I’ve always been an awkward person. Like a lot of people, I’ve never felt that I belonged to any particular social circle. I love prog rock, horror films, video games—my interests have thriving communities and usually are fairly inclusive. Yet in spite of this, I always feel like a sore thumb. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fortunate enough to have some amazing close friends, with whom I’ve had many adventures and good times. But in nearly every job I’ve had, I’ve never been able to fit in with the rest of the staff. Maybe it’s because I hate working, and never really want to be at the place that employs me.
Or maybe it’s my crippling anxiety disorder, something that has caused me a great deal of distress and dismay in my life.
I have to suspect it’s a combination of those two elements. It’s not for lack of trying; each and every time I start a new job I attempt to be part of the gang. At this stage in my life, I’ve accepted that I’m an awkward guy, who will never feel quite comfortable in social situations. Living in a city as social as Los Angeles, this can be a challenge. I’ve struggled to hold down a full time job since moving here, and I’ve come to suspect this is largely due to my awkwardness, and general inability to settle into a clique.
And so it was one fine spring day in LA that I was offered a producing position at a prestigious marketing agency. I only got the job through a close friend who knew people at the company (hooray for nepotism!), and I only accepted because I was desperate. I needed money to pay the bills, which were piling up significantly, and even though I was sure there were far more qualified candidates out there for the position, I needed to survive. Classic LA, am I right? So anyway, I reluctantly agreed to the position, and after telling many-a-lie in a rigorous interview process, I landed the gig. I largely bullshitted my way there—which is how I imagine most producers in Los Angeles get their jobs—and I prepared myself for my first day as a producer at a fancy-schmancy marketing agency.
Almost immediately, my nervousness began to rear its ugly head. What if they saw through the façade? What if I had to go back on unemployment? What if I couldn’t handle the job’s simplest responsibilities? Worst of all, what if they don’t like me? I was panicking, even beginning to regret accepting the job. I knew I’d have to make a great first impression for my first day, and I have a track record of horrible first impressions.
I picked out a professional, but slightly casual outfit, and I was careful to shave my face and brush my teeth a couple of times. I wanted to be taken seriously, and after a series of disappointing jobs, I wanted to do my best to make this one stick. But even as I prepared myself for success, my stomach knotted with fear, and my heart raced. No matter what I did, I could not get myself to calm down. I knew that when I was this nervous, I was also at my most awkward. I needed a quick solution, and as I scrambled to think about what I could do, I remembered I had just made a trip to the dispensary. I had picked up some flower of a strain I had never tried before— Strawberry Banana. A buddy of mine, Johnny, had recommended I try it out for my anxiety.
Spending The First Day of Work Stoned and Cosplaying Sonny Crockett
It was in that moment I hatched a genius plan: I would take a hit or two from my pipe, three at most, and then I’d call a Lyft to work. It was the perfect plan! I’d get just buzzed enough to calm my nerves, and no one at the new gig would be able to tell. Mind you, I had only just started smoking weed, and was very ignorant to the many factors that come into play when you’re getting ripped. For example, I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and although a couple of hits normally wouldn’t do too much, the two tokes of this strong strain on an empty stomach hit me like a sledgehammer.
It was too late. The damage had been done and I needed to leave the apartment immediately or I’d be late. I called a Lyft and wolfed down some food, hoping it would sober me up a bit. It didn’t. I arrived at the office, my eyes blazing like hellfire. I was also starting this new job on the same day the company held a full staff meeting in the main plaza of the building. To make matters worse, the weed had the opposite effect in that it made me panic more as I was paranoid that all of my new coworkers would be able to tell I was baked out of my mind.
I quickly conjured up yet another brilliant solution—I wouldn’t take my sunglasses off the whole day. Bono does it, and he’s very successful and talented. So I kept my Ray-Bans on and didn’t take them off as I entered the staff meeting on my first day looking like Sonny Crockett. Other than the paranoia, I felt like a million bucks. My muscles and body were light as a feather, and for the most part I was in a good headspace. Everything, and I mean everything was hilarious. I kept thinking how weird it was that we all gathered like herded cattle for company meetings. How stupid it was that we all corralled around our overpaid leaders and listened to nonsense about making ads, something that truly could not matter less. At the same time, I giggled at the guy’s bowl cut in front of me, and smiled at the people staring at me for wearing my Wayfarers indoors.
After the meeting I was whisked away along with some other fresh meat to a guided tour of the office space. I was blitzed out of my mind for this entire tour, and remarked that each and every room I was shown was “dope.” I occasionally received an odd glance or two from my fellow new recruits, who probably thought I was insane, or were well aware that I was blasted with the sweet leaf. I felt like I was floating on clouds as I meandered around the office, letting out a “woah” or “nice!” with each new room. Finally I arrived at my desk, and had to begin my training. The woman I’d be replacing stared blankly at me.
“You can take those off if you’d like,” she said, motioning to my sunglasses.
I immediately panicked. I hadn’t planned for someone confronting me about my glasses—what would I say? I have photophobia? That seemed like an awfully big commitment, and one I’d have to keep up for the indefinite future. I have bad allergies! This one was actually true, I do have horrible seasonal allergies which sometimes cause itchy and red eyes. Mind you, while this was running through my head I was sitting there in silence, staring back at this poor woman through my cool sunglasses. It must’ve been a pause for her that lasted an eternity. Finally a wide smile cracked across my face. I was so high, I was wearing my “a-ha!” revelation on my face like a grinning doofus. This only enhanced how weird I appeared.
“I have really bad allergies, and it causes my eyes to get really red and itchy,” I said.
“Oh, I totally get that, I do too,” she responded.
She bought it—or at least, I assumed she did. And so, I removed the glasses, revealing my blood-red eyes. The woman seemed a little taken aback.
“Woah, you weren’t kidding,” she remarked.
Getting Through The Day In A Haze
And so I continued to stumble through my first day, eventually getting through the training (none of which I actually retained), and assisted by many trips to the kitchen to down glasses of water and snacks in my struggle to sober up. The worst was not yet over however, and I was told that I would be taken around to the offices of the executives so I could meet them all. The paranoia hit me the worst at this moment, as my stoned ass was paraded around the office and as I awkwardly shook hands with each executive. My eyes were half-open with a lazy, shit-eating grin on my face. I also kept darting my eyes back and forth to avoid eye contact, which only could have made things ten times worse.
Finally, by lunchtime, I had begun to sober up. I attempted to undo the chaotic first impression I had undoubtedly left, and much to my surprise the people I had encountered hadn’t actually noticed much of anything. Or if they did, they simply didn’t care. The job ended up royally sucking, and before long, I had decided that I wasn’t a good fit for it and parted ways from the company. On the day I quit, I went home, took several massive bong rips, and fired up a video game. Is there a better feeling than that? Needless to say, this is perhaps my most triumphant first impression, and one I will not soon forget.