A trivial case study in misunderstanding and its implications.

I have been known to play hooky on occasion. I may be a workaholic, but I’m not sure. Even though I plan on playing hooky, I might keep postponing it for weeks, months at a time, because I can never get the full gumption and nerve to actually follow through. I tell my most trusted acquaintances of my hooky plans and they watch with dreadful familiarity as I formulate every possible excuse about why “today is not the right day…” and it turns out, that when I finally do skip work, people are somewhat startled by the unlikely fruition of my plan. I’m a bit on the neurotic, compulsive side, faithfully punctual to a nerdy degree, and I am perpetually plagued by the illusion that perhaps something will come up tomorrow, something I’m imagining in my hyper-vigilant, paranoid mind, something that will require my precious presence at work, even though we all know such a thing is pure bullshit. My presence is never that important at work, or anywhere, so far as I can tell. But in my head, of course, reality and perception sharply divert.

Mm. I don’t think I’m a workaholic. I am diligent to a severe degree that alienates me from normal people and I cannot let tasks flail unattended while I run off, pissing my “sick day” away watching television or mall-hopping. If the slightest possibility exists that tomorrow a work situation will arise which is earmarked for me, I have enough control issues that I will not leave it to chance, or to a bumbling and helpful co-worker looking to make my life easier, and thus put off calling in sick for another, “perfect” day when all the elements are right and I can stay home in peace. It just won’t be today.

So anyhow, the plan, as of last week, was that I would be, cough cough, a little under the weather this week, maybe Wednesday, maybe today.

But of course, the best laid plans of mice and pitiful neurotic grunts shall typically not come to pass. I was saddled with a project on Monday, and that afternoon, “Jane” (let’s call her) further aggravated the onerous task by informing us that she needed it completed by Friday due to corporate time constraints and deadlines, and besides, she was scheduling a Friday meeting in which we could further discuss the project’s conclusion. Because at our company, it’s not enough that you finished the project; everyone must also assemble in little conference rooms and flap their gums about it in the most unproductive manner possible.

Mr. Diligent went on a tear and had that shit all done by today. Actually, by yesterday, but I sat on it overnight just to make sure that, upon clearly reviewing my own work with a proportionally clearer head today, it still looked good and made sense.

Upon arriving at this conclusion early today, I emailed my finished product to Jane and copied the usual assortment of crackheads. Still, with the meeting scheduled tomorrow, I cannot play hooky in peace, hence, I won’t. Playing hooky tomorrow is a tremendous fantasy, but I just don’t have it in me. There is a nagging, churning doubt lodged in my mind that it will look bad if I call out, and I will pay ever bit for my dishonesty with a crashing thud of a disaster triggered by my duplicitous absence. Fuck…no hooky for me.

Now flashback to Tuesday.

During lunch, I was telling a trusted acquaintance of my new project and how it portended to ruin my hooky plans.

My acquaintance was aware, of course, of my hooky plans; had been since last week.

“I just got this project from Jane and I really have to finish it. I don’t think I’m calling in sick.” I donned a crestfallen expression.

“Why not next week?” my acquaintance suggested.

“Jane said she wants it by Friday,” I explained.

“No…why don’t you call in sick next week?” she reiterated impatiently and I gulped like a moron. Oh. I didn’t think of that phrasing option.

I just mumbled and forgot about it.

Then yesterday, I remembered that little snippet of conversation. I examine shit that happens in my life on a daily, ongoing basis. I’m built this way. I rehash much of the minutiae that constructs this dreary existence I call a life. I re-examine everything and deconstruct motives, hidden meanings, ulterior motives, oblique insults, surreptitious messages. I spend much of my time thinking about what I said today, and what was said to me. It’s madness, it is. I am a mad man. I am losing my fucking head, I tell you.

So I thought of that little conversation I had with my trusted acquaintance on Tuesday and the amusing misinterpretation on my part.

In this train of dialogue, she was fixated on the normal part, the part most people would think of. The fun thing, the normal enjoyable thing. The hooky day. Her mind unraveled in the direction of predictable human momentum, that of pleasure and self-satisfaction. In asking, “Why not next week?” her mind was merely expressing the pleasurable extension of our conversation. I, on the other hand, have been know to be anti-fun. I’m not normally inclined to think of life in terms of levity or play. Perhaps this is why I dislike Disneyland so much. I welcome my inhuman, gloomy rut. I embrace the toil, but in doing so, lose my taste for joy and trivialities of enjoyment.

My mind is focused entirely in the direction of hardship and sacrifice and duty; happiness is not part of my master plan, and thus, when an ambiguous question is directed at me, one which does not explicitly state the division between the happy and the toil, I will invariably, preternaturally, choose the toil path.

I extend all thought here, in this restrained direction, so while people are thinking of the carefree hooky day, I am absorbed with meeting my deadline.

In other words, my petty pleasures are innately ordered very low on my personal preference scale, reflexively, in an unconscious manner.

When she asked, “Why not next week,” I was not thinking of playing hooky for it wasn’t even part of the equation.