Vincent was there every morning. A Yale graduate, he was tall and lanky, with round frames mounted on his nose. His hair was straight and black, and fell around his head in a nineties-style mushroom. Vincent, or Vin as I grew to call him, was always one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. He used most of his free time to volunteer. The way I saw it, the kid had no life, yet I wondered where he drew his dedication. I wondered why he did it. The more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me: he had no life not because he spent all his extra time at work or volunteering, but rather he did all that because he had no life. His family lived in California, while he joined the company here on the East coast just last year, coming straight from his dorm room in Yale. So with barely any real acquaintances, Vin found solitude in his work, and preferred spending his free time in the arms of society, rather than confinement of his 4 walls. While Vin was genuinely a nice guy, he was too wired and too nosy, and wanted to have his hand in every project and a word in every conversation. He sometimes spoke so fast and loud that his voice radiated around the entire room, bounced off a few walls, gathered in a hurricane-like circle in the middle and exploded outward, leaving everyone cringing in its path. And for these qualities, he was despised around the office, laughed at as the company nerd; the annoying geek that’s always in your way.
Vincent wasn’t the only one to dedicate his time to something that didn’t love him back. We were all there. While the ownership hired people with the notion of launching a career, many realized quickly that this wasn’t the place to create one. They wanted to do their jobs and go home with a paycheck, and when the opportunity came they jumped ship as if it were on fire.
Project assignments often came around with unreasonable deadlines and the quiet whispers and stares around the office hid backlash against the management. Everyone complained…everyone. It all came out outside. The moment they set foot outside, it was as if the sunlight injected them with renewed energy, a wanting for real communication and interaction with the world. But their faces spoke for them. You didn’t need to hear what they were saying, it was obvious. It wasn’t just this project, or this deadline. It was everything: the place, the bosses, the clients, the lack of real titles or real progress. They all even hated each other, though most were careful not to admit it.
I tried to remain neutral. If I was to be in control around here, I needed to be on good terms with everyone. Put the company’s interests first. I guess, they weren’t the only ones who could put on a good smoke and mirrors routine. I guess I wasn’t really faking anything, at least not any more than anyone else around here. I may not be an old man, but I’ve lived enough to learn a few things about myself. I’m outspoken, intuitive, and quite arrogant. I’m that guy on the road driving faster than everyone else just because the people in front of me piss me off. I’m vengeful and unforgiving, but I’m fair. And if you love me, I’ll love you back. Cross me, and you’ve made an enemy for life.