Tales from The Trenches Archive

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I don’t know if this has a moral…

I worked for about eight months testing budget games before I came to my senses and decided I was worth more than that. Though the work wasn’t great, it wasn’t quite the sweatshop drudgery that some others have experienced. I don’t have any good stories about incompetent bosses or corrupt management, just memories of boredom and exhaustion… and one particular coworker, who I’ll nickname Paul.

Paul must have liked to “wake and bake”, because for the two months I knew him, he came in five days a week, every week, with bloodshot eyes and smelling like he’d just doused himself in air freshener to cover up a different smell. He always had this laid back attitude and spoke slowly and casually.

We all talked about him being blazed behind his back, good natured joking, of course, because he was never an irritation to anyone. Nobody ever had the guts to ask him about it to his face, and he never brought it up himself, but we all knew.

At first we all figured he’d work for a couple weeks and they would let him go for lack of productivity, but he’s the thing - he *kicked ass* at his job. I don’t know if being in an altered state of mind helped him divine bugs, but he was cranking out reports left and right, finding problems the rest of us would have never dreamed of. Our behind-his-back conversations took on an air of admiration. I respected the guy for what he accomplished and tried never to begrudge him for making us all look lazy in comparison.

Then one day, walking back from the bathroom, I overheard the boss having a conversation with him. “Paul, you come in every day with your eyes bloodshot, and you seem slightly disconnected. You do good work, but I want you to start getting more sleep.”

I still don’t know if the boss was trying to give him a subtle hint, or he was actually clueless where those bloodshot eyes came from, but after that, Paul started coming in to work sober, and his productivity dropped like an ACME anvil. Two weeks later, he stopped coming into work altogether.

May be there’s a lesson in there, but I probably shouldn’t look for one.
Good luck Paul. I hope you wore sunglasses to your next job.