Dilbert, the Abyss


In an early Dilbert comic strip, Dilbert passes a security guard who sits at a desk doing nothing. Dilbert looks at the man and thinks “Oh, if only I had that luxury! I wonder to what depths my mind would wander?” These are the thoughts of a hopeless loser. The security guard wonders what balsa wood tastes.

Dilbert wastes himself. In the morning, when the world is full of promise, Dilbert wakes up in his bedroom, which is almost totally devoid of furnishing. There are no paintings on the wall, no posters, there is nothing. It has been years since a woman has seen it, and even then she only glanced at it from the threshold, nervously. His bed has never been touched by a woman. Delicate fingers have never traced the underside of a pillow. Dilbert doesn’t remember the sound a woman makes when she is startled, or laughing, not even instinctually or from past lives. His soul is completely barren, an empty beach with only a puddle for a lake, not even enough water to come up to your knees.

Downstairs Dogbert is wagging his tail furiously but refuses to let him pet him: does he know something? When was the last time Dilbert touched anything that was warm and didn’t click? Mombert doesn’t count. Dilbert tries not to think about what he does on weekends with his wig and web camera.

Sometimes Dilbert goes on dates with different coloured ponytails. They walk in the park mostly and have conversations, because that’s all that Dilbert is any good at. Dilbert keeps his hands in his pockets. The ponytails never touch him. If he’s lucky, later they will acknowledge him on the street or in line at the supermarket.

At work Dilbert loses whole hours, as if he has been chloroformed, or drunk. He checks BoingBoing.net and Gizmodo.com frequently. When either hasn’t been updated since the last time he checked it he scrolls up and down uselessly, as if he is pacing. Sometimes he will refresh, other times he will open a new window and check his e-mail, which he approaches as if he were scratching a lottery ticket. His leg muscles have accustomed themselves to sitting down, and they grow fat and balloon wildly when he does.

Lunchtime means Wally and Alice and pulling sandwiches out of plastic containers dispensed by a vending machine. Wally will discuss how he has found a new way to cheat hours out of the budget in exchange for doing nothing. Alice will tense her fists and gripe about how she is underappreciated and doesn’t remember the names of her children. Dilbert will make agreeable statements and look back at his colleagues with glasses that reflect and display nothing. They are totally white.

In his head he tells himself that he is frustrated by his “uninteresting, boring colleagues” and his “clueless, pointy-haired boss,” who over- and under-manages, who is incompetent, who doesn’t seem to understand anything. If it were not for Dilbert’s manager, who is like a pebble in a hiking boot, Dilbert would be in a coma. He lives for the snide comments he is allowed to make during their progress updates and staff meetings.

“We need to update our hardware to the SSCIOP Operating Standard.”

“But we just implemented a new hardware operating standard last month! We wasted half a year and thousands of dollars!”

“Regardless, it is absolutely essential that we update our hardware to the SSCIOP Operating Standard as soon as possible.”

“Why? So that you can justify yourself to your own, clueless, pointy-haired managers?”

“Actually, my bosses all have lush, full heads of hair.”

By the time that Dilbert goes home it is already dark out. He checks his mailbox and pulls out three plain white envelopes. They are all bills. He loosens his tie as he walks through the threshold. He collapses on the sofa and spends forty minutes staring at the ceiling. Eventually Dogbert walks in and discusses how much money he made that day being ruthless and immoral. Dilbert gets up from the couch and microwaves a burrito. He flips through last month’s issue of Popular Mechanics and eats out of a bag of chips while he waits for his burrito to finish. When he’s finished eating he turns on the television or sits on the couch reading a technical manual, or puts on a pink bathrobe and a wig stuffed with curlers and heads to the basement and pretends to be his mother.

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