The Fleeting Passage of Time
If you feel like time is standing still, start a blog. The time between posts just flies by.
In these days of overexposure on a plethora of social media platforms, blogging is almost quaint. Now the only people who spend any time doing it are marketing interns creating content that almost nobody reads, and forlorn playwrights with insomnia.
I had another blog once. Started at the height of the craze, it was an almost anonymous catalogue of thoughts; most of which were my own. Whatever happened to that blog? As I try to remember it, I can almost remember the last post. I had been making the transition out of the professional corporate track of human resources and into the transactional world of administrative minutia. I’d worked for almost three years for a tech start-up, making almost no money but enjoying that world for the most part. When the financiers pulled the plug, I almost immediately found another job with a similar company.
Note to self: don’t take any job out of desperation. Ever.
For six months I worked for a digital marketing firm that was painfully aware of how hip and cool it was. And man, was it staffed with some hip and cool people, who went out of their way to be hip and cool. Being hip and cool is hip and cool when you’re in your twenties, which a few of these people were at the time. When you’re in your thirties the effort at being hip and cool begins to show. And when you’re in your forties… well, it’s not pretty. It’s high school electrified. I have never been hip and cool. In my teens I wanted to be hip and cool, but an army of other high schoolers made sure that would never happen and I resigned myself to nerdom early on. By the time I found myself working for a digital marketing firm there was no hope of my ever being anything but luke warm. Yet here I was, desperately trying to be a functioning member of a painfully hip and cool culture so I could pay my mortgage.
Over the years I’ve experienced a colorful variety of sexual harassment, from the relatively benign micro aggressions (to borrow and hip and cool term) to the aggressive physical assaults. But it was working at the digital marketing firm that I actually knew it was happening, while it was happening. When a person is assaulted, time stops. You don’t really believe you’re hearing what you’re hearing. You don’t necessarily experience the shock until after the moment has passed. But here, I knew it was happening as it was happening. Granted, it didn’t take a genius to know what was going on. And even though several decades had passed since I’d actually had a human actually mock me for the entertainment of the other hip and cool people, the visceral feeling was immediately recognizable.
My phone rang. I was working the reception desk, so I was obligated to answer. Cheefully. I did. On the other end of the phone was a nasal voice telling me he needed help with optimizing sales on his website. Before I could tell him that I'd be happy to transfer him to the appropriate analyst, he began describing in great detail the sex toys he sold on his website and he wanted to know if I had any knowledge of such toys.
The caller ID showed the call was coming from the president of the company.
I explained, politely, that we were a digital marketing firm and that we had the staff and expertise to help him maximize sales on his website. Then he literally giggled. He was on a speaker phone, and heard another person giggle. But it wasn't the giggling that made me realize what was going on. It was that involuntary stomach flip I hadn't felt since high school, that familiar vague nausea that told me what I was dealing with.
Finally, unable to control his smug satisfaction did the president of the company identify himself and bask in the tsunami of laughter on the other end of the phone.
"Scott, it's David!"
"Yes. I know. That's what it says on my caller ID. How can I help you David?"
"Oh, nothing. Nothing. We were just playing a little joke."
"OK. Well, let me know if there's anything I can do for you."
And because I was made painfully aware of how expendable I was, there really was nothing I could do except let them know that I knew what they were doing by calling the HR person and telling her that if something like this ever happened again, I would own the company. They waited three more months before terminating my employment. I spoke with six attorneys, all of whom said I had a case, but it was the last one who described what the next eighteen months would be like. I concentrated my efforts on finding a more suitable paycheck.
It is that last post on my long-lost blog I can see in my mind, with the picture of my boss I’d taken just before they terminated my employment. That phlegmatic, shiny-faced grin that actually can still stop me in my tracks and making typing the end of a sentence almost impossible.
But you go on because as chilling as such a memory can be, the thought of yet another unattended blog taking up space on the Internet is enough to motivate a late-night playwright to finish another sure-to-be-unread blog post.