VICES

I looked down at my recycling bin this morning and spied five empty coffee cups.

FIVE.

In my defense, only one of them was purchased—Starbucks and I are well-acquainted… just ask my Rewards card or my VISA—and  the rest of them were the standard-issue, environmentally-unfriendly, global-warming-high-fiving Styrofoam jobbies. And while I’ve always known that I drink a potentially unhealthy epic quantity of the bitter bean, the evidence of my full-blown addiction shocked me.  I was five cups in and it was only 11:30AM: that’s a lot of caffeine to jam into my already-frazzled temperament, especially when that aforementioned recycling bin shows little to no sign of food consumption to offset the Java Tsunami now cresting through my veins. It was all a bit startling, to be honest.

My hands are a bit shaky, I feel a bit more jittery than usual. But, I think I’ve been hyper-productive this morning. Here’s a short list in no particular order:

Reviewed some of the thousands of emails in my inbox; 

Built the skeleton of a presentation;

Edited some photos from one of my recent trips while looking up a recipe for something to do with chicken in my freezer;

Answered a string of questions that I’m certain I’ve answered SEVEN times already;

Sifted through the library of items I saved to my Pocket (such a useful tool; not sure what I’d do without it, seeing as I have about 14 seconds of available attention at any given time to completely read anything, based on the amount of shit in there);

Chased three different clients for three different answers on three different things… 

…all while trying to focus on the next few words I’m writing to you. I’m a bit curious what the output looks like to those less caffeinated… I’m a hot mess, I’m telling ya.

And, I need a refill.

I could have worse vices, I suppose. I don’t smoke, but I used to work with a fellow that was perpetually stoned from the time he left the house to the time he went to bed; smart as a whip and incredibly mellow, with just the slightest hint of Eau de Chronic lingering around him. I worked with people that skipped out at 11am, headed straight to the bar that was conveniently located four levels down and planted themselves there until 2:30pm–thank God they served food down there, at least–only to come back up, close out the day and march right back downstairs.

I’ve seen people openly ingest narcotics/barbiturates/alcohol/prostitutes at their desks, in the washroom, or on the boardroom table (yes, you read ALL of that correctly) at various points in any given day while everyone did their best to ignore it. I’ve watched people gamble away hundreds of dollars in an instant on games of liar’s poker, just because they were bored and it would serve as the adrenaline hit they needed; I was the “cashier” for more than one $100-a-roll impromptu craps game that broke out in front of my desk, simply because I was the only one NOT playing (something to do with the fact that I didn’t have $100 to spend on anything in those days, let alone a roll of the dice.)

And that was just the quasi-legal stuff. So my five six coffees before noon habit can be forgiven, I suppose.

But vices can often be a very slippery slope. Most of those people were more than comfortable in all that chaos; they were all high-functioning people, running things and such (or at least,  so was implied by the Benzes they drove and the multi-million dollar “shacks” they called home). But there comes a point where entertainment becomes drudgery, where these activities are less based in enjoyment than they are in survival. It begs the question: could they have been even MORE successful than they already were if they laid off the extracurricular activities? Or did those same activities spawn an even greater output: running at full speed, trying to keep a step ahead of their vices before they overtake them?

The common truth with all of these personalities was the fact that they had to keep running–an insatiable quest for more to fuel their addictions–or it would all fall apart. A little self-interest is a powerful thing; but paired up with an unhealthy penchant for self-destruction, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.

But that’s the longer-term problem with running ahead of the boulder; while Indy managed to get out of the way of his before it squashed him, most people can’t ever really outrun their addictions. Eventually you either enlist some help to pull you out of harm’s way, or you run into them headlong with potentially devastating consequences. Some of the let’s start drinking at 11 crowd discovered quite sadly that alcohol truly is a poison to your body, mind and relationships when consumed in those kind of quantities for that long. I know more than a few of those gamblers that were always looking for their next “fix” who lost more money collectively than most people will make in their lifetimes – with one of them quietly disappearing into the legal system due to “activities” meant to feed those gambling demons.

I have an admittedly healthy appetite for obliteration, it could be argued – but I’ve managed to sidestep the aforementioned vices, settling for one that can be enjoyed with a warm cookie or a breakfast sandwich.  No real harm there; pretty benign as far as these things go, you’d think. But you and I would be wrong; it’s still a drug, just not a heavily regulated or (in some locales) illegal one. And while there are pros and cons a’plenty (especially for you boys hoping to hear the goo’s and gaa’s of little baby Facelesses one day), it’s clear that too much of the stuff can have a staggering affect on your well-being.

Yowzers. Just read that list again… looks like it might be a soda water and lemon kind of afternoon for me. How many cups are in your bin?

Enjoy the weekend, Faceless.


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