For two years I sat behind a desk at one of those ultra-trendy, twenty-teen’s web startups.
You know, the kind that you ride your longboard to and from. The kind where you “work hard and play hard”. The kind with paychecks that you use to buy ugly dressers at Restoration Hardware. Recently the company fell on hard times and I was let go, with the option of staying on for an extra week to finish up some projects. Uncertain of my financial future, I went home, drank a 40 oz. of King Cobra—as is mandatory when you get fired from any job—and plotted out what the next few months would mean. That’s when I remembered the tinfoil in my freezer with 2 ½ hits of the world’s gnarliest acid wrapped inside.
I’d heard a little bit about microdosing before in articles directed at CEOs and coders who want to get more work done in a shorter time span. You know, cheating. Except in my case, there was no moral dilemma about unnaturally outperforming my fellow coworkers—I was already canned. I just wanted some extra clarity while I looked for my next job on company time.
If at this point you are at all confused what I mean by microdosing, it is the act of taking a small amount of a hallucinogenic drug. The amount you ingest should be no more than 1/5 of the dosage required to actually feel any of the profound mental effects. If you carry out this regimen for multiple days (taking a break after every fourth) then you will supposedly operate on an enhanced level of creativity and focus.
So what happened? Did it work? Was it awesome? Did I enter bullet-time?
Yes; mostly; and kind of.
The first day
Although the effects were sub-perceptual, it felt insane just to know I was tripping—in some semblance—at the place I was still technically employed. Aside from a slight tickle in my head, there were no physical effects but I was a whole lot happier than usual at 9 AM. One thing I immediately noticed was that conversing with my coworkers was much easier than on a usual morning. At times our banter was kinetic even (or so I felt, hopefully I didn’t weird them out too bad that day). Best of all, I could carry on conversations without losing momentum on any of the stuff I was working on. I was almost as good at multitasking as that Polka guy from Youtube.
My exit project was basically a bunch of housekeeping; stuff to make sure the remaining employees wouldn’t get time-screwed down the line. It consisted of running Photoshop macros, moving the finished files to their completed folders, stopping for frequent app crashes, and starting it all over ad nauseum. It’s the kind of task that machines should be doing and probably are in some offices; a job I had been putting off because of how soul-sucking I knew it would be. However, as I got into a rhythm, and with each task bar opening and closing, I found myself suddenly enraptured by this mundane errand. What had once made me feel like nothing more than a toothless cog in the Rube Goldberg Machine that is America was now giving my life some sick Orwellian purpose. Probably if I would have microdosed when I was still getting paid to care, I would have been the model employee.
One Love; Day 2
Although the mystique of LSD in the workplace had worn off by the second day, its positive effects on my mood were still present—mainly in terms of tricking my circadian rhythm into being cool for once. A big part of why I could never meld into the office mindset is the morning routine that comes attached. So when I hear Humble McBraggerson talk about how he “Hasn’t been able to sleep in past eight since high school. Even on my days off!” I am usually gearing up for the dropkick. If given the chance, I can sleep twelve hours a day. Am I supposed to be ashamed of that?
So I’m at my desk, awake, alert, happier than I really should have been, and ready to start the day’s tasks—more of that same Photoshop jazz. Hours in and my good mood remains unspoiled. I switch to autopilot while everything gets processed in the background and pull open some job sites. Pretty much the best opening a fresh copywriter like me can hope for is with some unassailable mega-corporation who needs a #millennial to contrive their online persona and make you feel good about buying their hand soap.
Barring that, there’s freelance. Which seems like the perfect option for a guy who sleeps more than most cats and whose relationship with pants can best be described as adversarial. As it turns out though, the vast majority of freelance writing gigs are run by Agency PR Douches. Look, I get that no one thought that the future was just going to be deciding whether to react with the laughing face or the heart on each other’s Slate.com thinkpieces but my English degree was never supposed to be this useless.
Then things got dark.
First off, never under, any circumstances, take the bus while hallucinogens are in your system. The shit you see sober on those things is bad enough. You can imagine what the bus ride home on my second straight day as a full-fledged scientist was like. Well, hopefully you can’t.
The next day when I woke up I was not feeling it at all. The tickle was gone at this point but I knew in my heart of hearts that this was not how a Wednesday should feel.
It’s like when you’re on the last morning of a weekend-long vacation with some buddies and all you really want to do is go home. Your fingernails are disgusting, a crust has visibly accumulated across your entire surface, and you somehow, inexplicably, give off the aroma of crushed black pepper mixed with one-thousand simultaneous sneezes. You look to every one of your equally unwashed, equally scaly friends—the maelstrom of party-liquor that was Friday and Saturday having aged each of you by five years—and scan for any sign that maybe, just maybe, it’s cool to pack it in, wash up in a McDonalds restroom, and finally drive back to a real bed. You look at yourself now; where once there was a passably healthy and responsible human with functioning self-preservation instincts, now stands a grotesque wraith: a parody of your former vitality—tribute to the Party God.
Shittily, you walk over to the cooler and begin a vacuous searching for PBR or Keystone or even a fucking Red Dog at this point, and, dear god, why aren’t they stopping you? Why did they all let you make it to the cooler? Holy fuck is that a bruise on your temple? Somebody should do something! You reach in and pull out what you hope—all of you hope—is just a leftover Coors. But you all drank so much last night that the mathematical chance of their being any leftover beverage even remotely so benign is unshakably impossible. Deep down—even before your ghostly voyage to the cooler began—you knew. Yet, although it was prophesied, still you recoil as your once trusted appendage pulls forth a lukewarm Leinenkugel Grapefruit Shandy from the darkest depths of Tartarus. The bottle’s neck hisses venomously as you remove the cap. Pursing your lips, you expect each bitter 68° gulp accompanied by its own wave of tears. But your sockets, they are dry and your body—tired and acquiescing. This is the new Normal.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what it felt like as I geared up for the third day’s dosage.
But it got better!
I’m not sure if it was the acid or the imminent pay cut, but the hustlin’ center of my brain was on fire. By lunchtime I had drafted up a portfolio, made a passable Wix site for it, and found some potentially alright leads for freelance writing gigs.
I carried this out for the rest of the evening and went to bed, hoping to wake up with an inbox full of replies from Web Content Managers, Content Compartmentalizers, Results Scaffolders, and other dudes with nebulous job titles who probably drive a Segway around the office. The emails came back but so did the requisite tax forms a freelancer must fill out. Normally I would have just skimmed the thing, signed my initials, and—money please—hit reply, but thanks to my new brain I actually read the tax document. What seemed like a bunch of sweet deals from startups looking to contract out, would have actually disqualified me from unemployment benefits and bone me on taxes on top of it. This was also the day I found out just what unemployment would be covering while I’m job hunting, which is about half of my previous earnings. It puts a mild clock above my head but is far from salt & pepper sandwiches. Plus, I have the added luxury of not being a single mother of four working at Walmart.
The way I see it, that’s a pretty comfortable amount to chill on until something pans out. In the meantime though, without the stress of a 40+ hour work week as an excuse to just play video games and re-rewatch Parks & Rec, I have no reason not to finally do some shit I feel like doing. So I called up some friends who also happen to hate capitalist dogs, wack-ass subcultures, and all those other sucka MCs who might be trying to slip through the cracks in general.
I’ll be back in the nurturing arms of some brand’s copy team or a marketing firm soon enough. For now though there is other work to be done. As long as there’s some idiot out there who will pay $180 for Coldplay tickets or $15 for pomme frites; as long as the phrase, “What do you do” is an acceptable form of introduction; as long as mason jars flood the earth; and as long as Gwyneth Paltrow continues to evade jail time, we’ll be here writing.