My name is Alec. I’m the thing you do most of the time. You wake up five days a week and open your laptop to me. I resemble something semi-related to your college degree. I offer you a moderate level of societal respect and ensure that you’re spared from sweating while working. I provide you with free evenings and weekends off.

From the outside, I appear to require some level of expertise. Strangers assume I have a well established set of best practices based on quality research and decades of maturation. When you read my description online, you weren’t sure if you possessed the skills necessary to fulfill my more advanced duties. Soon after spending a little time with me, you realized you wouldn’t have any trouble whatsoever completing the tasks I demand of you.

I make you feel like a fraud. I confuse your sense of self-worth. I distract you from more worthwhile endeavors. I gaslight you. I lie to you. I make you lie to yourself.

I am a paycheck disguised as a profession.

Did I mention my name is Alec? What a shitty name. What a false sense of importance.

When you first met me you had a lot of good ideas. Your mind was sharp. You ate well. You cared about your work. I remember one of our first meetings. You said something timely that spoke directly to the issue we were discussing. It was a great insight on how we could improve our strategy. But I quickly constrained your acumen. If I recall my quote correctly, I believe I told you that, “Our strategy is to do what the important people want, and do it fast, regardless of how stupid or short-sighted it may be.” You looked confused. You asked if we could politely dissent. I laughed in your face.

I pay you well. Just well enough that you feel like a professional forty percent of the time. I give you a good title. Almost no one knows your title. But the people who matter know. And they keep writing your checks. I keep you insured. I provided a sense of security for your life, as shallow and porous as your actual security is. Because of me, your life is running fairly smoothly. For now.

Each day, I pretend to give you purpose. Sometimes you pretend with me. You always pretend when your boss is around. But mostly, you feel my meaninglessness. My absurdity. You are deeply acquainted with how inconsequential I am.

I compel you to deny the emptiness. You feel like a coward.

But you need me.

I pay your bills.

I pay for your addictions.

I’ll be with you until I’m not.

And not too long after, you’ll die, regretting me with your last breath.