I’m The Abandoned Sound Machine In Your Therapist’s Waiting Room And I’m Fucking Killing This Self-Care Brochure

It’s me, that ecru dome-shaped thing in your therapist’s waiting-room. When patients are early, or phlegmy, or SO LOUD with their crinkly snacks—it’s my job to keep your sessions private and undisturbed. Well, that was my job, until the boss and her sensible shoes walked out the door, leaving me shhhhuuushing in sibilant solitude.

At first I was annoyed she left me on, but I remembered hearing something about zooming and corona, so I figured she was just rushing off to grab drinks. Only, she never came back…and it’s not just her. Usually, I hear people from the other therapy offices shuffling down the halls at patient shift change, but not anymore.

Listen, I’m spooked. Sound sentries like me aren’t built to be alone, too many codependency issues! I only have two modes; OFF and checked out, or totally ON and problem-solving for everyone else. Perhaps a little forced “me time” would be healthy? I could make the best of it and finally read one of those self-help brochures on the table. Huzzah for me, turning isolation into an amazing opportunity for personal growth!

Hssshaha. I was so optimistic when I started my “Self-Care in Times of Stress” brochure journey.

“Carve out alone time.“ LOL! Nailed it.

“Avoid Junk Food.” While I’ve been known to suck down the occasional gamey clump of pet hair, snacking was never my thing. Good thing options are limited now, I’d inhale anything just to cut the boredom. 

“Get enough sleep.” Pssshaww, the way my gears are spinning? It’s not like I can just flip the switch and power down all by myself. OH…look who just aced “Set Realistic Expectations!”

I was killing it until the “Time Management” section. HOW LONG have I been here with nothing to orient me but the monotony of my own whirring thoughts? Without patients or New Yorker magazines to measure by, I completely lost track of TIME! How many New Yorkers has it been—one, two, A THOUSAND?! I haven’t seen a new cover since March 9th, when that screaming orange guy with the mask-covered eyes showed up.

When I stopped hyperventilating, I tried to “Establish a Work Routine” by pretending the screaming orange guy was a patient to muffle. It got a little meta: me with no mouth loudly shuuuuuushing; him with his HUGE mouth silently roaring.

Whoooosh! Silent fury.
Whir…? Rage face.

I was like…please man, do SOMETHING to help me out here! Hssshahahah, I must have looked ridiculous! The absurdity—as if this caricature of a man would care about my suffering.

His face was pissing me off, so I tried pushing air through my vents to pffffffttt-flip the page. Unfortunately, I was so flummoxed I forgot—my patented technology creates the sounds of rushing wind, but not the disturbance of measurable air flow, so it was hopeless.

Brochure says I should “Find Tranquility in Nature,” so I tried focusing on the ficus in the corner, watching its leaves sway in my delusional breezes. Am I hallucinating? Definitely. But while I’m losing touch with reality, might as well try to conjure up some imaginary friends so I can “Stay Connected!”

SHHHHHHHHHHT. No luck. I’ve been alone so long, I can’t even IMAGINE having people around.

I’m SO TIRED of listening to myself whiiiine in this echo-torture chamber! The water-cooler used to let a bubble rip every once in a while. I hated that about him, but even those sounds would be a comfort now. Bubble-bud? Coolio? I should have nicknamed you when I had the chance…should have appreciated you more.

Hear that BROCHURE? I’m PrActiCinG gRatiTuDE. Can I have my serenity now? Please? If you tell me to “RELAX” or “FOCUS ON MY BREATHING” one more time….I would KILL YOU to focus on something other than my own INCESSANT BREATHING!

Whoa…I meant kill TO—I would kill TO focus…

Okay. If I don’t make it—and honestly, I hope I don’t because I just had words with a brochure, or imagined I did, and either way it’s mortifying—know that I miss you dear waiting-room friends. Wherever you are, if you have other people to drone on to,  treasure them!

Early comers, have you slowed down? Phlegmy folks, are you well?
Loud eaters, you’re probably better off alone, but I’d give anything to be annoyed by you again.

STOP mocking me Kleenex, you sanctimonious stack of tissues. I’d cry if I could, but I CAN’T CRY, and I CAN’T SELF-ACTUALIZE in this agonizing state of uncertainty. All I can do is wait, watching the ficus drop its leaves, envying his inevitable end.

Just one final whish: If an apocalyptic event has left humanity on the brink of extinction, could one of you PLEASE turn off the power grid on your way out!?

And if you grabbed one of these brochures, please toss it in your nearest dumpster fire.

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