I wake up to the fifth and final alarm set on my cell phone: 10:45am. I have to be at work in 15 minutes, where the fuck am I? The neck pain associated with sleeping on a friend's couch is instantly amplified by the headache caused from extreme dehydration. Attempting to collect my wits while collecting my belongings, I stumble into the kitchen and open the fridge, silently praying for some form of sterilized water. No bottles, no Brita—the tap it is. I turn on the faucet and grab a green plastic cup from the cupboard. The water is violently hissing and spitting, so I leave it alone for a moment and see that my left hand is shaking in a death grip around the neon vessel. The water won't run cold; fuck it, I'm dying.
Sweet lovely death, I'm waiting for your breath. My one good eye is throbbing. I can see work from here. With the sun blasting through the uncurtained picture window and one eye half open, I take the first sweet sip of warm apartment building tap water full of unacceptable levels of heavy metals. My body will only allow me to ingest about a cup of liquid before I feel sick. I look at the clock—fuck, I'm going to be late.
The hallway with its fluorescent lighting and casino carpeting give me the spins. I need to walk with one hand against the wall to keep my balance. Someone must have just cleaned the tile floor in front of the elevator; it reeks of bleach and Lysol… reminds me of hospitals. I hate hospitals. I call for the elevator and wait impatiently for its doors to open. There is a mirror inside so I will be able to attempt to become a human again during the short ride. To my absolute horror, when the elevator does arrive, there is a man occupying it, wearing sandals.
Regret last night yet? The trip down to the lobby must have been a terrible one. A man with a newspaper folded under his arm was doing his best to make small talk about the weather to me, a miscreant smelling of booze and looking like a pile of shit. My breath probably could have raised the dead. I do my best to compose myself, but despite my veiled efforts at politesse I know he sees the monster that I am.
Ground floor, finally. Even though it's only been 7 minutes since I awoke and I am well aware that I have at least a 12-hour day ahead of me, I feel like crawling into a hole and dying. Work is only a 1.5 minute walk away from my current position. Leaving the elevator, I am accosted at the front door by a rather large woman walking approximately 15 dogs. Something about animals, they can smell evil. Usually when I look into a canine's flaccid eyes I am aware of its Aquinas-ean lack of soul, but now I realize they are the ones that know I am sans soul.
Once more unto the breach, mid-daylight without any UV ocular protection and the hangover multiplying natural light sensitivity. Sweet lovely death, I'm waiting for your breath. The brisk winter air burns my lungs. My one good eye is throbbing. I can see work from here. Just up a small incline, across a street, and down a road. As I ascend my first obstacle I hear a roar in the near distance. Looking to my left I see a caravan of school children, no older than 10, chaperoned by three adults, marching towards me on the sidewalk. In a panic I duck into the nearby corner store. Oh god, another human encounter. Walking to the chilled drink section, I take a moment to breath before reaching for the largest container of orange juice available.
As I approach the counter, the sinking feeling of not having any money hits me. I recall withdrawing at least $80 from the cash machine last night and I not spending a dime on cab or food, so I should be good. The register rings up $4.95. I search my wallet to produce the last five dollars to my name. "Keep the change," I say, after refusing a bag and receipt. Who the fuck am I? What kind of prick says that shit? Me, I guess.
Leaving the convenient store I find myself in the center of the locust swarm of school children. This is too much exuberance and lust for like than I can take. Such a large group of unspoiled prepubescence strolling along with smiles on their faces and no clue to how shitty the future will be for them, after the very people they trust and love finish fucking it up for them. I just want to shake them all and tell them how precious childhood is, and instead of spending time wishing to be older so they can drive cars and drinks alcohol, they should be enjoying the lack of responsibility that makes life enjoyable.
Instead of my inspirational rant I opt to stand in the alcove of the doorway and wait for the train of children to pass me by. Their multiple high pitch conversations drive another spike into my Occipital lobe. They are gone now. I'm almost safe. Crossing the street and sneaking into the back door of work, I look at the clock: 5 minutes to spare. I go downstairs and change for what will be one of the worst shifts of my life.
The actual working day evades my memory. The only recollections I have consist of me hiding in the basement eating bread not knowing how I it would be possible to make it through the day. My coworkers must have hated me that day for being the total piece of shit that I was. But in the food service industry you will never get sent home for being too hungover or still drunk—the only reprimand comes from calling in sick or being late. Me dragging my ass and being completely useless still shows the ultimate effort of coming into work and manning up.
The day is somehow over. I survived. Standing at the bar drinking a hurried pint before last call, a server walks past me and says, "You are looking great, all dressed up." My heart sinks. "I slept in these clothes." Brutal honesty always seems to soothe the hearts of the ladies. "Well, you still look good." The last thing spoken to me by a woman in a relationship before I leave and drive home.