My anxiety has been building for a few days now. I took one of my emergency pills last night to stem the tide. I may have bought another day. I tried not to think about it. I tried to think heavily about it. I went to bed early, stayed up late. But I can feel the panic attack dogging me around the corner of every day, waiting to sink its teeth in and shake until my flesh comes loose of the bone.
Every little thing goes wrong. I'm fumbling all that I touch. A pen goes tumbling against the tips of my fingers as if it were sand, falling through the fluttering gaps, helplessly. I only half try to catch it. I bend over to pick it up and I'm not surprised when my ipod falls out of my shirt pocket, crashing sharply against the ground in the process. I pick up the ipod and drop the pen again. I set the ipod on the counter and try to reclaim the stupid fucking pen.
I go to write something down and realize there was a pen laid across my open notebook all along. I exhale evenly through gritted teeth.
I spent all day feigning sincerity, trumping up my good will and selling off mental real estate to my employer. I'm not a mean spirited man, but being nice isn't enough in my place of work. We need to stand out. We have to give a larger than life customer experience- so I have to deliver vaudeville performances of customer service. People are genuinely offended if I don't act like their presence is the most important thing that will happen to me today, and my employer will not stand for anything less. People will say things like, "What's wrong with customer service this day and age?" when the worthier question might be, "What's wrong with customers?"
I've been spit at, cursed at, hung up on mid sentence and completely ignored when greeting people five feet away. Today. And I've only had five customers.
Entitlement has spoiled us all. Since we mostly hate the work we do, resent its necessity, we perpetuate the cycle of abuse that we receive at our own places of work by shitting down the throats of customer servants whenever we get the chance. Some of them are more deserving of that blow, but I am not. It hurts most because I care and I can't make myself stop. I can't separate the good experiences from the bad. I feel it all. I am a paid punching bag for your bad day. Your unruly kids. Your small dick. Your cheating, whore husband.
It's wearing on me. My skin feels thin and translucent. I want to be more than my job, but I am growing closer to the image of what they expect me to be and further from the image of myself that I drew when I was 9.
I put the pen I had trouble holding onto into a drawer, mentally noting where I put it so that I can retrieve it once I've inevitably lost the one resting on my notebook that I now remember leaving in that location so that I could find it when I lost the pen before.
I breathe deep for a second, closing my eyes and trying to let go of the tension in my shoulders. The tendons that reach into the back of my skull ache, they're pulled tight, like weathered, overplayed, rusted steel guitar strings. I open my eyes and look down at the page, blank now as my mind.
I forgot what I was going to write.