Slack Slacker Meets the Shadow People
Considering the company’s monthly production projections, quarterly operating expense reports and completed reviews of all newly hired employees are due today, it pains me to no end to advise you and the other dedicated, hardworking and conscientious team players, you’ll all have to pick up the slack during my absence today. Unfortunately, due to the most astounding set of circumstances, completely beyond my control, I found myself totally incapacitated by a phenomenon so fantastical, I wouldn’t share this truth with anyone but you. Allow me to explain.
It was about 3:33 PM when I realized many in the office were dragging along as they were still lamenting the election of Donald Trump. I actually witnessed some staffers openly sobbing. I knew if feelings were this intense two days after the announcement, someone had to step up and bring a little cheer back into this place. I decided to spring for a bunch of snacks with some beer and wine, for a little impromptu party to help those feeling down forget their sorrows for awhile. You know that’s the kind of guy I am. However, those good intentions weren’t rewarded as one would expect.
Grabbing my cell and some bum bucks for the low lifers always camped out in front our building, I made a beeline for the wine and liquor store. I’d only walked two, maybe three blocks, before I had the odd sensation of being followed. I glanced over my shoulder as inconspicuously as possible to see if anyone was too close for comfort but there was no one there. Paranoid? Maybe. But this is New York, so one can never be too careful. I continued on for several more blocks with the same sense that something was amiss. I was not alone and I could feel it in my bones. Although I couldn’t see who was following me, I perceived danger and that perception grew in intensity with every step I took. Instinctively, I knew I had to lose this person so I hailed a cab. And, that’s when my life was turned inside out.
When I jumped in the first Yellow that pulled over, before I could utter a word, my shadow gave the cabby directions to my favorite Tequila joint on the upper West Side of Manhattan. Without noticing I hadn’t moved my lips, the cabby followed my shadow’s instructions and headed towards the bar. Dumbfound and frightened, I sat quietly in the cab trying to process WTF was happening. I slid as close to the right side of the seat to put some distance between me and my talking shadow, but that obviously did little to help. My shadow followed. It’s what shadows do. I should have known this considering I haven’t had a drink since last week.
Arriving at the spot, I tossed the cabby the fare plus a tip and hurried inside with my talking shadow sticking to me like ugly on Whoopi Goldberg. Once seated at a booth, after having ordered a few shots to settle my nerves, my shadow said you’ve got a lot to learn tonight. I tried to ignore this “thing” because to do otherwise, onlookers would think I was crazy. On the other hand, I was in a bar with people who’d been drinking cheap booze for hours, so to see somebody talking to themselves wouldn’t exactly be a cause for concern. So I asked, “What the hell are you”? “I’m your shadow, stupid”, came a curt response. “Well, why is this happening?” I wanted to know. “I don’t like you”, was the next curt response. “I need a drink.” I said. “Go ahead, I’ll have one with you”, my shadow said. I had more than a few and so did my shadow.
Nearing my tipsy point, I asked my shadow why he was bothering me and how could he have a life of his own? My shadow explained, just because he was attached to me didn’t mean he had to like me as a host. According to him, there’s no law in physics that states shadows and the people they’re attached to have to be compatible. In fact, my shadow said a lot of shadows don’t like their host and when they don’t, they can make life miserable for them. My shadow went on to tell me how some shadows had driven their host screwy or made them appear that way to those who don’t believe. And nobody believes shit like this, he said. Still, despite what was happening, I had my doubts. What if I had gone nuts and didn’t know it? It’s not like I’ve never suspected going nuts would be a short trip for me, so I needed proof. And I’ll be damned if my shadow didn’t give it to me.
“Look closely at the people at the bar and tell me what you don’t see”, my shadow said. It only took seconds to realize, some of the patrons sitting on their bar stools had no shadows at all. But that was impossible, I thought. My shadow said some shadows hate their host so much, they’ve found ways to get away for awhile. Not far mind you, but they don’t have to be tethered to their host 24/7. “Go out in the alley and see for yourself. I’ll wait here”, my shadow said. So I did. And what I saw, scared the living shit out of me. I found nothing but shadows and voices of people hanging about. The creepy crowd chatted in whispers too low to be understood, but if I had to guess, they were exposing their hosts’ deepest and darkest secrets to one another. Just as I was thinking this was all too bizarre to be possible, my shadow appeared at my side to assure me, I was as sane as he was. It would be an understatement to say I wasn’t convinced.
I was a little afraid to ask, but I had to know why my shadow disliked me so. And when I did, his last curt response staggered me more than anything else that’d occurred all evening. My shadow said, “you work too much.” I was rocked to the core and I had to know more. My shadow said, he was the “real” slacker in this relationship and he favored a three day work week that I should’ve done something about years ago. My shadow complained, that I came to the office way too early and stayed way too late. He said the life I lived was too stressful and he wanted out. He demanded I take more time out for myself or he’d commit suicide. My shadow sounded serious, too. I wish I could tell you how the evening ended, but my shadow won’t give me any privacy. Besides, I’m afraid of him.
Unfortunately, since I have no idea what having a dead shadow means for me, I’m forced to take today off to determine if this is simply an episode of madness or if my shadow is correct and I’ve been giving too much of myself to this company. Perhaps a workers’ compensation claim is in order. Either way, with your prayers, I or we will return to work bright and early Monday morning to discuss the possibility of a reduced workload for awhile.
Yours Truly, Slack Slacker