On a Monday morning, I would not choose to describe myself as a human. Instead, I’d say my demeanor is much more akin to a zombie, but somehow more dead inside. With my eyes still bleary and barely open, I shuffle from block to block avoiding pedestrians and cars using all five senses working at approximately 15%. The fact that I manage to stay upright on the train to work on those first mornings of the weak, given my residual BAC from the two days before, is a miracle that the Vatican should look into. When you get to your late 20s, a weekend of drinking and debauchery catches up to you very quickly, further exacerbating the Monday morning blues. Once I finally plop down at my desk, all I want is to sit there, stare at my screen full of Excel spreadsheets, and kill time as I continue to slowly boost my mental status to just above functional.
“Good morning!” comes a cheerful voice to my right. Slowly, due to a combination of a persistent headache and my own dread, I turn around just as my desk neighbor comes bounding into the office. Unlike myself, who appears to have come to the office directly from his own grave, she is radiant, well put-together, and has a big smile on her face. As the newbie of the department, I’ve only been working next to her for a couple of weeks. She and I are still feeling each other out, but one thing is abundantly clear to me: she is very high energy.
Now, this isn’t your run of the mill “just had my morning cup of coffee” high energy (although I can’t say that definitively since, to borrow another PGP writer’s shtick, I don’t drink coffee and yes that makes me better than you). She has the level of energy and disposition of a Disney princess during a musical number after she just finished doing a bunch of cocaine. She is perpetually energetic, whether it be in a meeting, gabbing around the office coffee machine (me being a non-coffee drinker just pays off in so many ways), or even just sitting there alone doing her work. Honest to God, in the middle of a day where no one else is talking I’ll hear her hum or sing under her breath whatever bubblegum pop song got queued up on Pandora.
She is one of those coworkers who always finds a way to work in several exclamation points into one of her e-mails. She’s the one with the inspirational quote in her signature, which she changes every week. Above her computer monitors, she has one of those kitschy little dream boards one can get off Etsy, inspired by the “spiritual gurus” she follows on Pinterest. It’s not entirely bad since she’s also the one to send a cute gif of a kitty or baby falling over with the message body “just thought you could use the little pick-me-up.” She’s also incredibly funny and nice, but whereas I have that darker sense of humor, hers is as wholesome as if she was one of the Brady Bunch.
That’s what is even worse than the high energy, that sunny disposition that goes along with it. The cheer…oh God the level of cheer this girl has. I’ve never known that anyone could be this level of optimistic. Literally every day she comes in like everything is always sunshine, rainbows, and puppies. If she gets called out in a meeting for a mistake, she just smiles, shrugs, and says something like “well at least I’ve learned to not do that next time.”
As a life-long cynic, I have a great distrust of people who are perpetually cheerful. I fully accept some people are generally happier than I am, but no one just walks around life like they’re living in a goddamn musical. Or at least, acknowledge that none of us are the Disney prince or princess in the story of our lives; we’re one of the villagers in the background, grumbling about how strange women, lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government while attempting to avoid the violence inherent in the system.
Look, I get that a lot of people are much better at hiding their mental baggage than I am, but I always assumed that much of that was social media posturing. For every couple posing happily at the summit following a hike (how are none of them ever gross and sweaty?), I assume (or at least hope) that they’re constantly fighting when the cameras are off about their financial troubles or bad sex life. Maybe one of them is cheating on the other, that would please me greatly. But to see someone, in real life, being perpetually happy is just sickening.
Go ahead and call me petty or jealous. I’ll own that it’s a bit of my sadistic side to want people to be miserable just like me. Truly, I don’t want anybody to have to deal with really heavy issues or tragic losses like death, disease, or your fantasy football team underperforming. It’s just comforting to know that I am not alone in thinking that life is constantly trying to shove your head into a toilet and laugh at you.
All I would need to actually like this girl and want to be around her, instead of digging my fingernails into my knuckles every time she comes bounding up to me, is for her just to occasionally be in a bad mood. Hell, even a mediocre mood would do. Just so I know that she doesn’t actually believe that every day she’s alive is a blessing. I’ve really been hoping that I’ll come across her in the stairway crying, screaming, or punching the walls in anger. Even a sharp insult or biting comment about a rude client would be enough to make me believe that she’s a real person and not a Barbie doll come to life.
Hell, when I tried to talk to her about her online dating track record, a topic I was sure would engender some horror stories, she kept aa positive outlook. Even as she regaled me with tale after tale of dining and dashing, dick pics, or douchebags, she’d end each one by chirping “but it was good, because now I know the kind of guy I don’t want to be with.” When I pressed, asking if it discourages her to have all those creeps out there, the smile on her face never quivered. “Oh I know there’s someone special out there for me. I just have to find him.” Blah, I hate this girl. .