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 VISAand  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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