Waking up Dead: How to Survive The Weekday Hangover

We’ve all been out too late on a school night. By the way, we can stop calling them that? It isn’t cute or clever or cool. They are work nights, and you are an adult. At least that’s what you keep telling yourself as your meager savings evaporate into the cool night air. You thought you would be able to save money, but L.A. is big and you just don’t know how to say no. To anyone. Ever.

8:37 am Tuesday- Your room

Before the seal on your booger-crusted eyes can be broken, the words “JUST CALL A LYFT” flash across the screen that is the inside of your eyes.
But then so do the words “INSUFFICIENT FUNDS”.
A groan escapes your mouth and the first thing you hear (smell) is the trash truck.
All manner of glass and who the fuck knows what clang and explode on impact as they crash against the steel interior of your taxpayer-funded alarm clock.
And goddamn, last night was nuts.
Neck’s all stiff and pictures from the night prior send jolts of pain to places not accustomed to experiencing it.

You drank an embarrassing amount of booze you couldn’t afford, past an hour which you knew your brittle little body could not recover from.

Then your real alarm goes off, but it’s sort of nice because you’ve been listening to that hot classical music station lately.
Mozart does little to console you, though.
You’ll be late, again.
And once again it’s all your fault.
Isn’t it?
Of course, it is.
You drank an embarrassing amount of booze you couldn’t afford, past an hour which you knew your brittle little body could not recover from.
No sense moping, hop to it!
Let’s get ready for the job you fucking hate.
That’s it!
One foot on the floor that’s attached to the apartment you are three months in debt to.
Now the left one.
You’ve got it.
Oh shit, my head.
If words were things you could form at this early hour, they might sound like “YOLO” if it was uttered by a dried up drunk on his deathbed by the beach.
You rise.
No, birds rise.
You roll.
You’re out of bed now and somehow in the bathroom.
The shower is full blast as if in an attempt to summon some healing steam GOD.
Upon inhaling your first steamy breath, you decide that life is worth living.
For a moment your brain doesn’t throb against the inside of your skull, and you can think.
The first sane thought is to call out “sick”.
Followed by a quick flash that is the tent city that is skid row.
Okay, fine, I’ll give it a go.
Your stomach rumbles.
You heave into the toilet and are reminded of the bills.
Suddenly, you are in the shower.

8:45 am Tuesday- 405 Westbound

California Freeway 405 by Clotee Pridgen Allochuku (Flickr Creative Commons)

California Freeway 405 by Clotee Pridgen Allochuku (Flickr Creative Commons)

Your hangover, with more second winds than Mike Tyson, has not subsided, but neither have your mounting bills.
So you soldier up and rise to the perpetual occasion.
You can take the 505 to the 70 and then straight to Hell.
It’s a straight shot if you get up early enough on say a Friday.
But today is Tuesday after a holiday, which for all intents and purposes is, you guessed it – fucking Monday.
It’s always Monday, it seems.
Everything is always fine unless you’re late of course.
That is an unforgivable offense in the simulation.
Just don’t ever be late trust me.
But if you’re late, and GOD help you if you’re late, because not even Doc Brown himself can fix it if you’ve managed to oversleep by even five minutes due to your sleep needing to be maximized due to the inordinate amount of alcohol you consumed the night before in an effort to numb the physically painful dread assigned to your back 24/7 365.
But you won’t be late today.
Oh fuck.
unless…
Is Comic-Con in town?
Is Comic-con in town this week, or the circus or The Oscars are or has someone flipped their Porsche in a desperate attempt to elude the cops?
Twitter confirms it.
Comic-Con!
You get it.
Traffic is balls here.
Nothing starts on time.
Not you.
Not the ball game.
Nothing except the traffic.
The freeways are unforgiving time sucks for Angelenos resigned to travel via its byzantine concrete go-kart tracks.
The 405 to the 105, and there’s a gridlock on the connecting ramp, call your boss and tell him you’re dead.
No response.
Holy shit.
I’m actually dead.
I’ll die if I lose this job.
Call him back, flip off the Camry that cut you off mid-lane change.
Your boss answers, inquires about your whereabouts and your ETA.
You give him the “15 minutes speech” (you know the one) claiming your alarm was set for PM instead of AM.
He buys it, or doesn’t, and does it really matter?
In the rush of it all, you aren’t sure if you’ve used that one before.
Somehow though, you’re positive that you have, and that this commute is balls, and now you need a new job.
And your tears do not quench the thirst of the beast that is the 405 on Monday after a long holiday weekend.
You pull yourself together and continue your crawl towards mundanity.
Your discontent is immutable.

9:45 am At Your Desk, Barely Alive

El día de la marmota by Joaquim Fonoll (Flickr Creative Commons)

El día de la marmota by Joaquim Fonoll (Flickr Creative Commons)

The emails have become numerous in your absence.
Your current position in front of your screen, your desk and your responsibility does not decrease the expediency with which they populate your digital mailbox.
They pour in, and who sends these electronic mailings in the first place?
Who was the first man to wake up after a not long enough holiday and say: “Hey, I know how to fuck this up.
I know how to jump-start the world again.
Let me send a goddamn email.
A worthless message containing information pertinent to no one.”
The boss arrives at your peripheral, unpleasant breath in tow.
Not that yours is much better.

You stew in your seat, contemplating your next bathroom break so as to provide relief for the situation that has become commonly known as the alcohol sweats.

Tommy’s is the only thing open late in Hollywood, and although the sickness is something you’ve grown accustomed to, the onion breath remains a deterrent to confident speech prior to noon when the smell of the white vegetable has faded considerably.
He mumbles something about quarterly reports and you rack your boombox brain for some idea about what that could mean.
He prances off, a meeting on the docket.
You stew in your seat, contemplating your next bathroom break so as to provide relief for the situation that has become commonly known as the alcohol sweats.
Whiskey pours out from every pore on your face and you know now that life is only worth living if you can escape this 25 story coffin for the rest of the day.
But how?
All your family death cards have been played and leaving early on a day when one has arrived late is, of course, worse than suicide in this corporate Jumanji.
Fake a seizure?
Too drastic.
Disappear?
Nah.
It won’t invite enough sympathy.
The words fire alarm dance into your mind’s eye and the goal becomes clear.

8:40 pm The Balcony of Your Apartment

The voice of leisure tells you to pull the fire alarm in your building before the imagined workday can even begin.
So you do.
You pull the fire alarm and the sound of it, though grating, is music to your drunken ears.
You watch as the building empties in a surprisingly droll fashion and this does come as a bit of a bummer.
But that’s okay.
The realization that the work day was only a nightmare is accompanied by a soft sigh of relief.
The dread has subsided.
Now your cover is complete.
Back to bed, champ.
Today is your day off.
You’ve earned it.

Photo Courtesy of Gilbert Mercier (Flickr Creative Commons)

Michael Lorenzo Porter is an American-born short story writer and occasional journalist. His love of card games and fear of spiders have formed his world view in equal measure.
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