Two Memes From the Pit
October 14th, 2023 | Fifty-Fiction
8.2 Minute Read (11.2 if you watch the videos)
The first few years I worked in an office, I was put into this sort of open pit of a cubicle with three other people. We were at the end of the cubicle alley and it was made from the leftovers of older cubes the company had lying around. They had too many people on the floor so they kinda just shoved four of us into two and a half cubicles worth of desks and cabinets or whatever and we all sat at about two or three feet from one another in what can only be called an "open-floor-plan-cubicle-cluster."
We quickly started calling our shared work zone the Pit of Despair.
One of the pitmates was this old dude named Gene who was very, very old and would print out every single email he received, write his responses on them, then walk over to coworkers and try to have them read his handwritten responses on physical paper while they were sending and receiving dozens of requests/responses per hour via, ya know, regular email. I personally kinda hated Gene and how bad he was at his job and how inefficient he was and how much more money he got paid than me. His single redeeming quality was that he brought in a little portable radio every single day and would play some top 40 station at a low volume. Loud enough for the pit, no doubt, but low enough not to bother the rest of the company.
At the time, the song "We Are Young" was playing on the radio all the time; this song became a quasi-anthem for me and my one cubicle brother that I got along with best. Whenever the song came on, we would experienced a shared-daydream of people running through the woods at full sprint. These people had devolved to something feral, something so radically different than our current world of pecking keys and clicking mice to death across a thousand spreadsheets over and over and over again to make some giant fucking company more money. These were wild people, running through the forest and throwing rocks at animals and shit.
♫Tonight, we are young, and we are scantily clad weaving through the trees at speed, the modern world has collapsed♫
This song was legit everywhere that year. I distinctly remember it was the song used in the commercial for the Chevy Sonic. Amongst other things, Rob Dyrdek kick flipped the car off a launch ramp in that commercial. No, for real:
So when I fell asleep at the wheel of my twelve year old car on the highway while driving home from work and rear-ended someone and completely totaled my car (the other car had virtually no damage to it & the driver and passengers were all fine,) one of the first thoughts I had in my mind was "Well at least now I can get that car that can do a kick flip."
The other initial thought I had in that moment was "fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck."
It’d be a bit too perfect or whatever to say that "We Are Young" was playing on the radio as my eyes slowly closed and my head finally nodded down as I drifted off to sleep before crashing into the car ahead of me. I don’t think that song was playing, but I can’t be sure, I was asleep. It's possible. Anything's possible.
(Disclaimer: don’t fall asleep while operating a vehicle on the highway.)
I think I crashed my car on a Wednesday and I took my kick flippable car to work by that Friday. Even though we worked 100% via computers (except Gene, you old fuck) there was no flex schedule, no Friday Summer hours, no work from home when you need to or whatever. You went into work and worked, Monday thru Friday. I still know people who work at the same place today and they tell me that they go in maybe once every two or three weeks. Some of them haven’t gone into the office in years.
Anyway - back at the open pit of asshole office drones, aside from imagining ourselves running through the woods at full sprint (but somehow in slow motion) we also would quote Moneyball all the time. Well, it was one specific quote from Moneyball since none of us had actually seen the movie but the trailer was on TV at the time a lot. It featured Brad Pitt saying "adapt or die" at one point. He also flips over a desk in a completely unrelated scene, earlier in the trailer. This morphed into our minds as Brad Pitt yells "adapt or die" and then flips the desk. We would yell out "adapt or die" and then mime flipping a desk over as a meme amongst our pit-selves whenever we ended up sending something shitty to random coworkers for them to get done, or when we ourselves were handed a pile of work with a short turn-around expected.
At some point the desk was replaced by your laptop. Yell "adapt or die" and then you mime taking your laptop with both hands and just hucking that thing as hard as you can at the nearest wall. This was how we survived in a soul-defeating boring beige cubicle hell. That and a thousand cups of coffee a day and happy hours at least twice a week and more junk food than seems possible or even enjoyable. Short-term joy to get through long-term misery.
I like to think I’m well past that life now. The pit was eventually dismantled and the pit heathens were separated either by random desk assignment or by job changes. I don’t talk to any of those dudes anymore but I like to think if I saw one of them out in the wild somewhere, we’d exchange knowing glances to one another in between our naked strides through the forest, our breaths unable to be caught as we hunt down a wild animal for food. Our mouths are drooling blood, maybe it's our own, maybe it's from an animal, maybe it's a bit of both. We haven't seen a spreadsheet in years. Not a single one.
Oh, I also found out that Gene is living his best life down in Florida now. He’s dead, he’s living in the ground, but he’s doing his best.
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for reading.
Filed Under: Essays