By contributing writer Michael Sonjack
Before I realized that one can make billions of dollars as a professional ass kicker, I worked in an office.
A regular office.
White walls, so everyone would remain neutral and avoid any unpleasant massacres; dark carpet—stains are harder to see that way; small kitchen with a fridge and coffee machine. We even had snacks that were free. I thought I was one of the luckiest cubicle-whores in the world. Free food and drinks? Bad ass!
My life was all bliss and candy corn… until “Jen” was hired. I'll call her Jen because it's a common name, easily forgettable and boring.
I shuddered the first time I was introduced to Jen. Clearly a smoker, she decided to try and mask the obvious by washing her clothes in perfume and then hanging them to dry next to 42 Glade air fresheners. That's the only conclusion I could reach when I realized I could no longer see straight and my equilibrium was kicked in the nuts. And that was all from just walking down the hall she resided in. I'm pretty sure there was an 8-foot radius around her that would be considered highly flammable by virtually any surgeon general. Despite her best efforts to dismember my olfactory system with her offensive stench, one could still detect a faint hint of the classiest of cigarettes: Camel.
Apparently, Camel cigarettes also cause leprosy of the hands.
Noisily crusty, her grasp was enough to make me certain that when our brief introductory shake was done, I would be left with a piece of her—a finger or chunk of palm. Her hands were brittle, decrepit, and mummified.
I couldn't understand why her hands were so dry. Looking at her, I was convinced her caloric intake consisted exclusively of fried foods and milkshakes with cheese. Yes, she was a bonified fatty.
If you were to lift up her shirt, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a North Korean strapped to her frontside in one of those reverse backpack/baby holder things. It was like she was permanently pregnant… with quintuplets… that were 4 years overdue.
She always asked me to move boxes for her. Allegedly, she'd had back surgery and it never healed correctly. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the 20-gallon skin bag she was continually lugging around. According to her, the surgery resulted in her inability to carry anything over 50 pounds. Considering the 9th wonder of the world just below her chin, I assumed this limited her transport skills to notepads and French fries.
Remember the free food and drink I mentioned we benefited from in the office? This included the little candy tray up by the receptionist. I always assumed, since we had a kitchen full of processed food, that the candies, which were not in the kitchen, were for any visitors who braved our notoriously sluggish elevators.
Until I saw Jen walk up to the tray.
“Okay,” I thought, “maybe she's in the mood for a piece of chocolate.” I mean, we all get those little urgings for candy or genocide.
Then I saw her Saharan hands start collecting certain pieces like it was 1995 and there was an box full of free Beanie Babies. Somehow, within 4 seconds, she was able to grab seven Mr. Goodbar pieces and waddle slowly back to her cubicle, careful not to put too much pressure on her overworked spine. The tray was like a battlefield, candy spread to the edges, and not one yellow-wrappered chocolate had survived.
Jen's love of sweet shit did come in handy. Somehow she had a sixth (maybe fifth, since I'm assuming she couldn't smell) sense for desserts of any kind and size. Before email or word-of-mouth could reach me at my corner office with a splendid mahogany desk and credenza, I would see her stubbily shuffling past my line of vision.
Plate in hand and head down, concentrated on the delicacy she was about to engorge herself on, her tongue massaged her lips in anticipation.
This was how I knew someone had brought a treat in. Cake, cookies, pie. The type of dessert didn't matter. If it had 739% of your daily saturated fat allowance, she had a chunk before the host could say, “my daughter made it,” or “don't eat the plastic.” Her ninja-like quickness belied her rhinoceros-like stature (and texture).
I'd made a mental note of all of these disturbing traits (in addition to her Roseanne Barr-esque fashion sense) when I was in the unfortunate position of having to share an elevator with her. Chances are I was on my way to have lunch with sexy women; I can only assume she was on a cigarette break.
But I never made it to that lunch—the paralyzing despair of the following conversation took its toll on me, especially when I realized that she's not the only person like this:
Jen: Going to lunch?
Me: Yeah, getting up early means that by now, I'm ready to eat a live horse.
Jen: What time do you get up?
Me: About 5, I try and work out before coming to work.
Jen: Oh, I could never do that, I'm too tired in the morning.
Me: It sucks sometimes, but I figure that if I wait till after work, I'd never go. I'd have too many excuses to skip.
Jen: Me too. I could never work out in the afternoon either, I'm always too tired when I get home.
Jen: Yeah, I just can't work out. I'm too tired… and I had that back surgery.
“Yeah,” I thought. “And you eat enough chocolate to be diabetic… and you smoke (her post-lunch hackathons are a melodious symphony of phlegm launches)… and you sit in a chair all day, only getting up to stuff your maw with more sugar-filled sugar cubes… and you avoid even the tiniest amount of physical exertion throughout your day. Other than that, you're completely healthy and should probably be given a raise at work.”
What drove me to quit the next day and become an alcoholic of Mel Gibson proportions is knowing that, despite my statuesque figure, award-winning personality, and head full of thick, luxurious hair, Jen the Fat will probably outlive me.