“Well, what is it?” I asked. “Is it the water here or something in the office air? Is this some Erin Brockovich shit or something?”
Dr. Susnow explained that he was able to rule out the water and air because two of the six employees who suffered from the same symptoms worked in two different satellite offices.
“I have a theory,” he said, “but it’s only a theory.” He stopped.
“Well, what is it?” I demanded, growing impatient.
“Hmm, I don’t know if I should tell you because, like I said, it’s only a theory and, really, I need more time to think about it. Telling you now would be premature.”
“You gotta tell me. I’m dying here. I can barely get out of bed in the morning. I can’t go on like this. I just can’t.”
“O.K., O.K. I’ll tell you but this doesn’t go beyond this room. You must promise met that. If this theory is true, which I hope it’s not, it will disrupt the entire order of things as they now are. Do you understand me?”
I sat down in the psychiatrist’s chair and opened up to him about my problems–fatigue, depression, low sex drive.
“Have you seen a doctor?” he asked. “Do you think you are ill or have a virus?”
I told him that I knew I wasn’t sick because my energy often popped back on the weekends, usually by noon on Saturdays.
“Oh,” the doctor said. He now had a worried look on his face. “Interesting. Very interesting.”
“What is it?” I asked. The doctor’s worried look caused me to worry. “What’s wrong with me?”
“You’re the sixth employee who’s come to talk to me about the exact same symptoms in the past three months. This is more than a coincidence. And there may be many more who haven’t come forward yet.”
The day of my diagnosis I wore a wrinkle resistant Club Room dress shirt that was pale blue with white checks. The horizontal white lines were slightly bolder than their vertical brethren. I thought it was an illusion at first but it’s not.
My pants were black with white pin stripes that were so faint they were barely noticeable. I was violating a cardinal Biz Caz rule by wearing checks with stripes. However, I hoped the stripes in my pants were so faint that I could get through the day undetected. I hadn’t even noticed them until I put them on in my office.
I had bought the pants at a Banana Republic one weekday morning after I was caught in a torrential rainstorm that drenched my Banana Republic chinos. Not wanting to spend the day in wet clothes I made the trip to the Banana Republic that is conveniently and appropriately located at the center of all the downtown office buildings. The store was crowded for 10:15 a.m. It was filled with other water-logged office workers.
I tapped lightly on the door with the big knuckle of my middle finger. Dr. Susnow turned from his computer screen to face me. He was wearing a sky-blue, long-sleeve cotton dress shirt. He had short, curly brown hair that was receding a bit and a bushy mustache.
I thought he resembled Magnum P.I. until he stood to greet me and I noticed that instead of cutoff jeans, he wore pleated khaki pants with a braided belt that held a cell phone holster with the cell phone, an empty Blackberry holster and a pager. It was a rare hat trick of belt-supported electronica; a mid-manager’s tool belt, if you will. He looked like what Magnum P.I. would have looked like if Magnum moved back to the mainland and got a job at Best Buy.
Dr. Susnow stood and shot his hand toward me. “You must be Robert,” he said. I hesitated. I was still stuck on the fact that Magnum P.I. wore cutoff jeans. I’d never thought about it until just now. I wondered if Jeans Friday would evolve (or devolve, depending on one’s perspective) to the point where cutoff jeans are acceptable.
I finally reached out and shook the doctor’s hand. “Just call me Rob,” I said.
Posted in One Man's Diagnosis of Biz Caz Blues
Tagged Best Buy, Blackberry, Business Casual, Diagnosis, Dockers, dress code, holster, Magnum P.I., Mustache, Pager, Psychiatry
I fell into a funk around the time I graduated from college and started my office job. The symptoms weren’t severe at first. I didn’t feel depressed. It was more of a lack of energy than sadness. All the enthusiasm and spirit of my college years were gone. My senses were muted.
I figured my body was adjusting to waking up to a screeching alarm at 7 a.m. after years of rising naturally at 10 or 11 a.m. After several months passed and my symptoms hadn’t improved, I started to feel depressed. I hadn’t felt so drained since I had mono my junior year in high school or after I got that three foot bong for my 20th birthday.
I started to get desparate. Early one morning, before my coworkers arrived and I was all alone in the maze of cubicles, I put my phone’s head set on and dialed the four-digit extension of the office’s staff psychiatrist. (Apparently, enough of my colleagues felt the way I did for the office to have a full-time shrink.) Three rings and no answer. This is silly, I thought to myself. Just as I extended my index finger to the “end call” button on my Cisco phone, there was an answer. “This is Dr. Susnow,” the voice on the other end said.
I wanted to hang up but I knew that his caller ID exposed my identity.
“Um, uh,” I stuttered. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have called.”
“No,” he said forcefully. “You called for a reason. Come to my office at noon. We’ll talk then.”
The next thing I heard was a dial tone. I exhaled as I placed the head set on my desk. Sean from three cubes away shouted, “Sup,” and smacked me on the back of my head as he walked by, causing me to jump out of my chair. I stood and surveyed the grey and beige room to make sure no one had overheard my conversation. Luckily, it was just Sean and me.