I Will Set the Building On Fire

by Frost on March 16, 2011

Surrounding yourself with suited-up, pseudo-successful ladder-climbers will make you feel simultaneously great and awful about your life. Great, because you’re not them. Awful, because you’re never quite sure how many months you have left until you are.

Today, a few observations on office life. Think of it as a “scared straight” PSA for twenty-somethings who are considering that the lifelong cubicle/picket fence route may not be so bad after all.

This morning, a frumpy, poorly dressed woman in her 40’s lumbered ahead of me in line at my office’s coffee/variety store. Low-level admin, I assume. She buys a scratch-off lottery ticket. She wins… another lottery ticket. She wins again off the new one, this time $3 on a $1 ticket. Finally, she buys THREE MORE and walks her fat, innumerate ass back to her cubicle.

Watching her, I consider how much money she’s wasted on lottery tickets over her life. I wonder if anyone has ever explained to her the idiocy of what she’s doing. I think that, even if she does know, maybe she’s still willing to trade hundreds of dollars a year in expected cash flows for a brief glimmer of hope every day over her lunch break.


There are some people you just can’t make small talk with, because they just have nothing to say. Ask them about their weekend and they dump a big load of negative energy on you every time – the sad truth is, most people don’t really do anything in their free time.

Some of them are overworked to the point of exhaustion, and don’t really have much “free time” to speak of. They are generally successful in their careers, even though their twenties and thirties are evaporating in front of them. That’s not what I want in life, but I guess it works for some people.

The really sad sacks are the ones who just don’t have anything to do. They put in a forty-hour work week and spend the rest of their waking hours – I don’t know – watching TV? Whatever it is, they don’t have anything to reply with when I ask them what they did over the weekend.


The unmarried are the saddest of all. Among the middle-aged people in my office, those with families are the happiest. They’re also the easiest to work with, since they have more important things in their lives to worry about than gossip or perceived slights against them by colleagues and bosses. The truly dead souls shuffle ring-less through our hallways with their heads down. The women have short-cropped hair and a constant sneer. The men are fat, sloppy, unkempt.

So what’s the takeaway from this post?

Each of the middle-aged mediocrities that I walk past every day was once twenty-five and full of dreams. One out of a hundred are living lives their younger selves would be proud of. Maybe half can’t stand the face they see in the mirror every morning.

My plan to avoid their fate is to be healthy, bang girls, kick ass at my job and save money for some extended travel. What’s yours?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lovekraft May 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I decided when first working at my current job (eleven years ago) to never contribute to any work charity, draw, lottery and I estimate that in that time I have saved around $2000 dollars!

MC March 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm

My wife and I are having a ton of kids. They mean more to me than anything. And when I”m old I’ll have grandkids. That and my faith in God are what give me meaning in my life.

Zen Buddhist March 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm

The woman buying lotto tickets may be doing it for the first time, or just once in a while. I know people who do it every once in a while and win. Their winnings far outweigh their spending.

Just because she buys lotto tickets doesn’t mean she doesn’t have anything going on upstairs.

If getting laid is the only aim (as commenter above seems to think so) then we must question who has something or nothing going on upstairs.

Rage against the machine just to get laid?

That’s another wheel in the cog, mate.

Spark March 20, 2011 at 9:22 am

About getting laid with women in Latin America, to avoid being over-positive about the prospects for men which I think I was a little bit, I would qualify my post above to say some personality is needed to engage the woman, to make her smile and laugh, to have a chance no matter one’s age. Broken Spanish and funny misunderstandings can work to one’s advantage. Also a guy will meet some women that insist you have to be serious about her before she will give it up, and others just require the 2 or 3 dates. But the key point is it is hard to convey how much easier it is for a man to enjoy a satisfying and varied sex life with desireable non-fat non-ugly women in Latin America, , or ultimately perhaps finding a special sweet one who is a true keeper, compared to anywhere in the US.

In Latin America I think Game should be modified to be less “asshole” and more “cocky funny” teasing and not even that cocky necessarily – many of these latin women dislike the local machista men (even as many settle for sexing them) and appreciate a bit of contrasting niceness a foreign AM can offer.

Spark March 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

+1 to Jesse. My own life is a bit bipolar. I work an office job as a programmer and am comfortable and financially secure as long as these dollars function which won’t be forever, but mid 40s and single and no prospects in the AW dating market, my social life locally is lacking. I eat healthy, high-protein, low carb, natural foods with local grass-fed beef a mainstay, stay fit and look young for my age. But the incentive to go out and hit the clubs or pursue women just isn’t there because the payoff is not going to happen for me.

It all changes every time I step off the plane. My favored destinations have been Lima Peru or Medellin Colombia. Despite rampant poverty in many areas and bad neighborhoods, these destinations overall are fantastic modern cities that have on offer everything any world-class city could have. I enjoyed a half-year stay in Lima Peru a few years back. The mainstay protein changes from grass-fed beef to ceviche, but grass-fed meats can be found in the supermarkets and restaurants there as well.

In Lima any reasonable north american or european guy under 40 who can engage the girls a bit in Spanish should get laid for the cost of a relatively cheap night out most every night. In Medellin it is a bit more challenging for the over 30 guys but the women are hotter. In either place, for others older or fat or ugly or socially-awkward, getting sex with desireable women may more often mean hookups with “pro”, or more commonly and more satisfactorily, “semi-pro” women. Due to the extremely low wages that working-class jobs provide, both cities, and most large cities generally in South America, have very large numbers of these kind of loose women, and most can’t be distinguished in any way from non-pros. Those getting free sex will learn that a surprising number of their free lays may be or turn into semi-pros. A guy will usually get the “necesito dinero” sooner or later if he keeps seeing her. But all in all its great fun for any and all guys willing to try the adventure.

Jill March 20, 2011 at 8:03 am

I can’t work in an office for exactly that reason-it gives me a feeling bordering on a panic attack because nothing in this world would be worse than becoming someone who would get in a heated argument about office supplies or fax machine usage.

Jesse March 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm

you’re thinking from way too educated a perspective. get a shit working class job and work a year then head off to S America for 2 years. live in colombia or ecuador and don’t work a single day. then head back when the moneys out. you actually need a lot less money than you think. why work around these middle class fools. be around some real working class people. do a manual labor job–build your muscles. destroy yourself lifting and throwing shit, not getting fat sitting in a cubicle. learn something new outside the middle class life. and dont let your idea of extended travel be a backpack, buses/trains and youth hostels. youll be around people exactly like you. people who think just like this post and write the same thing on their blogs. push it a little harder, bro. push it all little fucking harder. youre almost there.

NomadicNeill March 17, 2011 at 7:26 am

That story about the lotter ticket buying woman reminds of what went on at one of my last jobs.

Every week the whole office would enter into the lottery, I played once, thinking it was harmless. But I didn’t like the feeling or thought it gave me. It was: ‘I hope I win this lottery so I’ll have millions and won’t have to worry about anything again’.

I decided that was a terrible thing and that none of my precious mental capacities should be dedicated to such a ludicrous idea. After all the chances of winning the lottery are less than being hit by lightning. It’s a false hope, a false sense of security, dangling a carrot in front of yourself that you will most likely never get.

Seems like a silly little thing to pick up on but I’m glad I’m aware of where I put my focus and energy. Not saying I’m perfect, I have plenty of negative unhelpful thoughts and feelings, but I’m aware of them and do my best to correct them.

Morghan March 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Do a job I enjoy so I’m rarely ever actually working.

There are trade offs.

For one thing most drones make more money than me. However I’m better than most at budgeting, especially now that the ex is gone, so I probably have a better path to retirement than those who are showing off their wealth. I pay for quality, but not for fashion, so while I buy expensive clothes they last me years or even decades. My truck is old enough that you don’t need a lab to work on it, so there’s more money saved. I don’t go to the gym, I chase my kids around, carry a rucksack full of rocks and use 5-Gallon water bottles as dumbbells. About the only thing I spend freely on is food, but maintaining my health is well worth paying triple what I could get away with.

They also probably have a much more accessible flat to take some woman back to, but why would anyone want to let them know where they live?

I’m not wowing the women with a flashy car or fancy clothes either, but an old pickup that is clean (on the inside) and always works, a healthy body, and an aura of manliness that isn’t easy for the cubicle-bound to match seems to make up for that. Also, it weeds out the gold diggers and cuts down on the number of feminists looking for a good little he-slave to serve them when the most valuable things you own are bound up in your skin.

A lot of people would likely disagree, but I’m living life the way I want, and in my eyes that makes me richer than money ever could.

Previous post:

Next post: