Joseph had been let go from his last job on a Friday, after refusing
to make an appointment to see the company's counselor. He was being
made out to look insane, his coworkers even gaslighting him daily. It
had started as he realized he was losing popularity in the office, and
gotten worse and worse as he had been driven out of the herd. He had
stayed calm about it for longer than almost anyone else could have.
It became too much, they would jam the printer or remove the paper
from it whenever he had to use it, they would move his coffee mug
around when he was focused on work, talking about him behind his back.
He saw the strange looks and knew they were conspiring against him.
They did their best to make even him believe he was insane, but he was
well-enough accustomed to normal, pathetic human behavior to see what
was truly going on.
When they finally fired him he sank into depression for months. It
wasn't the money, he had plenty to live on for years. It was the
feeling of being voted off the island, and having no idea how it had
even started. They had all just decided in unison that he should
leave. What had he even done? After being let go from the company,
he had made a firm decision not to put up with other people like that
anymore. He knew how to live frugally, switching to bottom-shelf
liquor and ramen noodles. He lived this way for months. No one
checked in on him, he wasn't close to family, they likely didn't even
know. No one at work cared enough about him to call and say hi, and
he had always cared about all of them. He had been agreeable to all
of them, and even felt like some of the blonde women there were
friends of his. What had happened?
He didn't even need a job, not in such a cruel environment, but he
didn't know what else to do with himself, so he began to apply at
other companies. He scored a few interviews but none of them led
anywhere. No one seemed to understand how cruel everyone had become
at the job he had worked at for years. Finally he was called into an
interview and knew the stars had aligned perfectly for him. A blonde
woman was the interviewer. Her hair was curly, beautiful locks
hanging around her face.
He knew the job was assured before the interview began, but he went
through all the motions perfectly. He was at his most professional,
acing every question. The subject of his former employment experience
came up, and because the interviewer was a blonde woman, it threw him
off a little bit. If anything it improved the situation. He
reflected on that a little bit as she continued to talk to him, maybe
employers were just worried he wouldn't fit in. Maybe he was letting
them win, coming across as crazy after the ordeal.
She had asked him a question and he missed what she said. Damn. It
probably wouldn't hurt him though. He asked her to repeat the
question, then couldn't focus as she asked again. Her wavy blonde
hair was beautiful, she combed it gently with her left hand, her
fingers like the tines of a fork. She sat looking at him, waiting for
him to answer the question, but he had missed it again. She looked a
little puzzled. She asked if he was distracted by something.
"It's your hair," he blurted out. "It's beautiful."
She exhaled sharply in surprise, her breath like steam rising off hot
water. Then she giggled a little and blushed, looking even more
puzzled. "Well, thank you..." she said.
"I could just eat a bowl of it," Joseph said. "Like ramen noodles.
With an egg in it."