Last First Day

It was my first day of work. I’ve lost count of how many of these I’ve had.

You know that movie where the guy lives the same day over and over again until he learns his lesson? That was funny and a little heart-warming. This has been anything but. I’m not an asshole. I donate to charity. Volunteer my time. And don’t treat people like dirt. As far as I can tell, I don’t need any big lesson.

Also, my day isn’t funny. I don’t rob banks. I don’t jump off buildings. I don’t even skip work. I keep worrying that this will be the last first day, and I’ll have to live (or not!) with the consequences of whatever I do this time around. No one would ever make a movie out of this.

Just as I had many times before, I sat down at my new desk and turned on my computer. I had been hired to work on a new project. No one could tell you what the point was, but I was to do it. For a long time (an increasingly meaningless concept), I thought if I could finish it in one day, that would make a difference. It didn’t. For one thing, it was impossible to finish in one day. For another, working as hard and fast I could, the only change was my boss calling me back into his office at the end of the day to tell me how impressed he was with my efforts.

I had decided, instead, to go back to a slower pace. If today was the last first day, I didn’t want to have raised expectations too high. After about an hour, my boss summoned me to give me his “welcome to the company” speech. I had it memorized.

It was the same thing at lunch. I had gotten to hear about every single coworkers’ weekends many times over. For my own sanity, I had begun to sit alone. They probably thought I wasn’t friendly or something, but that was better than being actively rude by yawning or rolling my eyes at the same old stories.

The rest of the workday was usually easy. No one interrupted my work, so I wasn’t sitting waiting for it. It was monotonous, but quiet. I just went over the same numbers I had gone over dozens (or was it hundreds?) of times before.

The work day came to an end, which should have been a relief, but it just meant the worst was yet to come. A good friend had set me up on a blind date. She was a nice enough person. Smart and interesting. But for me, it was no longer blind. I knew everything about her that a first date could reveal. Pushing the conversation deeper would make me seem too intense or intrusive. And there is only so much small talk any two people can have. But she was a friend of my friend, and I wanted to be a decent date. So I sat through it once again. I would probably enjoy it more if there was a chance at a second date.

Then it was back to my apartment. It was the one time I let myself behave differently than normal. I drank two bottles of wine before eventually passing out. Sometimes it was beer. Or whiskey. Just for a change. If I ever get through this first day, I’m going to have a massive hangover. It will have been worth it though. It numbs the dullness of routine that had long ago come to define my life.

If this were a movie, this would be the story of my last first day. But I already told you that no one would make this into a movie. And sure enough, tomorrow was another first day.

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