Recently at work a corporate email was sent to everyone asking us if we would like to participate in a “voluntary health study.” My usual reaction to such surveys is “NO !” but I am a bit of a cheapskate and this one offered us a $25 dollar tax free reward for completing it. $25 bucks the cost of a tank of gas. My mind was made up and I began to answer the fairly routine sounding questions with about as much thought as the planners of the Millenium Dome put into that ill fated project. After an initial section about illnesses it moved onto questions about how you viewed your job. “Do you ever wish you didn’t have to be at work ?” Well stop me if I am mistaken but I always thought that the reason “work” was called “work”was because it involved “work.” If it didn’t we would refer to it as “fun” or “ball of laughs” but we don’t so obviously “work” isn’t exactly at the top of my list of favourite ways to spend a day. The only reason I go to work is to get money. If one day they decide to make work unpaid and voluntary I can assure you that I would immediately find something far more entertaining to fill my days.
The next question was “Are there times when you wish you had a different job ?” This was probably the stupidest question since the Egyptian army commader aksed “Do you think Moses will keep the sea parted long enough for us to get across ?” I think about having a different job every day ! I could be an astronaut, a film director, a professional football player earning tens of thousands per minute rather than per year and with a retirement age of 30 to look forward to. Naturally I answered yes to both of these questions thinking that honesty was the best policy because anyone who said “no” was obviously a liar or someone with the personality of a sub ameoba.
Two weeks passed before I received a letter with the word “confidential” emblazoned across it on every side. Thinking it was another plea from the bloody Republicans for campaign donations I opened it to see if there was a “Bush/Cheney” sticker inside that I could plaster across the car of some unsuspecting lefty. To my great disapointment there were no stickers inside.
There was however a letter which was long and rambling because the writer is probably paid by the key stroke but the general jist of it was that this medical company were following up with me because they were concerned as to my mental state. They highlighted my answers to the above questions as the reason for their concern and suggested that I should call their helpline immediately to seek counselling since I was obviously suffering from a dangerous depression. I wouldn’t exactly characterise hearing my bloody alarm go off at 6.45am each morning and resisting the urge to break into a dance of joy as being in a depression. I don’t think I am unusual for not performing cart wheels across the parking lot at work each morning to illustrate my delight at another day of banking as being perculiar. Evidently this company disagreed.
I chuckled a little then tossed the letter into the trash can along with 37 credit card pre approval letters and an offer to renew my subscription to Jane magazine for another year. I thought for a few seconds about signing up for Jane again since it had been three years since they had mistakenly started sending me free issues because somehow they got my name mixed up with some poor woman who has probably been checking her post dilligently ever since and wondering what kind of scam they were running. Ultimately the fact it is a womens magazine and I am a man swayed me against taking up that option although it will be difficult to make the adjustment to life without Jane. However getting back to the point of the story about one week later I received another letter marked “Urgent”. Needless to say it didn’t contain andy stickers either but was another letter from the health company expressing their “increasing conern for my well being” since I had failed to respond to their earlier correspodance. Another week passed and they took it to the next level. The phone calls began.
Now when I have just got home from an utterly tedious day spent listening to old women tell me about how their pet cat is suffering from diabetes and how the government won’t do anything about it, the last thing I want to do is talk to some camp sounding fellow called “Chad” about my innermost thoughts on the American dream. After trying to explain to Chad that I wasn’t depressed I eventually hung up. That was a big mistake. “Devon” called me almost immediately back. “I undertsand that you were talking to Chad and got upset when he asked you some difficult questions but we are here to help you through your depression.” At this point I seriously started to get angry. These bloody people were obviously hell bent on harrasing me up to the point of suicide so that they could say “See ! You do need our help.” It was time to unplug the phone. The rest of the night passed without incident although every time I heard a car drive by I half expected the men in white coats to break down the door and drag me off to a centre for conditioning miserable sods who don’t like coming to work. Luckily the men in white must have been pre-occupied with every other grumpy git at my work because nobody broke down my door and it was another two days before I got an email from the same company.
The email implored me to contact them because my reaction to their “outreach” had only served to prove my deep seated unhappiness with life and that this would be there final attempt to reach me. When I read this email I was about as close to leaping for joy as I have ever been whilst being couped up inside a stuffy office. At last I could have my life back. I could be as miserable as I wanted without fear of harrasment. If I wanted to throw the alarm clock out the window, beep my horn in traffic, curse at the traffic lights or roll my eyes at every half wit and loser I had to encounter through my 8 hour work day, I could do so without any interferance from Chad or Devon. I was free !
A few days later I was sitting at my desk wondering if there was a sign outside my office saying “Pennyless bums this way,” when someone called Tequila (She is a trainee whose parents were obviously drunkards) tossed an internal memo onto my desk. It read “We have been asked to contact you on behlaf of xxxx company who have been unable to set up an appointment with you to discuss you internal health survey results.” This was it. The time had come to launch myself out of the window ……