Current Occupation: Direct Care Counselor for Youth Experiencing Homelessness
Former Occupation: Student Justice Advocate and Manager of a Bookstore
Contact Information: Chelsey Clammer is an award-winning and Pushcart Prize nominee essayist. Her writing has appeared in The Nervous Breakdown and The Rumpus. She has work forthcoming in South Loop Review and New Delta Review. Clammer is the Managing Editor and Nonfiction Editor for The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review. You can see more of her writing at: www.chelseyclammer.com.
The rules rip away your sanity. And this isn't even about the dress code or the monitored internet usage or the expected and proper implementation of words such as “thought partnership” and “overcommunication” and “cloudbrary.” This is about the same shit every day of do this, no do this, no don't do that, and no—just don't. It’s a different day. It’s the same shit.
The same shit consists of: where are those meeting minutes, file this file, you're late, think of the stakeholders, now listen to me, if you had my experience.
Your boss same-shits you on every day that ends in the letter “y.” You used to think that expression was funny. But after a few months of taking orders from a boss who fucks off more than you do but gets paid thrice the amount that you do (you're not supposed to know that, but you know it because you know how to hack into the executive shared network, and you do so on a regular basis purely out of boredom), you find nothing funny. Because you're broke and semi-working and she's rich and barely-working. Because even though you take a forty-five minute “smoke break” (she does not like that you smoke–it's very unprofessional) in which you really go to buy a Lotto ticket (you need the money to get out of here), in the small amount of time you are actually in the office (which is a blessing as she for some god-only-knows reason agreed with your plead to work remotely part-time), in those two and a half days that you actually sit at this desk under this strobing florescent light that you worry will give you a stroke or an aneurysm, you notice she does even less than you do. No one is watching over her. You buy your Lotto ticket with a prayer pouring out of your body. You walk back to the office as she exits the building with a “stakeholder” to grab some mid-day drinks. You hide behind a car so she does not see you. You do not feel lucky.
The honeymoon period of your new job lasted for a few months but ended the moment she berated you for being five minutes late, and then the next day berated you for leaving five minutes early. Yes, after that two-month-new-job-honeymoon-period you wanted a divorce. Three months later the separation is final as they re-assign you a new supervisor. But she is too pliable, too nice, and bows down to your old supervisor who, funny enough, is actually your new supervisor's supervisor, and so your old supervisor uses this “coincidence” to do more than keep tabs on you but actually spends a good third of the 7.75 hours a day in which she does nothing at work but hawk-eye you. And so your divorce has turned into an intensely tacit custody battle over how you spend your time.
It is a week later. You are almost alone in the office. You watched the lot of your insipid and robotic coworkers take off a half hour before 5pm. You noted how your old supervisor saw the procession of her employees leaving early and how she said nothing about it. You stay. And you will stay until your old supervisor leaves. Though now your old supervisor who pushed around your new supervisor so much that she terrorized her so badly that your new supervisor finally broke and relinquished her duty of guiding you in your successful implementation of the agency’s core values to your old supervisor who is now, thus, back to being your commander. She sits in her own desk down the hall. It is just the two of you. You stay and you will stay until she walks by your office on her way out the door.
Eventually, she walks by your office on her way out the door. But first, she pops her head in because if she didn't pop her head in then it would seem like she was ignoring you, which is so not what she's doing, because what she is really doing is scrutinizing you, as always.
Yeah. I want to have this report done before Wednesday.
But we don't need it until Friday.
I know. I just want to get a jump start on it so we can have time to collaboratively edit it.
That's a good idea. I like how you are changing and working on all of your weaknesses that we determined last week.
Well, goodnight. See you tomorrow.
And the exit door opens, and the exit door closes, and you are now really alone, because now she is gone and now you can breathe. You sit at your desk staring at your computer screen, staring not at the report you haven't even started yet (it is Tuesday), but at level thirty-nine of Bejewled and deciding if you should harvest the 25,000-coined Moonstone now or wait. You have been playing this game since noon.
You wait fifteen minutes after her departure to make sure she really did leave, that she's not hiding, not waiting to catch you leaving after you said you were staying because you wouldn't put it past her to do that. After fifteen more minutes of Bejewled and after clearing out your computer's browsing history, you get the hell out of there before any more of your sanity can crack.
And it is the next day. A different day. A new day. You walk into your office at precisely 9:02am, and there she is, leaning against your desk, her arms crossed, a smirk on her face as she looks up at the clock hanging above the employee bulletin board and you take a deep breath to prepare yourself for however it is she will same-shit you today.