I of course like the rest of us have not only heard and read of the vaguely deadening effect of sitting in front of a computer screen all day, or underneath a tinny fluorescent light tube in a cubicle, but’ve experienced it firsthand. It’s like light nausea with an angsty tilt to it. And while I had work-related meetings every day last week, those meetings were fairly brief, and nothing at all like the stuff we’re getting up to this week: full shifts, seven hours, sitting in front of the computer screen and watching it to see if any students come in for tutoring.
In the last three hours of my shift I was talking through a headset with two colleagues who are also two of my closest friends and I suddenly felt myself getting angry, and warm. I checked the thermostat, but it was low, and the vents were huffing at full blast. I was hungry, but the thought of eating grossed me out. I wanted to commiserate with my collaegues about it, but I was too agitated, I knew that if I tried to express the frustration I’d start tripping over words and only get angrier.
So I figured, as I often do when subject to a sudden shapeless anger, that I should probably eat something, and so I ate something, and afterward I felt slightly better, but not great, and so I told my one remaining colleague that I was gonna turn off my mic and that, since I was fairly sure there would be no students for the rest of the day, I would be here writing, and he could buzz me if he needed help.
Gracious as ever, he agreed to it, and over the next two hours I drank the bottom half of a colada and wrote a ten-page podcast script, laughing and getting myself excited in the process.
With ten minutes left in our shift I got back on the mic with my colleague, who’d spent the downtime watching a disaster movie on Netflix, and we talked shop for a bit before signing off.
I slapped my computer shut a little harder than was either necessary or wise, pulled my shoes on, and left for an hourlong walk through the neighborhood until the last beam of dusk gave itself over to dark. Now I’m back at the desk, writing about the day, and though I’m feeling way better, physically and emotionally, I do still feel this dull angry throb, like I’ve been robbed of something more than just my time.