At nineteen years of age my life was a fucking mess. Not only had I failed to follow my dream of becoming a recording engineer, I had failed my escape from Newton and my misguided attempts at love. And the cannabis content of my piss made me pretty much unemployable.
A friend of mine worked at a factory that made pallets used to ship Maytag appliances, and his dad was a manager of some sort. Pretty much all he knew about me is that whatever I was up to with his son was probably usually not good, but despite his wariness he hesitantly recommended me for a job.
The factory was mostly one giant, open room with various workstations placed just far enough to navigate lumber in between. I was on the night shift, which was mostly populated by rowdy, drunken rednecks on meth. It was the bottom of the bottom and I was depressed as hell from the moment I walked in.
In order to avoid the horror of my predicament mentally I threw myself into the work, cutting and nailing and stacking as fast as I could. After a few days of this I was approached during break by a few of the larger, meaner guys who had a hopeless amount of seniority. They told me I needed to slow down lest I make everyone else look bad, raise expectations, and get us stuck with more work. I happily complied.
Break times were not lunchbox affairs under the dull droning of fluorescent lights like most places. Instead we would pile into the parking lot where there was usually beer, meth and weed standing in for sandwiches and snack cakes. There was even one guy who often had a fucking keg in the back of his truck. I had not yet entered my short meth phase, but between the weed and alcohol sans food I often came back from break feeling pretty shitty.
I usually felt pretty shitty anyhow as a result of all the dust and mold in the place, which I had allergies to, although nothing too serious.
One night I smoked way too much weed, and with the hangover from the night before, I began to feel dizzy. Between all of these things I began to wonder if I might pass out. And then I began to think that it would be for the best if I did.
I hated that job, but I respected my friend and his dad enough that I did not want to quit after only about a month or less. So as I sat on this raised platform working some machine and thinking I might pass out and that I really kind of wanted to, I just decided to fake it.
BAM I went, tumbling from the platform to the ground and hitting it hard. I needed this to look real. After a few seconds I was surrounded by grizzled addicts looking down on me, and I pretended to “come to” and acted surprised and confused.
In hindsight I probably deserve an Oscar for that performance. Or would a Tony be more appropriate?
My ruse was believed and I was taken by a supervisor to the emergency room, where I managed to groom a gullible doctor into pronouncing it related to my allergies and requiring me to leave my employment at the pallet factory.
I managed to avoid offending my friend and his old man, while getting out of a job. But my method acting was so complete that I let everyone I knew believe my lies about the incident. To this day I have never admitted that. In fact I think that at some point I began to believe it had actually happened.
And so I wonder whenever I write these stories if the narrative I am giving is what I actually experienced, or just the memory of a narrative that made a better story at some point in time. I am pretty sure I am not completely full of shit, but if I am, I hope it someday helps me to get out of something that sucks.