My therapist recommended I get this stupid diary. Something about ‘writing my feelings down’ is supposed to help me with the cravings. Who writes in diaries anymore? I mean like old school writing in a journal type of diary writing. I could have done this electronically, on a word doc. That would have made it easier to write in during work. But no, I wanted an old fashion notebook like when I was a kid. Every trip to the bookstore I always found myself pulled to the diary section. I would just stare at all those colorful covers each calling out to me ‘buy me, buy me.’ Leafing through a few of the bright artistic notebooks thinking “if I buy you, will I get my life together? Are you the one that is going to finally, magically, make me the best version of myself?”
So, here I am writing in THE notebook that is going to magically get my life together.
I’m at work today and everyone seems to be working on my last nerve, which is why I cracked open this bad boy. I’m supposed to write how I feel. So how do I feel? Annoyed! Amy wants to meet to go over the last F.A.N.G., but she scheduled a meeting with me right when I am supposed to meet with the rest of my team. She knows I will move my meeting for her because she has higher seniority and can act as if she does not understand how to use the scheduling function in email. She’ll go “Oh, I’m so sorry, I don’t even remember how to use that silly calendar function,” and fake laugh trying to get me to laugh too. Meanwhile her eyes will tightly mock me, they will tell me the truth. “I used the fancy calendar function to know exactly WHEN to schedule this pointless meeting.”
Tony keeps staring at me as I write. He keeps trying to ask me out, even though he is like 10 years older than me. He’s going to ask me about this notebook later, I’m sure of it. What should I tell him? I’m posting on an erotica blog and when I think of ideas, I just write them down so I won’t forget later? Then I could watch him try and find my site for the next 4 months. He still tries to find my Onlyfans even though it’s been two years since I made the joke.
GOD FUCK, someone microwaved fish in the lunchroom and now everything smells like trash. FUCK YOU JARED WE ALL KNOW IT WAS YOU. He’s always talking about his stupid marathons. Whatever, it doesn’t make you Ironman because you finished a triathlon! Once I thought that running might help me solve my life problems, so I tried to talk to Jared. The entire time he kept going on and on about his strict vitamin regime and talking about biotics in food. I sort of just left the conversation. That was an awkward week for me.
Ran into Linda on the way out of the restroom today, which was awkward. Linda was the one to report ‘my little problem.’ I’ve been avoiding her ever since. The strange part was that when I say I ran into, I mean I actually crashed into her as I was leaving the restroom. She was trying to go in, but the hallway was too small for both of us. We had to get uncomfortably close as we tried to get past each other. I just remember that hallway being a little bit more spacious. Did we only pay part of the bill so the landlord is knocking in walls?
Today at my 1:1 with my boss I could have sworn that the room suddenly got smaller. I mean it. I know I sound crazy, but one minute my boss was going on and on about how I could be a better employee when POOF the room just pulled in around us. I asked him if he felt that shift in the room, but he looked at me as if I was crazy. I’m not crazy. I know the room got smaller.
I returned to the hallway leading to the restroom, looking at it again. It felt wrong. I don’t know how else to describe it, but just unease settling in you. What is going on? Is this what happens when you stay sober too long?
Tony thinks he has found my erotica blog. Whenever he talks to me, he will sometimes say an out of context line awkwardly. He thinks he is being subtle, but I suspect they are lines from the blog and he is testing me. I should try and remember one of them and see if I can find it myself.
Amy sent me another invite timed right during my team meeting. I saw it was a video conference meeting, so she must be in her vacation home. What a bitch. The last thing I wanted was to discuss the A.T.C. while watching her lounge around her pool trying poorly to hide the pina colada she is sipping from. I declined the meeting, so I will probably get a call from her in a fe-
FRIDAY FRIYAY. I treated myself to an iced coffee on the way to work. – the downfall of a hand written journal is I have to draw the emojis myself – I am scared for the weekend though, just a bit. What should I do tonight, or tomorrow? I could go on a shopping spree. I have been saving quite a bit of money lately, considering.
UGH, mandatory town hall starts in an hour. How many uncomfortably cheesy things can they say this time? Why is the music always from 10 years ago? Maybe I can get a new to-go coffee cup, the other one is getting a little grimy. The company logo scratched off a year ago.
Boss mentioned leaving early, so I am stalking his office so I can leave too. Bret seemed too eager to start a project 3:00 pm on a Friday. I need to leave before he comes over to my desk and talks me into helping him. Almost everyone else has left, why do I have the boss that is the least cool? Just leave old man, just leave please, please, please, please, please. OH. He stood up! Is he moving to his coat? Yes, yes, wait, no? Wait. Oh, he is just throwing something away. Hold on, what is this. Oh that coat looks comfortable, you should put it on and he did! The crowd roars! He peeks his head out to make sure no one else can see he is sneaking out early. No one is around to rat him out. He is going, going, and gone! What an exit 10/10 and stuck the landing. Time to enjoy my weekend.
Amy sent me an email and the sign off was “R.” She is pissed. She couldn’t even type out Regards. She didn’t even start off with a Warm Regards, or the current fan favorite BR. She went straight from “Sent from my iPhone” to typing out R, Amy. The fact that she went to the effort to add the R, Amy really just made the whole email.
Last month I wanted to test her, see how long it would take for her to comment. I would time going to meetings consistently 3 minutes late. Who can get mad at someone THREE MINUTES late. It’s just late enough that it shows you were in other more important meetings then this meeting. It was not quite 5 minutes late though, so you had just enough of an excuse to waste their three minutes. She would always get a little red in the face. Finally, after a week she said something about how tardiness is not a virtue. I had to play it straight the entire meeting.
It happened again!! The office is getting smaller! Today at the department meeting I asked where Tammy was, and everyone looked at me like I was crazy. No one knew who I was talking about. A couple of them looked at me with pity in their eye. That’s what I hate the most.
After the meetings I rushed over to where Tammy’s desk usually is, but it wasn’t there. Not like “it is missing and there is this massive spot where something used to be” missing. More like the space never existed in this building in the first place. It just went John’s desk, then wall. I pressed my ear up to the wall and knocked on it, maybe Tammy had turned into a wall? John looked at me like I had lost my mind. I asked him about Tammy, and he had no idea who I was talking about. He didn’t even remember that one Christmas she got trashed with me and they had to change the HR policy for company parties. It’s a good think I am good at my job. Probably would have been fired forever ago otherwise.
OK, yesterday Tammy just vanished and today we suddenly don’t have a coffee maker! What is going on? Where is the coffee? Is corporate cutting costs again and it’s the little people left suffering? I had to rush to the store to get the insta-coffee crap. The lights are giving me a headache too, the office feels tighter and brighter. I asked Julie if she feels like the room is getting a little less specious as it used to be. She did the pity thing again. Pat me on the shoulder, telling me that sometimes this process can be a difficult one, and that she will always listen if I need to tell her anything. This is exactly why I don’t like talking to Julie, she always says shit like that.
The best conference room just disappeared as I was leaving it! It was the one that the smart IT guy set up. Super easy to connect to, had the instructions clearly written out, easy to follow. Now it’s gone. I don’t know what happened but after we all left the room, I turned around realizing I did not grab my favorite mouse. Only instead of a conference room, there was wall! I dropped my laptop and started to bang where the door used to be. It was just right there! I left the room through that door! Todd had to pull me away and tried to calm me. Normally I would have welcomed this, Todd has bulging biceps, but at the moment I found it irritating. He kept shushing me and petting my hair.
The IT guy is inspecting my laptop to make sure I did not damage it during my ‘freak out.’ I asked him if he remembers wiring up the Pacific conference room, but he claims there is no Pacific room. When my laptop is fixed I am going to have to show him my meeting invite for the last meeting. It must have Pacific listed.
My coworkers are starting to stare at me like they used to before I bought this notebook and got my life together. Derrick stopped by my desk to ask about my plans for the weekend. He kept looking around my desk, checking for any signs I have fallen off the wagon again. When I asked him what he is looking for he jumped slightly. Then looked at me with those stupid fucking, ‘I’m better then you because no one has ever looked at me and thought poor old sap” eyes. I bet his wife sent him over here to check on me. She always worried about me for no reason.
I GUESS I AM JUST EATING AT MY DESK NOW! Whatever magical repo is going on, it just repo’d the lunch room! How am I going to have my afternoon terrible insta-coffee if I no longer have access to hot water? I guess a silver lining is I will no longer have to smell the microwave fish smell. Someone really needs to talk to Jared about it. Well, I guess we no longer have to...
At the all-hands I raised my hand to ask a question of the company’s president. It got painfully quiet as Linda, tightly, handed me the microphone to ask my question. I wanted to know if they planned on expanding again so we can get our lunchroom and other perks back. The president just smiled a bit tighter, before chuckling uncomfortable and asking me what other perks I have in mind. I asked just for the same ones from the last five years: free coffee, tea, maybe some snacks would be great. The president cut into my list with a scoff before he started to complain about entitled young people while the audience chuckled. He proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes telling an inspiring story in the tone of a woman retelling her favorite Disney fairytale. At the end he concluded that we have not worked hard enough for free snacks. When he see’s free snacks work ethic, then we will get free snacks. The crowd cheered.
I guess we are not getting our lunchroom back.
Wednesday Mike is gone! He would walk by every Wednesday at 10:00 AM and we would always go “Hey! Hump Day!” enthusiastically and then he would walk off never to be seen until next Wednesday. BUT TODAY AT 10:00 AM HE DID NOT WALK BY! I thought he might be sick, but I checked his desk and it was gone! I was trying to ask around, but my coworkers have started to distance themselves from me. I think I should eat out for lunch today.
I just realized it’s been a few days since I have seen my boss. I asked Tony if he had seen him lately, and Tony looked at me as if I was crazy. Then he got that perverted twinkle in his eye, so I just walked away and started to investigate all the offices to see if I could find the boss man. Nothing. Zilch. I also noticed that several directors offices were missing, I wonder if they moved off site so not to be associated with us ‘working class’.
I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I AM NOT CRAZY I
I let myself in the office and I am searching ON A SATURDAY. Where is it? How does this box work? It’s got to be a box, right? It just keeps getting smaller. I swear this office used to have dimensions but now its just a large room with desks. The bathrooms are gone now! How is no one else seeing this? Am I too sober? Is being too sober even a thing? If I was a magical button that shrunk an office slowly where would I be hiding? Do you think it’s red and big with a large sign that says THE GREAT OFFICE SHRINKING BUTTON? Probably not.
Is this a dream maybe? A delusion into madness from years of dealing with office culture? I want the room the shrink and it is shrinking? I want a shrink; I want a drink.
I spilled coffee on my sweater dress this morning when I walked into the office. More like I screamed and dropped my coffee on myself. The room is just an open office with Linda, Tony, and I. I asked where everyone else went and was met with uncomfortable stares from my remaining coworkers. “Are you…?” Linda started to ask a question, but just sighed and gave up before mentioning my problem.
My calendar is surprisingly open today. I think I could get used to that. Why has Amy stopped emailing me?
Today I opened the door to my office to find my desk, ready for me, in a room that barely fits it. I just sat and started to write in this diary. With no one here to tell me I am going insane I think I was right. I don’t remember ever working in a room of this size. I generally remember having a coworker or two. I’m pretty sure I had coffee. Oh, the coffee. Is it just me or does this room still carry a strong perfume of roasted beans. I was not going crazy, it was shrinking, right? I have no one to check my sanity anymore. It’s just me in my head, writing in this notebook.
PROPERTY OF THE OFFICE OF HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTIONS
IF FOUND, PLEASE RETURN TO:
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Hi Evelyn. I was asked to read your story for the critique circle and I'm glad I did: it's a clever take on the prompt, making good use of the diary format to tap into the paranoid ramblings of someone who's convinced of her own sanity in a world that's getting increasingly crazier. What works well is the way your narrator mentions so many things that sound like normal concerns, such as her strained relationships with other office workers, and then juxtaposes these with the notion that the office is literally getting smaller and smaller. On ...
Is this the way it will all go? Shrink down everything from bye bye coffee to space then sanity; perhaps all we'll be left with is a journal. I've only got one from last year; I need to get one asap to note my delusions and well-founded fears in! The heavy rhetorical questions and capitalisation really upped the increasingly desperate and frustrated humour. Good job!
Evelyn, I loved this story. It was hilarious. Her shrink, the incident with Jared and the fish, picking out the perfect journal, she wonders if she is too sober (if that's a thing?). I absolutely think you captured the essence of the prompt extremely well. I found two spots you can fix before it gets posted for good. staring to stare, REASERCH LF6
Hello Lily, Thank you for the wonderful feedback. I was able to find the staring to stare, but I am not sure what you mean by REASERCH LF6?
Where you wrote: PROPERTY OF THE OFFICE OF HUMAN REASERCH PROTECTIONS
Evelyn, this is the funniest thing I have read in forever. OMG! I was nearing a hernia. Some faves: (though it's hard to choose!) - if I buy you, will I get my life together? - As a planner addict sitting here looking at 5 of them FOR JUST THIS YEAR, I feel this. - FUCK YOU JARED WE ALL KNOW IT WAS YOU. - FRIYAY - Those come in every single sticker pack for planners. EVERY ONE. I want to punch them, literally just punch the stickers. - The downfall of a hand written journal is I have to draw the emojis myself - LOL - I GUESS I AM JUST EATIN...
Thank you Wendy for the encouraging words on this submission and the Deals with the Devil story! It's nice to know someone else gets the humor I slip into these stories! Some of my favorite parts is when she is stalking the boss on a Friday hoping he will leave so she can get out as well. My favorite line overall was the "I guess we are not getting our lunchroom back," after the president goes on a tangent about free snack work ethics. I did submit this to the contest, and I really appreciate that you think it's to that quality. Again tha...
My pleasure! :)