I’m sitting in the basement lunchroom attending a seminar about marketing, but I have no fucking clue what in holy twat it even is. The woman teaching us has a mild midwestern twang to her voice, which isn’t enough to render her incoherent, but enough to make her irritating. The lesson, thus far, has gone the way of most other corporate lectures: boring, lazy, uninspired. We have managed to cover the most mundane of tasks including signing into an unresponsive network, troubleshooting a bad connection, and filling out a few password reset forms — none of which were relevant to the actual topic of the seminar. During this failing diatribe she managed to push the words, “handy” and “dandy.” I want to gouge my eyes out and throw them at her. If you couldn’t tell, I don’t like this woman. I’m sure that she’s very pleasant, but I just don’t like her. There’s something about her that makes my skin crawl. Maybe it’s the unrelenting unmotivated drawl that seeps out of her perfunctory grin. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s the harbinger of four hour seminars that make you realize how much your life sucks. I don’t know how this became about her, I think I’m just projecting because I can, and it’s convenient, and I’m uncomfortable. I hate the shirt I’m wearing. I hate the way the back of this seat pushes me forward and crunches my stomach, making my already enormous gut mash against my conservative button down and distort the fabric. This, like most things, serves as a reminder of my girth. The top of my thigh is sore; or is the bottom of my ass? I could never be sure when my ass ends and my thigh begins. It’s 10:30, still the morning, and while time is something of an enigma I can’t seem to shake the dread that I felt upon discovering that my cat vomited on my bed. I’ve decided to switch chairs, but I don’t want to make a scene or want people to wonder why I switched. I think about the person next to me, offended by my move, taking it personally. I want to say something, but they wouldn’t hear me and I would have to gesture or write it down, and more people would look up, and more people would wonder what was wrong. I just changed seats, but in doing so I accidentally kicked the empty chair in front of me. Everyone stared at me wondering what the commotion was, and wondered why I moved my seat. The person I was sitting next to is looking at me, puzzled. The other chair was worse, so I switched back. To make matters even more uncomfortable, someone came in to look in the fridge while I was switching seats and, to put it mildly, I think someone must be storing body parts. I started to worry that people would associate the sensory onslaught with the smell of my rancid anus lifting from my chair. This smell was punctuated by someone else in the seminar, a coworker, who said to the woman, “The fridge smells like garbage when you open it.” Everyone laughed, except the woman, who delicately raised her hand to her nose and scoffed. I looked up at her, stone-faced, and thought, much like your mouth.
It is evident, by the mainstream media and various social networks, that many people in this great, but often neurotic, nation of the US believe that the terrible and often fatal disease, Ebola, is beginning to spread throughout our population. I couldn’t help but notice the health alerts and unscrupulous reports seeding themselves in the minds of helpless citizens for not much more than a slight increase to their ratings. The way they haphazardly pasted horrific symptoms of the disease as if a casual encounter with someone from West Africa or a sick child of any ethnic background would cause such an affliction. Some people, and this is just a small bit of what’s to come of this, have already started to buy gas masks, hazmat suits, tarps, and bulk sanitizer from the reports. A pseudo-mass-hysteria (“pseudo” because people are too lazy in this country to truly become hysterical and, when they are not too lazy, they feel safe enough with their tarps, tape, and tinfoil hats) is on it’s way from this, like everything else that the media digs its claws into to sensationalize and monetize. The way that people tend to overreact to such things that never come to fruition is so curious to me. It’s as if they have forgotten about 2012, Nancy Lieder, Pat Robertson, and Harold Camping – and those are just a few from this past decade. Sure, I have sited a few failed predictions about the end of the world, from Wikipedia no less, and I know that predictions from crazy uninformed people about the end of the world has nothing to do with falsified news reports from unethical money-grubbing monsters, but their is a common thread: Ignorance. In all instances, people were discrediting the evidence, all the evidence, from the whole of the scientific community in favor of nonsensical dribble that was convenient and easy to digest. I am not trying to pretend that I am above all those who fall for such chicanery (yes, I just used “chicanery” in a sentence), I am easily fooled as well. It was just a couple of days ago that a close friend of mine called from her Mother’s home in Connecticut about two cases of Ebola being found in Atlanta, Georgia. My immediate reaction was a slight bit of panic and fear – I took what she said at face value and let my anxiety get the best of me. Though I have something in my arsenal that most people don’t: Skepticism. The tools awarded to me by Skepticism allowed me to take a step back from this and properly do my research. I didn’t do a google search for Ebola and click on the first hit because that, I knew, would only deliver the most sensationalized articles with the most hits which doesn’t necessarily mean the most accurate. I immediately went to the Center for Disease Control’s website, CDC.gov, and typed in Ebola. The information I found was extremely informative and let me in on a little secret: That the United States is at almost zero risk for an Ebola epidemic, that the epidemic is only in West Africa at the moment and has infected about 1600 people, killing 800, and while this is a very depressing statistic, it is nothing close to the numbers the media made it seem were effected. So, it pays to be aware. It is not criticism, denial, or cynicism. It is simply a case of choosing to have the facts, vet all sources, and listen to people who do this sort of thing for a living.
“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” – Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale