After five months of unemployment and dancing at the edge of homelessness, I had started to think that no job could be too bad. Then I landed a gig in the insurance business. In order to survive, I’ve learned to rely on humor, and I was gonna need a lot of it to pull the gig off. You see, humor is the only thing between me and the dark void; the last thing keeping me from grabbing a pen and stabbing the idiots around me in the neck on a daily basis. Sadly, most people at that office didn’t share my sense of humor, and three particular Tuesdays before my time in the insurance business came to an end showed me just how different our humors were and how much my job sucked.
The first incident came at a time where cops killing unarmed folks and idiots saying All Lives Matter were sitting at the top of the list of things that made me angry. I was sitting there, blood boiling, when an obese lady flew into the office with glee plastered on her face and screamed “There’s free donuts in the break room!” In her heard, free donuts apparently deserve the same celebration as the cure for cancer, and as a donut lover, the news made my day. Ten minutes later, I heard the man who worked behind me say that he was happy because Tuesday isn’t Monday and that was good enough for him. I bit my tongue. Hard. That’s when I decided to go to the break room, grab a donut, and try to choke on it.
The donuts looked sadder than those toys with missing limbs you spot on dirty puddles on your way to the grocery store on days when you miss the bus. I grabbed one and prepared a cup of horrible coffee to go with it because, when it comes to suffering, I want it all. With my donut and shitty coffee in hand, I turned to return to my desk and saw there were two elderly white ladies looking at the donuts the way dogs in cartoons look at steaks. They peeled their bovine peepers from the donut box and looked up at me. Then they smiled that creepy fake smile most office people give each other regularly and sent me back to my angry place. I looked at them and said in a venomous voice “I have a coffee and a donut; all I need now is to shoot a few unarmed black folks and I’ll be a real cop.” Okay, it was not a joke, but someone else, someone like me, would have appreciated the humor in that comment. Not them. Their faces melted. Their smiles withered. Shock left its previous apartment and moved into their eyes. I left the break room, their traumatized eyes burning holes in my back.
The following weeks I tried my best to keep my mouth shut, but silence feeds the existential dread that bubbles at my core, so a few mornings later, again on a Tuesday, I was cracking a few jokes in order to stay sane. Most of them were so wrapped in sarcasm that no one even looked at me. My sarcasm in that office was like a wounded bird, flying erratically over every head in that office and generally being ignored or making folks look uncomfortable. I decided to shut up, so I grabbed my phone and started scrolling through Facebook to kill the tedium and get angry at the amount of assholes who have internet access. That’s when I saw a GIF of Elmo sitting on a potty and dancing. The words “Boss makes a dollar, I make a dime” were above him. The words “That’s why I poop on company time!” were below. I thought it was hilarious. I stood up, and did a little dance while singing the song. The look on the faces around me would make anyone think I’d just killed a baby by smashing its tiny, fragile head against my desk. I sat down and felt the suckage become a dense, cold tumor in the center of my soul. I don’t trust people who don’t enjoy a good poop joke.
Then another week rolled around. I was pretending to read an email while thinking about the last time I went to Portland to hang out with friends. A joke someone told came to mind and I chuckled. The guy who sits in front of me asked me what I was thinking about. Then this happened:
Me: “Nothing, man, just remembered a joke.”
Him: “Must be a good one. Tell it.”
Me: “No, I’m not telling this joke at the officee. It’s really dirty.”
Him: “Come on, man, tell us the joke.”
The quiet woman from New Orleans who sits to my right was looking at me. She was smiling and nodding.
Me: “No, trust me, this is the most inappropriate, filthy, absolutely disgusting joke you’ve ever heard. I’m not telling it.”
Lady from New Orleans: “I like my jokes a little red, Gabino!”
Him: “See? We can handle it. Tell us the joke, man.”
Me: “I really shouldn’t. You can’t imagine…”
Him: “Tell us the damn joke, man!”
I took a deep breath and told the joke.
Me: “Last night I was going down on my grandma…”
No one chuckled. Two other people were looking at me. The lady from New Orleans looked like she had two shoes full of maggots.
Me: “…when I tasted horse semen…”
I heard a grunt. I think New Orleans lady gaged. The douche who had insisted I tell the joke looked three seconds away from crying.
Me: “…and I thought to myself ‘I wonder if that’s how she died.’”
No one laughed. They refused to look at me. For days. Bunch of fucking soulless bastards. That’s a funny joke right there. Anyway, my job sucked and I’m done telling jokes on Tuesdays.