A Joke at My Expense

Blurb: A short story that exploits my current situation and transforms me into a caricature.

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I want to moan, I want to whine and I want to vent. That’s all I want to do.

I have this horrible insatiable craving to wallow in self-pity.

I don’t have a job, and I all I can do about it, is complain. Conversations are on repeat with me, I have nothing new to say, mostly because, I haven’t anything new to talk about. I can’t do anything. I have no money.

Oh woe is me, I can’t do a thing.

All discussions with my friends drift back to the shame topic.

‘Oh Loser, pity you couldn’t join us… it was amazing!’

As all ‘it’s are.

‘I know, but I don’t have any money I’m afraid.’

‘So, how is the job hunt going?’

If it was going well, need I brag about how little money I have and how little society I see?

Why yes it is splendid, I am hunting all the time, shooting out CV’s and covering letter’s as if a whole flock of pheasants had burst forth from a single bush.

‘How impressive.’

Yes, I’m the best hunter and shooter in the world… I’m just not the best catcher.

‘You’ll get one soon, I’m sure of it.’

And so they have said, for the last three years.

Soon has a strange ability to span over decades, tricky devil; soon.

Such luxury. Such leisure these last three years have been, what with that delightful affair at Sainsbury’s that lasted two of those splendiferous years.

I ended up with Raynaud’s Disease thanks to that place. I had several freak collisions with their large metal rollers which resulted in my poor middle finger being rather badly squashed, several times I repeat.

Not sure how they knew to target the same finger, but they did, aaaaand now it goes ghostly white whenever it’s a bit chilly.

Cheers Sainsbury’s.

That’s my lasting impression from you.

And then I got this Internship, which has tallied over the past year. I spend my days reading and editing over three hundred stories a week.

Without pay.

Oh the joys of unpaid labour. You can’t tell me reading stories with my slippers on and a hot cup of tea isn’t gruelling work.

Oh wait it isn’t.

But the endless reading and editing and commenting is, especially when you’re not getting paid.

Honestly it is.

My eyes have gone completely square; they see only a muddle of pixels and words now. I have daily headaches and sore eyes, all because I’ve had to stare at a computer screen for far too long.

I leave my desk blindly wide eyed and zombified.

Like an owl forced to fly in an unnatural day.

‘So what are you looking for now? What are you going to aim for?’

The echoing questions chime in my ears. Each conversation is just a recording to me know, they all go the same way and I certainly don’t stray from the script. I read off my dialogue diligently and with the same enthusiasm as the scene before.

‘Anything Dear Sir or Madam. Anything but retail.’

‘Oh?’

I’m holding out for something that won’t turn me into a mindless drone. I actually enjoy using my brain.

So the job hunt goes on and I have no one to blame but myself, my pride and, of course, all those idiots who have chosen to not hire me.

I’m great.

It’s just hard turning ‘I’m great’ into a whole covering letter.

***

My cravings have been getting worse lately.

My pity pot keeps getting deeper every time I return to it and with each visit it’s getting harder for me to crawl back out.

The sides are becoming smooth underneath my frequent footing. I’m making it slippy with my tears and snot. With each hulk like punch to the floor I drive myself closer to the earth’s core.

Even though the release is only ever momentarily cathartic.

***

‘She whines all the time.’

‘God I know, it’s getting so annoying.’

‘All she ever bleats on about is her job hunt.’

‘She’s such an ear sore, every time I see her now I feel like I’m her bloody therapist. I have problems too, you know? It’s as if mine aren’t equal to hers!’

‘So condescending and it’s her own fault she’s unemployed. Goes around acting as if she’s a bloody victim, so pathetic, I’m like, please… just get a job like the rest of us.’

‘Miss high and mighty.’

‘Miss oh woe is me.’

‘So bored of her.’

‘So bored.’

‘Doubt she’s even really trying.’

***

I sigh as I watch another mascara-laden tear slide down my face.

‘Well I really needed to hear that.’

I look away from the mirror and go downstairs.

***