y.T.’s in the room – only human resource representatives.

9:08: Receive five page handout containing a list of government acronyms. My favorite? FMLD: Federation of Mommas that Love Dinosaurs. Why does our government sponsor that organization? No idea, but I am now prouder to be an American.

10:07: Begin to fill out confusing W-4 sheets. My struggle causes me to question the worth of my liberal arts degree.

10:21: Receive technical orientation by IT-staffer Ricky. Hey Ricky! You’re so fine! You’re so fine you blow my mind! Hey Ricky.

10:24: Ricky explains what an email is.

10:25: It becomes clear Ricky lives with his grandmother.

10:37: Orientated to company library by company librarian. Told I can use library for personal use, so when I want to read “An Introduction to SAS Programming” for recreation, I can!

11:03: Need Some Lovin' (T.L.C.) Tender Lovin' Care.

11:14: Introduced to “company advisor”. She offers to take me to lunch tomorrow to discuss my career goals. I now have 25 hours to invent career goals.

11:15: On second thought, that old man this morning might not have been snoring but rather undergoing rigor mortis.

11:37: Escorted to my new home CUBICLE 3024B. Its thin walls and square footage make it the McMansion of Cubicles. If I stand, face left, bend, and squint, I can see part of the lake. Here’s to the working week.

11:39: Told that I won’t have a computer until tomorrow. Three separate supervisors apologize for this – as if I would make this a deal breaker and quit. Chill out guys, I am more desperate than that.

11:51: After pushing my box of office supplies around for a while, informed to go to lunch.

11:52: Exit the cubicle.

11:53: Get on wrong elevator.

11:56: Get on another wrong elevator.

12:08 pm: Finally escape building in search of food. Decide its best to go somewhere close. Resist temptation of McDonalds for a place called “Oodles O Noodles”.

12:18: After long wait, I receive a Moderate Portion O Rice from Oodles O Noodles.

12:29: Obtain fortune cookie with following fortune: It is not the count of the words but rather their weight. So far, this diary is at 873 words. Unsure what each of them weighs.

12:39: Re-enter building after being told by a 7-foot ice-cream cone that a new Dairy Queen just opened down the street. Will be taking my girlfriend there when I feel like being fancy and have paid off student loans. Hopefully this DQ is as good as the one back home. Remember that one time when we all –

12:41: Distracted by reminiscing of hometown DQ, get on the wrong elevator.

12:43: Wrong elevator again.

12:48: Finally return to cubicle.

12:51: Introduced to my “company buddy” Lino. He is five feet tall. He tells me that he is here to answer any questions and that I should feel free to talk to him. Unfortunately he tells me this in the most intimidating way possible.

12:54: Lino exits, but not before the following exchange:
                Lino: Any questions?
                Me: No, I think I’m good for now. Thank you very much.
                (really long pause).
                Lino: You smell like Oodles O Noodles.

12:56: While frantically trying to figure out how not to smell like Thai food, whisked away to take out the National Science Foundation’s Confidentiality Course.

1:38: Finally find a computer to start online course. Begin to feel the effects of not being able to sleep last night in my bed of fish and chips.

1:41: Remember how short Lino is. Giggle.

2:36: Interrupted by company emailing saying that our PR department will begin to Twitter. We are SO hardcore!

3:08: Online course? Completed. Hatred of government bureaucracy? Just beginning.

3:10: Return to cubicle. Attempt to look busy by putting up non-specific post-it notes such as “Paycheck” and “Meeting”. Interrupted by Lino…
                Lino: Do you like coffee?
                Me: No.
                (really long pause).
                Me: I sometimes drink tea.
                (really long pause).
                Lino: Let’s go to Argo Tea.

3:12: Lino shows me the right elevator and we walk to Argo Tea. It is a very pretty day - made even pretty by the sunshine off of Lino's head.

3:20: Lino buys me a green tea. He tells me this is what the buddy system is all about. In fact, his buddy did the same for him when Lino started. I ask Lino where his buddy is now. I learn that Lino’s buddy quit the day after Lino’s first day.

3:23: I again think to myself that Lino is really short.

3:25: Lino tells me he is a karate black belt.

3:25:30: I wet myself.

3:31: Back in office, Lino says “You still smell like Oodles, new guy.”

3:35: Introduced to yet another boss. She shouts “I heard you were tall!” I smile and glance at Lino. He appears jealous and angry. He is clearly practicing his round house kicks in his mind. My boss is interested in how I plan to decorate my McMansion-cubicle. I tell her I may get a plant, but in my mind I am brainstorming the best way to honor the old man who died next to me on the train this morning.

4:01: After long decorating discussion, return to my cubicle and again pretend to be busy. Notice that the man across from me puts headphones on to block out the raging sounds of shuffling papers. That guy’s ninny status is henceforth confirmed.

4:05: Begin to debate: Is MJ talking about things that are pretty young, or are they both pretty and young? Either way, they need tender lovin’ care.

4:25: End debate with no real conclusion.

4:31: Lino tells me I can go home. He leaves for karate practice.

4:33: I begin to stealthily type up these notes on Lino’s computer.

5:08: I finish these notes. I exit to TJ Max to buy bed sheets that don't smell like fish and chips. Day one is over. Somehow glad I didn’t sleep through it, and here’s to the working week.