I was thinking about my job benefits today, when I remembered that I have long term disability insurance. For those of you who don’t know, this is a gamble your employer takes on your behalf: “Greg is a very valuable and skilled employee. But let’s be honest here, he’s kind of nuts. So let’s pay a company some money so that when he chops his hands off mowing the lawn on ether, they can pay his salary and we won’t have to feel guilty for firing his handless ass.”
When you think about it, long term disability insurance seems like a great deal. They pay you because you can’t work. How awesome is that? It’s like the American Dream come true! The catch is that the insurance company won’t just take your word for it when you say that you cannot work. Feeling sleepy, being hungover, and wanting to catch up on daytime TV are conditions most definitely not on The List, and so I have to go sit through a fucking three hour meeting involving people who say things such as “value-add”. This is bullshit.
But there is one thing on the list that doesn’t involve getting cancer or jamming my leg into a meat grinder, and it’s very hard to diagnose correctly: Insanity, or as I like to call it: Plan A.
Being insane is a lot harder to prove than you would initially suspect. You can’t just show up at the office wearing a speedo and rubbing cream cheese on your nipples, fun as that may be. I mean, it’s pretty out there, but no one is going to suspect insanity, they’re going to suspect drug abuse. And let’s face it, if you’re the kind of person who is going to give this plan an honest shot, you’re not exactly going to be passing a drug test with flying colors. You’ve got to be subtle, start slowly, and build to a climax. A crazy, batshit loonball climax.
Stage I: Showing Signs – It is not enough to just freak out on your fellow coworkers. You have to set the stage so that they may talk amongst themselves and say things such as, “I caught him whispering to his stapler once. But I thought he was just joking around. It’s so sad.” By planting seeds in this fashion, you not only start the ball rolling, but you give everyone a story to tell, and that’s just being considerate of the poor suckers who have to take on your work load when you’re gone.
- Start calling the office printer “Princess”.
- Once a month, wait for a quiet moment in a meeting and say out loud, “Don’t be ridiculous, no one can hear you in there.”
- Skip everywhere.
- Be sure to be seen wearing official Huey Lewis & The News merchandise.
- Wear one shoe with a five foot long shoelace. If anyone mentions it, quickly say, “I’d prefer not to talk about that” and walk away.
The key here is not to overdo it. Do one thing at a time, and let enough time pass after each one so that people almost forget it, but not quite. During this period of time, you must make sure that your work is absolutely perfect. People will tolerate an oddball, but not if he doesn’t get his shit done.
Stage II: Acting A Little Weird – After six to twelve months of setting the table, it’s time to serve an appetizer. You can increase the intensity a little bit, but not too much. The impression you’re going for here is, “Wow, Greg is a fucking weird dude!”, not “Get me a tranquilizer gun and call the nuthouse.”
- Write a long, rambling memo on a topic such as, “What Shall We Do About The Boll Weevils, You And I?” Be careful to avoid work topics entirely, because if you ramble nonsensically about work long enough, they may promote you into management.
- This would be a good time to be seen giving a long, 30 second lick to a wall.
- Build and display a diorama of your office, making sure that mini-you is sitting on a large, ornate throne.
- Begin whistling Huey Lewis & The News’ smash hit “If This Is It” everywhere you go.
- Repeatedly ask coworkers if they know what time is was three and a half hours ago.
Again, don’t go too far, just dial it up a notch. Your work must be absolutely top shelf at this point. Any craziness you introduce into the workplace must not be part of an officially sanctioned project. So turn in that brilliant market analysis as requested, but then send out an email survey asking people’s opinions on the water cooler wanting to get a sex change.
Stage III: Something Is Wrong – By now, people are looking at you with sidelong glances, quickly shuffling away as you approach them in the cafeteria, and while people are still demanding that you do things (such as your job, or take a long vacation), they’ve stopped inviting you to meetings entirely. You are ready to spring some real weirdness on them.
- Run around the parking lot for 45 minutes, come back in holding an arm full of yellow Nerf balls. If anyone asks what you were doing, shout “Stay away from my pollen!” and buzz loudly as you fly back to your desk.
- Decorate your cube as the HMS Bounty, and leave work each day shouting, “So it’s mutiny, is it Mr. Christian? I’ll see that you hang for this!” Show up the next morning looking disheveled, carrying an astrolabe, but otherwise acting as if nothing unusual had happened.
- Install a CB radio in your cube, and carry on long, jargon-filled conversations with truckers.
- Begin dressing and styling your hair as if you were Huey Lewis.
- When the occasional trembling person approaches you and asks you to do something, put on a headset and ask them if they want fries with that. Then deliver the work in a Happy Meal, complete with toy.
You can start dialing it up quite a bit faster now, making sure that you still spread it around so that no one person sees more than one or two of your odd “moments” each day. Your work must still be of good quality, but you may allow it to suffer occasionally for the sake of setting up the next stage. Write, for instance, that “While our competitors believe they are positioned well to take advantage of the cyclical nature of the market, they are, in fact, overestimating their position. By successfully executing the Chef Boyardee gambit, we are sure to avoid initial losses while capitalizing on the inevitable upturn.”
Stage IV: Blowout – If you’ve executed the first three stages correctly, you are on the verge of being confronted by an executive with an eye towards forcing you to take a long vacation. Your employer will be loathe to fire you because of potential lawsuits and your unpredictable nature. When you sense this moment approaching, take a couple of sick days and come into the office acting completely normal. Be productive, friendly, and answer any veiled questions about your previous behavior by claiming, “You know, I just realized over the weekend that I was SO STRESSED! So I took a couple of personal days and now I feel like a million bucks!” Thus reassured, your coworkers will be lulled into a false sense of security, which you will blow sky high in one week when you totally lose your shit.
The most important thing to remember while you’re executing the grand finale is that you cannot act violently or threaten anyone. Even rent-a-cop corporate security guards carry tasers now. You want to make it seem like you’ve got 20,000 volts running through you without actually having to go through the process. That having been said, here’s how you approach it:
- Nudity – You will be nude at some point, simply because crazy people always take their clothes off. Why? Because it reduces the panoply of rapidographs descending on the peripheral melancholy, of course. Don’t ask why, just do it.
- Rambling – Remember that memo about the Boll Weevils? You may take the training wheels off. Say any damn thing that enters your mind, the stranger the better. You feel like shout-rapping a sermon involving Eggo waffles, silverfish, and Sanford & Son? Knock yourself out, Reverend.
- Climb something – Lots of loonies wind up climbing light poles, or cranes, or anything else really tall that comes in handy. You’ll want to climb something if for no other reason than convention. But don’t climb more than twenty feet off of the ground because if you fall you’ll get on long term disability the hard way, and then what was all this crazy shit for? Stick to climbing simple things, like that whore water cooler.
- Sobbing – Sobbing is important because it engenders pity, and you’re going to take advantage of that pity when you suddenly sprint into the parking lot to make your…
- Escape – Before law enforcement arrives, you’ve got to make your getaway. If you don’t, you’ll probably be committed and forced to take the kind of drugs that make you drool, and not in a good way. If you can make it home, you can get your clothes back on, answer the door and have a nice, rational chat with the police in which you will maintain every semblance of sanity, then reluctantly agree to let your wife take you to the hospital for observation, where you can kick back and watch ESPN on valium.
Stage V: Maintaining The Fiction – Now that you’ve got everyone’s attention, the disability checks should start rolling in. Be sure to surreptitiously spit out the psychotropic medication they give you, and begin focusing on crazy, but non-dangerous activities such as flossing your front lawn, writing this blog, or even performance art to ensure that your stay on the disability list is, indeed, long term.