Last week was rough, but then again I don’t recall any week of work that hasn’t been grueling for one reason or another. I have been enduring stress-related pains such as upper back strains; many years ago I ended up getting such aches checked, and they confirmed that they were caused by stress. Last Monday, as I was standing on the bus on my way to the hospital complex where I work, I got the characteristic migraine aura that impedes my sight. In addition, every migraine seems to reduce my IQ for as long as it lasts, likely due to changes in the blood flow to my brain. Whenever I get one I fear that I’ll end up with permanent brain damage, which is apparently possible. Anyway, I always carry some ibuprofen with me, but I still had to deal with the resulting headache, that lasted two days.
I have forgotten the details of the many problems I had to solve at work; they have blurred into the general hellish sensation of navigating around in a hospital complex during a record-breaking heat wave while wearing a lab coat. I’m likely still depressed, which may explain part of why I’ve found half of my coworkers utterly unbearable these past few weeks. A group of them ruins whatever passes for peace in the office whenever they are present; although they are in their forties and fifties, they behave like children in a playground, bickering about stuff unrelated to work or goofing around with each other so loudly that if I were in charge of this place I would have admonished them almost daily. I’m forced to wear earplugs so I can concentrate on whatever the hell I’m doing.
The most bitter moment for me was a quarrel I had this Friday with a coworker. We are both preparing to pass a public examination in a few months, which requires the students to buy about twelve expensive textbooks. This guy and I decided to divide the purchases between us. He bought four and I bought about eight. It happened that way because he had already bought the first four, and I went ahead and bought the remainder. He decided to go through the trouble of paying a stationery store, or however they are called in English, to remove the spines and covers of the books, then use the industrial printers we have at the office to scan them, a process that he said took like a minute and a half per book. He then gave me access to a single folder of his Google Drive that only contained the scanned books in PDF format.
This guy is more than a bit paranoid, the kind who’ll get weird with you if he realizes you are talking to someone who may dislike him or have an issue with him for one reason or another. He told me that under no circumstance should I download the books on my workstation, because some other coworker may snatch them. I obliged him. After all, I could just go to the shared folder and open them there. I didn’t download most of them at home either, because I could access that folder.
I’m the second person that enters the office every morning. This guy is always the first one; he starts an hour early because it’s more convenient for him. Anyway, four of the five days of the week he wasn’t at his workstation when I came in, which was odd. We only greeted each other in passing otherwise.
At about ten in the morning on that Friday, I tried to open one of the PDF files located in the shared folder, so I could study for a bit between tasks. I found out that this coworker had revoked my access. This was a folder of his Google Drive that contains the digital versions of eight books that I paid for, and four that he did. Nobody else had access to this folder. He made the very conscious decision of shutting my access down.
Through Google Drive’s interface, I sent him a petition to regain access, saying that I hadn’t downloaded all the books. From my position I can see enough of his screens that I’m quite sure that he opened that request (I recognized the layout of the website), and let out a derisive chuckle. He wasn’t talking to anyone.
I gave him five minutes or so to grant me access again, but he didn’t. I was fuming. It was such a pointlessly malicious thing to do, to revoke access to a folder that just contains stuff that both of us had purchased, and for a shared purpose that won’t be resolved until October or November. There was no way I couldn’t interpret this except as a “fuck you” to me. In truth, I hadn’t gotten so internally enraged for good while, and it harkened me back to the years I had to live with my seven-years-younger sister, who stole money and jewelry from her family members to fund her drug habit, and in general started arguments and conflicts of every kind because she couldn’t tolerate boredom. I also grew to understand that although I’m a laid back person and I want as little conflict with people as possible (internally I’m often on the verge of brutally murdering someone), some will step on people like me because they consider us easy targets that won’t retaliate. I knew I had to confront my coworker about this immediately.
I walked up to him as we were surrounded by six or so other coworkers. I told him that I give him the benefit of the doubt, but that he must reinstate my access to the folder, because I hadn’t gotten to download all the books. This guy usually turns around on his chair with a self-assured smile as soon as anyone approaches him, but this time he remained still for my entire part of the dialogue, as if he went “oh shit” internally. That was my impression anyway. He told me that he didn’t know what I was talking about. I asked him whether or not he had revoked my access to the folder. He told me that he had, because he thought I would have already downloaded the files (why revoke my access, though, to a folder that just contains those files, when there’s no security risk?). I reminded him how particular he got about not downloading the books at work; I’m not sure if he opens the books at the office, but I did tell him that I was studying them when I’m not busy. Anyway, he told me that he would reinstate my access. I proceeded to immediately download all the PDFs and store them in a pen drive.
He didn’t speak to me again, and in fact he still hasn’t, but when I got home from work I had received two emails. The first one said that he thought I would have downloaded the files already, and that he had meant not to download them at work. The second email, in a sterner tone, told me to download the files this weekend because he would revoke my access again early on Monday. I still have access to the folder, though.
After this nonsense, I want to cut back on dealing with people in person as much as humanly possible. Due to autism, my brain simply can’t tell others’ intentions as normal people apparently can, and due its inability to process and register people’s faces properly (prosopagnosia; bad enough that I have no clue if I ever saw again people I was romantically involved with), I can’t read much on their faces. I’ve always had to distrust people to survive; I get taught that lesson over and over again. I just can’t ever know when someone is going to fuck me over, and the intentions and motivations of people often seem incomprehensible to me.
Obviously my job isn’t fulfilling; I only work to add money to my bank account at the end of the month. And I can only consider it tolerable because I have no social life nor a family of my own. When I get back home, half of the week I barely have the energy to stay awake. At the most I can invest two hours and a half of lucidity into whatever scene of my novel I’m working on at the moment. During my last long-term relationship I was so exhausted and mentally worn out from my nine-to-five job that I once took the train in the opposite direction by mistake, and I didn’t find out for forty minutes because I fell asleep; and after I went to my then girlfriend’s place just to spend the afternoon together, I sat on her sofa and passed out. She was mad at me often during those last months because I barely had the energy to shamble around.
Having to keep a job is truly a disaster, as it steals the most valuable things of your life: your time and your energy that should be spent on stuff that matters. Obviously I wish I could write from morning to night, which I’ve done gladly whenever I’m unemployed. However, if you expect to make a living writing, you are delusional; you may as well base your future on winning the lottery. It’s always been in part about having the right connections, but these days you need to belong to some preferred group and have the right opinions as well.
I’m getting assailed by the intrusive thoughts that have visited me regularly for as long as I remember, and that suggest that I should kill myself and get this whole bullshit over with. When I think about why I still stick around, I can only come up with the following: I want to finish my current novel, I have some campaigns of Arkham Horror to play through, and one of these days both ‘Victoria 3’ and ‘Starfield’ will get released. Otherwise, the sensory issues that autism causes make navigating virtually any environment a low-level torture (or even trauma inducing), at least beyond the confines of a locked room containing only me. I’m always bloated and gassy, and several times during the workday I’m even on the verge of shitting myself, due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome that I can’t regulate because it’s linked to anxiety, and I’m always anxious whenever I’m around people. I deal with life-long health issues caused in part by the pituitary tumor with which I was born. Virtually every interaction with other human beings in person is damn near unbearable. The intimate relationships I got involved in, until I gave up in my early-to-mid twenties, were humiliating, painful, forced me to run on a treadmill to fulfill someone else’s wishes and goals although mine remained neglected, and in the end those girls/women just left. I don’t see myself ever wanting to have children, because I’d only curse them with conditions that make me wish I wasn’t born; besides, I’d be a horrible father because I can’t give enough of a shit about anyone, even myself. I can’t look forward to the future on this continent, because in a generation or two Europe will become an extension of Africa and the Middle East, and I lack any support system to move elsewhere. It seems inevitable that one day the growing mountain of painful memories and traumas will tip the scales in favor of getting the hell out of Dodge as soon as possible.
Right now I have to prepare a couple of computers and hook them up to the network, and this afternoon I’ll work on my next scene. I’m close to finishing its first draft already. How did Cioran put it? “Man starts over again everyday, in spite of all he knows, against all he knows.”