As janitor at a counseling office, one of my jobs is to clean the secret staff entrance. The entrance, a 50-foot hallway, runs between the office and the alternate universe where psychologists live. Its door is disguised as a shelf of DSM manuals that no one including their author has ever read. I have to sweep the hallway for debris, consisting mostly of shed scales and dropped pages from therapy notes, calculating how much warmer and softer the patients' suffering will make the psychologists' beds that night.
Like the rest of the office, the hallway is filled with small plastic cylinders that emit a soft hum. Most people think they're white-noise machines to mask therapy conversations, but actually they're miniature heating/cooling units that keep the office at exactly 68° F, the only temperature at which psychologists' ectothermic bodies can survive. I'm so used to the cylinders' humming that once when they turned off I died. My soul floated down the hall into the office lounge, where two psychologists were talking:
"Does it ever bother you that our patients are in indescribable psychic pain?"
"I wouldn't say it's indescribable. Although you'd think so from their inarticulate blubbering about it. One guy told me his life is a desolate void of misery, which in addition to being redundant makes no sense, since a void can't contain anything."
"I guess you're right. So did you finish that book I lent you?"
"No. I wanted to read it during this morning's session, since that patient is usually too depressed to talk anyway, but today she was feeling chatty for some reason. I would've tried to make her depressed again, but I have no idea how depression or any aspect of the human mind works."
I floated near one of the psychologists and got sucked into his body due to its vacuum of soul. Bizarre images flooded my mind: robots hanging from gallows, children burning to death in acid rain, graves with digital facebook walls embedded in them.... Luckily I was able to control the psychologist's body long enough to go give my corpse CPR. As soon as I was revived the psychologist vomited, sickened by both briefly having a soul and touching a human being. He was so traumatized that he had to perform self-therapy by describing the ordeal to a video camera, then pretending to watch the video while drawing pictures of yachts on a notepad.
The other hallway I clean is the one patients walk down to their therapists' offices. It's elegantly decorated with Persian rugs and feng shui to contrapuntally accentuate the patients' misery. I spend a lot of time cleaning the patient bathroom, located off the hallway, where I get high from licking the valium-filled urine off the toilet bowls. After ingesting enough valium I hallucinate that the psychologists are human beings and the constant flicking of their tongues is an empathetic expression.
One time in a drugged-up stupor I tried to have sex with the office plethysmograph, damaging it in the process. I got a stern lecture from my boss, since the plethysmograph is a vital piece of office equipment - it's used in a game where the psychologists read aloud from the patients' despairing journals and see who can get the smallest erection.
Sometimes the valium gives me dry mouth, so I'll drink from the water cooler in the waiting room. The cooler's water is actually just the toilet water after all the valium has been filtered out to make new valium, and it still has a slight medicinal taste, which is why the patients are addicted to it. Once when I was taking too long to fill my cup a patient assaulted me. I subdued him by describing what happiness and intimacy feel like until he started crying. His tears had incredible pressure from decades of crying experience, and a few of them hit the waiting room TV, making it short out and display the secret channel on which therapy sessions are shown in the lounge for the staff's amusement.
Patient: I'm incredibly lonely and depressed and can't stop crying.
*digitally added laugh track*
Psychologist: I recommend spending time in a g-force simulator. The centrifugal force will keep the tears inside your body.
I almost got fired for the incident, since making the man cry was practicing therapy without a license, but I bluffed my way out of it by saying I was a new employee and didn't know the rules - the psychologists can't tell if I'm new or not because they lack the ability to distinguish human faces.
‘Toad coin?’ wondered the traveler as he examined the pebble. It did not look all that different from any other pebble, and certainly nothing like a coin. ‘What manner of coin has no head or tail, and bears no seal or flag? Who backs this toad coin, the toad bank? The toad treasury!?’ The traveler laughed, but the toads croaked sternly back at him.
Spending $10-15 a day on perishable organic dog food is not a sign of a decadent culture in terminal decline, it's actually real good and worth it.
No lifeguard on duty. Maze run at your own risk.
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