I’ve been working a new job for the last six weeks or so. It’s interesting work, somewhat intimidating, but I think I’m picking up on it fairly well. I’m told that it will probably be a year before I’m totally confident in the work, so I guess I’m about where I should be re: how I’m judging my abilities. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
I want to talk about one of my coworkers. He’s a young guy, 21 years old, with really curly, sandy brown hair and, until a week or two ago, a fuzzy little moustache that looked like a pair of caterpillars clinging to his upper lip, and made him look even younger than he is. His eyes are huge and black, shining liquid like a couple of drops of tar. The very first night I worked with him, I could overhear him in the other room, talking to one of the patients, saying, “I don’t even have a high school diploma,” which is not exactly something you would want to hear from someone in the position in which we work.
His diet, I think, consists almost entirely of Slim Jims and energy drinks. His breath, after eating and drinking shit like that must, I can only assume, be awful. The other night, he told another coworker and me that he’d made himself sick eating those huge foot-long Slim Jims a couple of nights previous. “How many did you eat?” She asked him. “About seven or eight,” he said. His other favorite thing to eat are those big “Souper Meal" cups of microwave noodles; always the tomato, shrimp, and garlic flavored ones, which smell awful. He’ll sit there next to us, no one speaking, and all you can hear is his slurping over your shoulder.
"Are you into guns at all?" He asked me on my first night. It was the first thing he’d said to me. Then he gave me a copy of American Rifleman to read. I sat and leafed through it, the entire time wondering when he was going to ask me about video games. Finally the question came. I told him I didn’t really play too much, if ever. “Yeah, I tried playing Warcraft,” he said, “but it was too simple.” I assume I was supposed to be impressed by this. I wasn’t.
Wednesday night, the last night I worked before my weekend began, I could hear him again talking to a patient in the next room. I was busy doing my own work, so I couldn’t concentrate exactly on what he was talking about, but I caught weird snatches here and there, floating down the hall and playing around my ears:
“…Obama…I don’t think he’s a bad guy, he just does bad things…don’t think he’ll be elected or anything…Ron Paul…six or seven dollars a gallon…Drudge Report…it’s really the only website that will link to…you know what the next big thing’s gonna be? Holograms.”