The Boring Birth of a Sociopath


So bored

It’s the first couple of weeks back at school and I am busy. There are dozens of duties: planning, creating syllabi, tweaking methodology, meetings out of the proverbial wazoo.

While I do love teaching and being in the classroom, it’s nice to have time to ease into things. And the above duties provide that sort of alone, unhindered time.


When teachers aren’t teaching, others seem to view their time as a thing at their disposal. For this reason, we end up with some seriously menial duties.

Today I am shredding.

Upon returning to the university we learned that the last decade’s worth of tests cluttering up the department’s shelves were to be disposed of immediately. This is, of course, so that we can make room for the next ten year’s tests.

In order to dispose of these tests, we have been asked to shred them. Today is my turn, so today I am shredding.

At first, shredding is not the worst thing in the world. It’s not taxing in a physical or mental way. I am left alone by those who delegate (have delegated me this task, in fact), but it means I’m off the hook for anything worse that might come along. Furthermore, and as with any anal retentive obsessive jack wagon, I organize the task so it‘ll go at its most efficient.

My colleagues and I gossip about school and office. Occasionally, I find a set of tests from a teacher whose name I don’t know and I ask the others to break up the quiet.

“Anybody ever heard of Deborah Johingleson?”


We laughingly come up with the peculiar folktale of Deborah Johingleson, which of course ends in her gruesome demise. Turns out she was a relatively stable teacher of English who was then asked to do menial labor which sent her into a sociopathic fit. She leaped through the 8th floor window clutching a sack of Xeroxed answer sheets and a staple remover.

We all laugh.


We have had a lot of coffee.

The chit-chat eventually ends because while I am doing a menial task my colleagues are doing more mentally demanding work like planning courses. The room is quiet but for the paper shredder eating its lunch.

After making the exact same movements for 120 minutes, the monotony gets to me. Pick up five tests, stack them neatly, find the sweet spot in the shredder’s mouth and slide them into dicey oblivion. Every twenty minutes I open the shredder and stuff the shreds into a huge bag. After cleaning it out three times I don’t even need the red indicator light to know it’s time. I just know. I move like a machine. It’s the same. It’s always the same.

For a while I work stories in my head. Create a character, dress him up, outfit him with an animal and a physical dysfunction, match him up with another character, and then throw them into a situation. But the mind crushing monotony, coupled with the pain that’s growing in my lower back, continuously destroys them.

Eventually, the boredom drives me to one character: Deborah Johingleson.

I try to create her in my head. Mousy brown hair, a penchant for long dresses, gerbils, a clubbed foot. But I have trouble. I have never heard of her. Why not? She was here only a year before I was, and I know of other teachers who were here before me. Why haven’t I heard of this woman? There’s only one reason: she’s been intentionally hidden from me.

The conspiracy theory grows as I hear the chatter around me: bosses laugh in their office, colleagues’ concentrated typing and the shuffling of coursebooks. I am stuck like Quasimodo feeding an endless stream of papers into a just-low-enough-to-screw-with-my-back box with teeth. I become sore and resentful. I stretch, but it doesn’t help. I announce my need to go to the bathroom and then I leave the room.

In the bathroom, I pace. They are trying to drive me insane. That’s why I have been assigned this task today, this is their way of sending me over the edge. This sort of thing has happened before. Just ask Deborah Johingleson! I am sweating so I open the window, look out at the cement parking lot far below. When I realize I am clutching two tests to my hip, I step away from the window. They may have gotten Debbie (we are kindred spirits now), but they won’t get me.

I head back, take my seat at the box of doom, and pick up the shredding. I inform everyone within earshot that I will do the one remaining stack of papers on the table and then I am leaving for the day. The boss agrees tentatively, and probably wonders why I am glaring at her and sweating at the same time.

I finish off the stack, all the while imagining a group of teachers in ten years coming across a set of ancient tests with my name on them and asking, “What ever happened to this Damen Galbone?”

And they’ll never know.

  1. #1 by PJ on September 7, 2015 - 2:09 pm

    Galbone? Oh, that guy was awesome. Really funny but a little weird. Remember that time he got the meat sweats from eating a salad?

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