What’s the penalty for honesty at work? I wondered as I pretended to work.
I stared out the window for a moment.
My heart skipped a beat when my boss entered the room. I froze.
Gotta look busy. Look valuable.
She quietly entered her office and shut the door.
What’s the penalty for my honesty? I pondered at I scrolled desperately through my social media feed for good news, a motivational post, or photographs of the nieces, nephews, and godchildren I never get to see.
There’s a seemingly immovable forty hour a week boulder in the middle of my existence. Unshakable. Immovable. Virtually unbreakable. Boulder.
I yawned. I stretched. I checked my text messages as I stretched.
I wondered. If I revealed to them… I’m overwhelmed. Can’t seem to get a foothold on the work. Can’t seem to get it together. Can’t tell whether its boredom or incompetence on my part.
My stomach hurt. Terrible gas.
I skipped breakfast. Late for work again. So much to think about. So much to do. So little time. Vacation was nothing more than the space between misery. Like work release or yard time. I was being melodramatic.
What if I revealed to them that they need not smile in my direction. I know you don’t like me. I know you think I’m incompetent– when I make a mistake– and beneath you. I know you think I was hired to work under you and serve you– which I probably was.
I stood. Stretch my legs.
What if I was honest with them about myself? What if I admitted to myself and to them that I was equally as fake? I don’t like you either. But I return your illusion with one of my own. Because I understand my role is to make them comfortable. And how crucial it is to the job, and my livelihood,
I sat. Powered the scanner.
I restarted the machine.
I softly pounded my fist on the desk.
I’m the only tool in the office not allowed to malfunction. And, the easiest to replace.
I slumped in my chair.
Can they tell I dig my nails into my forearms when they dress me down in front of my peers? Can they read in my eyes how much sleep I lose thinking about all the stuff I have to do the next day? Or the people I have to deal with. Or, how I can’t handle the amount of work they are tossing my way Probably not.
“Good Morning,” One of my smiley supervisors greeted.
“Good Morning,” I replied with a smile bright enough to overload a solar powered city.
“How’s everything going?” Smiley Supervisor asked.
“Excellent!” I replied as my face started to get sore from smiling. “Working on this and then I’ll head back and work on your stuff.”
“Okay, great!” Smiley Supervisor said, returning to her office.
Couldn’t afford to be honest. No matter how hard I crunched the numbers, I just couldn’t afford it.