Afterward his director spoke to him about losing the respect of the staff and said people were asking her what was wrong with him and did he have a mental illness though she refused to name names. She said his rant at the meeting didn’t sound normal, it sounded rambling, rapid and pressured like someone on cocaine or getting manic and “you need to get help immediately because this can’t continue”. He got help by complaining to a psychiatrist how stressed he felt by his cutthroat job in which he constantly felt judged and couldn’t trust anyone. Now it would be worse than ever since he was diagnosed as paranoid by his boss and put on medication by his psychiatrist, but his alienation from his fellow workers and the work itself deteriorated, especially as he knew that given the economy, this was the last job he would ever have, at his age there would never be another, this was the culmination of what was supposed to be a stellar career. Meetings, meetings, meetings. One after the other. Small and big. Mostly with one other person. These required actual attention at least half the time. The bigger the meeting, the less actual attention required, the more loudmouths were delighted to monopolize the conversation, something he would never do again. This was what his life had come to. Ah, when he entered his car. The solitude. The crawling into bed early, to be alone except for his nonjudgmental cat. The greatest pleasure in life had come down to a negative: the absence of a meeting.
Unfortunately, however, the minute his eyes closed, the ruminations began. There he was again, in meeting after meeting, all night long, saying the wrong things, being mocked and laughed at, feeling ashamed, reliving the moments of The Ranting endlessly. For the truth was, as long as he worked in that unforgiving place and lived in that unforgiving head, it would never ever end.
Gloria Garfunkel has a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University. She was a therapist for thirty years and recently switched to full-time writing. She has published over fifty stories, mostly flash fiction, and is working on two story collections.