W/M/Smoker seeks Seclusion

Chapter One: How to be an anti-social dick.

Your First Lesson:

When it comes to some people, you can't always ignore and endure like you can with Third Floor Office Guy. That's fine, because over time I have become very good at pretending to listen. It's not just nods and smiles. It's the ever so often interjection that is key. For example:

"That's convenient."

"How strange!"


"Oh, yes. That can happen."

"What a shame!"

The brilliance is in the effectiveness of how you interchange these various phrases to really pull it off. If you are successful no one will ever figure it out. However, most people, after walking away from this conversation with me, will take a few minutes to wonder just how interested I was in what they had to say. That's why it's important to leave very quickly afterward to avoid any further contact.

You must work very hard to be an anti-social dick and it's an ongoing process of long hours and a life of working on each detail to make sure to seclude yourself from people who just won't stop talking, or in my case, everyone in general. It's not something you can accomplish half-assed.

The ever present headache is back and it's accompanied with the ever present need for a cigarette. I sigh as another helpless creature approaches my desk, leaning against the front of it with a playful yet pleasant smile that makes bile rise in my throat. I immediately get up and walk to the lounge to get some coffee. Unfortunately, he follows me. I try to ignore him, but he speaks.

"Morning, Clyde. Mondays, right?" He leans against the counter and pours himself a cup after me.

"Yes. What a shame!" I take a long drink of the nearly too hot coffee, wishing there was something stronger in it. Maybe some alcohol… maybe a bottle of sleeping pills. I attempt a smile as he shakes his head at me.

"Haha! You're too much," he leans toward me and speaks low as if what he's going to say is sensitive information. As if I care.

"Did you hear about Fletcher? Someone told me he was getting reprimanded for losing his fifth case this month."

I suppress an eye roll. Everyone on this floor talks too damn much. Most of what they have to say is gossip and that doesn't interest me. In fact, none of what they have to say interests me.

"Oh, yes. That can happen." It's automatic. I'm not listening. It's hard not to glare at him, scowl and tell him to get the fuck away from me and shut up, but this is the office and I really don't want to get fired or talked to about my attitude. I glue my eyes to his face and concentrate on how horrible the coffee is. Would it kill them to spend a little more for better coffee?!

"Yeah. Poor guy. I don't know if anyone's told him but I'm sure he has an idea. I heard they were going to pull him in this morning before the meeting and talk to him," he shakes his head solemnly this time and puts his mug on the counter.

"That's convenient," I snort and narrow my eyes briefly at him when he's not looking.

"Yeah. These guys don't care about their employees. Big wigs only like money, right?" He flashes a winning smile, one that I wouldn't mind punching right off his face. I picture it in my head for a moment and all of a sudden, my headache is gone and a feel a genuine smile pull at my lips. Nice image.

"Interesting," I say as in my head my fist collides with his face, shattering his smile. Look, if I were anyone else he would be a nice enough guy. However, I'm not and today like many other days… is just not my day.

"What?" He gives me a quizzical expression, one that lifts an eyebrow and narrows the distance between his eyelids.

"Oh wow," one look at my watch and he should get the picture, "Break's over. I'll see you later." Dumbass.

The only problem with this brilliant idea of 'Pretending to Listen' is that some people just don't get it and continue to fill your precious silences with endless droning about nothing in particular. Some people, like Third Floor Office Guy, never stop trying no matter how evil or how rude I am.

Lunch break is welcome but in truth it's never long enough. I grab something from the vending machine and tell Shelia-or-something I'll be back in an hour. She smiles; tossing her long blonde hair behind her shoulders and waves me along. She continues her conversation with one of the other women in the office, commenting on how hot our boss is and how much she'd like to do this and that and whatever. The other girl laughs expectedly and I walk away, pleased that she didn't draw me in on that conversation.

Despite my boss's hot status, he's a prick and I hate him. He's a snake, a shark, a lawyer. I've hated him since the first day I met him. That was my interview. I was dismayed, but not surprised that my degree didn't get me a job as quickly as I'd hoped, so was forced to look for asinine and totally unrelated jobs to keep me going.

He spent my entire interview droning on and on about himself, talking about how young he was (twenty-two) and how he graduated at sixteen and went to Harvard Law School on scholarship and blah and how he blah and blah blah blah. I really don't know how I got the job.

Eating my candy on the way to the elevator, I think of various ways I could spend my break, but I always end up in the back, smoking a few and scribbling in my sketchbook. The doors open and I step inside. After going down a few floors the elevator stops and the doors open on the third. There's Third Floor Office Guy. I ignore him when he smiles and steps inside with several of his other colleagues.

Your Second Lesson:

I don't know why it is that people have the need to fill the awkward silences in elevators, but they do. I suppose it's the same overwhelming urge people have to talk to me, or the same to get up every day and grace me with their unwanted presence. I'm the type of guy that's silent in elevators, staring at the doors and willing everyone around me to shut up and endure the ride. They never do.

To successfully endure the awkward elevator silence it's best to be quiet and try to think of anything else other than the other assholes in the metal box around you. The space is limited, so make sure if you're the first one in, to claim an exorbitant amount of space so that people will stay a comfortable distance away. Stand and stare. That's all you have to do. If someone speaks, don't favor them with the slightest look because they will think you are interested in conversation or even worse interested in what they have to say.

"Clyde, right?" Third Floor Guy smiles when I make the mistake of looking at him out of the corner of my eye. How in the hell does he know my name? His colleagues shake their heads at him; they know about me. They don't work on my floor so I can be as rude as I want to them and not give a damn about it.

Third Floor Guy ignores them and grins pleasantly at me, holding out his hand, "I'm Sam. I work with the Locke Advertising…" he trails off nervously when I merely glare at his outstretched hand and leave it hanging there in midair all by itself. I turn my glare up to the lighted numbers at the top of the doors, wishing, praying that this elevator would just hurry the fuck up so I can get out of here.

I see him laugh nervously, in a cute sort of defeated way and thankfully he decides to end his attempt at conversation with me. He talks with his colleagues about whatever, laughing at their jokes a little too loud and annoying the hell out of me. I'm the first off the elevator when it stops, walking briskly to my car to get my cigarettes and my sketchbook. I really should work on updating my résumé, but I never do. Maybe some secret part of me wants to stay at this awful job and continue my miserable life as if I deserve it.

Third Floor Guy smiles and blushes when I look back and catch him staring at me. Flustered, he gets into the passenger side of a black Camry and they all drive away to what I assume is an hour of retarded small talk or gossip about who's cute in the office or if they are going to land the next deadline. I just roll my eyes at the retreating car, thankful that I don't have to put up with that for at least the next hour. I need a cigarette.