Oscar Bjørne

The left mouse button on my notebook was missing, and the other one was stuck. The rest of the right side of the keyboard was overheating right where the processor sits, whiring and coughing pathetically like a sick child at three in the morning. Typing anything that involved letters on the right half of the keyboard meant first degree burns. The drive holding two weeks of already useless work was now missing, corrupt from god-knows-what-error, making the last two weeks even more useless. To boot, the food here sucks, the economy is costing a lot of people that sit around me their very secure jobs, I’m frustrated about travel schedules I can’t make because of other people’s blunders, I’ll probably miss meeting some very important people in New York next week and all because I’m here, doing nothing for nobody.

No wonder I’m pissed.

In a split-second I couldn’t control, my feet exploded against the floor, throwing my torso into the air. My throat grunted a war whoop, my hands grabbed my PC and heaved it clear across the room, smashing it against the wall with a violent garble of plastic and metal being shoved against each other and uncomfortable angles. The hard plastic around the case cracked in one sharp snap that sounded like a femur splitting in two. I stood at my desk, breathing heavily, my sleeves rolled up and my top two buttons on my shirt already undone. I bared my teeth, totally out of control. A coworker was looking at me for obvious reasons and in a rage of animalistic rage I pointed at him aggressively.

“What the fuck are YOU looking at?” He and I work for the same company and I know his shitty equipment has had days of poor performance like this. “Don’t pretend like you’ve never wanted to do that with this stinking equipment they fucking give us. It’s a travesty,” I filled in the silence. The bewildered Dutch man kept looking at me silently. Dutch people don’t like scenes and it makes them uncomfortable to be thrust in the middle of one. And I’d never acted like so like the mos American person in the room.

“Besides, it’s YOUR fault,” I shouted, and pointed to the one across the table from him. “And YOUR fault, and YOUR fault,” I shouted indiscriminately, pointing to everyone in the room and making angry faces at the frightened bunch. “YOU – miserable twats put up with discomfort and wretched computer equipment and bad processes and retarded policies all because YOU don’t want to stick your neck out! YOU don’t want to be the one to make a wake, to change the color in this grey world. YOU frightened lizards that duck and stare empty-faced at every obvious conflict thrown at us from anyone higher than us. You SUCK!”

I waited a second for it to sink in, looking around the room and eyeing the door.

“YOU fucking useless inanimate objects,” I finished, throwing my hands up in a wild craze. “React, Goddamnit! Say something away from the fucking coffee machines!”

Nothing. I looked at the fattest one of the bunch and threw my mouse at the fat rolling over his waist but he recoiled like a mole. “Fuck you!” I yelled, and ran into the woods outside the building. The mouse bounced onto the floor.

I was furious that night when I went out for a run. Which I do when I can’t handle some of the things I hear. I’d heard of a little political story that was being kept quiet by Murdoch’s empire of media and then some, and I couldn’t find Dylan to get it off my chest. So it festered.

I’d already been losing it on the tube, in my car, even at the pub. Things were getting weird in a way you only expect during election season. The always important but continuous loser of politics, health care, was being ousted from the media waves by a combination of republican affairs scandals,  the typical scurry of the appointment of a new Justice to the Supreme Court of Klowns and some inane tripe of fabricated batshit about Obama’s birth certificate that for some reason even Rachel Maddow was talking incessantly about. The intellectual property trial against a mother and student had, individually awarded record companies upwards of half a million dollars for downloading thirty-something songs. This was with a judge and jury. And everytime I re-read the article about Alberto Gonzalez and the continuing decadence of the Justice Department it struck that cord of dissonance that wishes death to those in the establishment as the only solution to getting out of this maddness that’s settling in over us.

In retrospect, I guess I should’ve known that just blowing the largest spores clean off the fungus that is our DOJ wouldn’t have done shit to stop the decay of the thing. But I just couldn’t get over it. The thick mucus of resentment that builds up in my mind when I hear enough bullshit sometimes constricts my breathing, or at least my ability to think straight. When I can’t wrap my mind around the absurdity I see and hear I tend to collapse into myself and that’s when other things, more extroverted in me, come out and the shit hits the fan.

That’s probably not what led to the the aforementioned work-related disaster but it wasn’t helping things either. Running violently into whatever jungles I happen to be inhabiting is just about the only thing I can do in times like that and I think that if it wasn’t for all the whisky, I’d be in amazing shape.

Earlier in the day I’d gotten beligerent, and yes, done horrible things to company property in front of my clients and coworkers. But so what? Let them sit in stale offices drink horse tranquilizers in the middle of the woods and slobbering figureless numbers onto their keyboards if they like, but they know I was right.

Besides, that shit felt good.

Later, back in my tiny hotel room I calmed down by closing the curtains, running the shower at full blast as hot as it goes and closing the bathroom door. I stripped naked and lay on the cold tile, feeling the steam of fifty degrees celcius build up in the enclosed space and fall on my face. My iPod sang Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” and wailed a bunch of Muddy Waters and my blood pressure dropped to its normal levels of 140/90.

But that was all work stuff, the very same bullshit I usually avoid mentioning here because, well, shit, you don’t care. What made it relevant enough today was not so much the fact that I’d flipped my Compaq clear across the room and just high enough to miss giving two very tall Germans very clear USB marks across their temples, though I knew at the time that scene would make for some good theatrics. What made it significant was the why of the matter — the raison d’être<span style=“font-style: normal;“>; I’d finally seen the invisible hand of Adam Smith at work and it was jerking off my corporate employer while the other one slapped around some very good friends of mine.

And we’ll leave it at that. There’s no way to go further into it without getting into some very thick and ugly mud and right now I just can’t find the hours in the day to get into.

Because I’d calmed down from the work thing. I wasn’t belligerent anymore, yelling things at the radio or debating healthcare policy with my TV, though I was getting there. See, politics had come on the iDesk, one of the only good shows put out by CNN, and as if it wasn’t enough that the tentacles of Alberto Gonzalez hadn’t dried up after leaving the DOJ in shame and shambles, the goddamn things were still manipulating, twisting and otherwise creeping things out.

Anyway, the story was that after months of not finding work ahead of the trail of destruction he left behind in his former job, homeschool finally landed at Texas Tech in northern Lubbock.

Yeah, I know. Imagine that — Lubbock, TX. One more for the file of “Duh”, eh?

And I tried to get over the fact that he’s going to be getting a salary of 100K (when regular full-time proffessors with real PhDs and actual experience who teach more than 15 students a semester often get half that). I tried to get over the fact that students formed groups and petitions and even facebook efforts of getting rid of this taint on their education, all of which went ignored (help ‘em out, by the way — how’d you like it if you walked into class and Richard Milhous Nixon was your teacher? Same thing.

I tried to get over the silence of the faculty, and later their own ineffective actions when 45 of them signed petitions that will certainly fall on deaf ears of administrators who “don’t make decisions based on petitions”.

Of course not. Not when it’s not fun for the people who pay you to play nice with them.

I even tried to get over the fact that the school’s Chancellor, Kent Hance — who considers Gonzales a “good friend” — said that he received a “substantial number” of supportive e-mails about the hire, and just nine critical ones, and then added that “he wasn’t dwelling on the negative ones because they didn’t come from loyal university donors.”

I mean, shit. I tried. But the shithead that runs that ill-fated school didn’t even bother trying to mask the ugliness of his cronyism. And it’s fucking with education. That’s where I draw the line.


But it’s been a bad time for idealism. It’s been a bad time for hope and optimism, at least when it comes to government and life within this system based loosely on something that was once referred to as democracy. You know, back when we didn’t know any better. Or maybe we did. They did, anyway.

So yeah, I tried. But I was already on the verge of completely freaking out, so I did the only thing that has a documented track record of success in these situations — which is not, by the way, throwing laptops. That kind of lunatic behavior is revolutionary radicalism and you should be very aware of your surroundings if you even want to think of trying that on as ‘therapy’. Besides, I’ve only tried it once so I’m not sure of the scientific soundness of the theory.

But I was furious, my reason twisted like theirs and I needed to go for a violent run. It was raining hard too, and the lightning had gone wild, which is perfect.

Yes, I’m aware of the dangers of running in lightning. I went anyway.

Trees flew past my face like spiderwebs and I couldn’t distinguish one from the other. The green faded to black, the explosion of the summer woods veiled by the night. With my hands outstretched I felt like I was floating through the leaves, and who knows where I imagined I was?

The wet rubber of my soles against the smooth pavement squeaked and gripped until it warmed up, until the steps themselves molded with their environment. My feet were marching drums in synch with themselves. I could almost hear the trumpets of war over the heavy shield of the thick trees, over the hills that approached but never arrived until they were right underfoot. A steady rumble in the dark clouds above was in consonance with the heavy drops that already splashed over my cheeks, blurring my vision as I ran. I shook my head and the water drained from my face only to build up again in a few seconds.

But I ran.

My pace quickened, the steps growing louder. The path ahead of me was hard to see in the dark but it seemed to stretch to a point at infinity. It excited the hell out of me and I ran wildly into that green blackness. I thought I was alone but between what I thought were drums in the distance there seemed to be cars. The dim semblance of approaching headlights would appear between the bushes ahead and I turned away, onto another path. I tried to run deeper into the thick dark, avoiding as much knowledge as I could of the world outside myself, outside those woods, that rain.

But the deeper I ran, the more often came the headlights in the distance, the more of them there were; the closer they seemed. I turned to run in the opposite direction, but no thinning of that evil-tempered traffic could I find. They were coming from all sides, at all speeds, violently stripping the forrest of its solitude, of its haven. I stopped running.

I just stood there, and marveled at the traffic I could not escape.

I feel you don’t really know a city until you’ve run it in the rain, and this I’ve done in many places. Brooklyn, Geneva, Brasilia, Amsterdam, Oslo, London, Vienna — in the rain, through empty streets, void of the bullshit and other distractions there is more intimacy with a place. In the wet dark of a violent storm, there are thoughts you dare to think that normally would stay shut away in twisted crevaces of the mind, untampered with. You notice things you’d otherwise miss, like the echo under a stone bridge while your trainers seem muffled underfoot. You run into things that would otherwise not be there, like the lit up eyes of stray dogs, giving you looks full of evil and insanity, quite aware.

Fields of fireflys aglow in the downpour, flexing god-knows-which-muscles. It seems a lie.

No, I haven’t hit the rum yet. But maybe I should. Rum’s good.

Speaking of which, I’m glad I enjoyed that last bottle of Jack Daniels, because it’ll be my last. No, no, I haven’t quit drinking or found Jesus or anything crazy like that…it’s just that I recently heard they donated over twenty million dollars to the Bush campaign. Sure, I heard that from an English comedian in New York, and yes, the entire liquor industry probably leans toward “Republican Leanings”. And though the Dems aren’t any better when it comes to being friendly to business before being responsible and accountable to the people, it’s silly to base a political opinion on this little — oh, what the hell, let’s call it a fact — everyone else does it.

But this whole rant has been about cognitive dissonance, hasn’t it? And just to illustrate the point of how well esconsced in the matter we are, I’ll be giving up that particular Tennesee Whiskey. And I’ll be getting my inspirations elsewhere, thanks.

Isn’t that just the bitch about the truth? It comes out in the end, doesn’t it? It may be late, it may be stretched thin and pale from being hidden in deep places inside the human-sized safes in old men’s closets and offices. But it comes out.

And you’d think cognitive dissonance would be unpleasant enough to be a deterrent, or obvious enough to be a detergent, but no. The evolutionary abilities of men with power based in the establishment to rise above that most basic and inconvenient of human traits is quite incredible.

https://facebook.com/oscarbjorne Oscar Bjørne

Oscar’s day job consists of saying & writing banter for which corporate executives pay outrageous amounts to shelve and ignore. He’s a consultant at one of the largest software firms in the world, and his clients are in major capitals all over the globe. From São Paulo to Prague, from Oslo to Riyadh, Oscar lends us his notes on travel, corporate life, fast adventures and a company dime.

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