When first hired at Wilson, Winston, and Stead, I possessed all the enthusiasm of a young professional in their first salaried position.
I bought a suit from the local thrift store and had it professionally cleaned. I used words like “advertainment” and “wheelhouse.” I walked around the office with a coffee cup attached to my hand and made sure to watch the same TV shows as everyone else. I stayed late. I complimented the boss’s tie.
And I posted all the latest memes on Slack, garnering fist bumps from fellow millennials and confused emojis from everyone else. A whole roster of characters sprang from my keyboard, from Spoderman to Ermahgerd girl — none of that weak minion crap, either. Only the most relevant and incisive memes would do.
I was living the dream.
But it’s been a few years. Now I take longer breaks. I’ve stopped ironing my jeans. I steal lunches from the office refrigerator. Sometimes, when I go to the bathroom, I don’t even pee. I just sit on the toilet playing Candy Crush for half an hour. Whenever someone says the word “disrupt,” I wait until they walk away, then pour my coffee into their filing cabinet.
And I can’t stop posting the evil Kermit meme.
It started in December of 2016. That’s when Kermit and I met (a full month after he broke through the clutter of the Twitterverse, to my shame).
It was a lazy post, a quick response to a message from my boss. He wrote that we needed to figure out a new way to incentivize the team.
“Incentivize the team with donuts,” said good Kermit.
“Eat all the donuts,” said evil Kermit.
Something surged within me.
In that moment I became powerful. No longer was I the obsequious, witty go-getter seeking to personify synergy. Overnight, the coffee in my cup switched from a Starbucks vanilla macchiato to a collection of black grounds from the bottom of the coffee pot.
In my new form I could do anything.
Beneath his midnight cloak, evil Kermit became the conduit for all my worst inclinations. I leveraged the power of his malicious apathy to introduce chaos into the office. It was less a pivot and more an elevator to hell.
I must break free.
What could anyone say? It was only a meme. A simple, lighthearted joke. They didn’t realize each time I posted the meme, I took another step on my journey from friendly, dancing frog to frog who laughs at the horrific nightmares of men.
“Hey, junior? Think you could wear shoes to the next meeting?” asked Bob.
“Wear shoes to meeting,” said good Kermit.
“Steal everyone else’s shoes and wear them on head,” said evil Kermit.
What could Bob do, other than sigh and walk away? Bob hadn’t had a raise in three years, and he certainly wasn’t interested in arguing about Muppets with a young coworker wearing a stained T-shirt with cat butts printed across the front.
Of course this couldn’t go on. Even I knew that.
My future as a disaffected smart-ass is now hard to determine. Will I finally piss everyone off so much that they let me go? Or worse, will I be promoted to management? That would be a horror show too grim for even evil Kermit to contemplate. I must break free.
But even as I know a change must occur, I wonder: Has the corrupt frog sunk his flippers too far into my brain? It’s getting harder and harder to fight back, to say the polite thing or fix my face into a pleasant expression.
Am I supposed to delete the fart noise I set as my ringtone?
Fortunately, some of the concepts from earlier in my career — things like “breaking through the clutter” and being an “agent of change” — are still hidden in the recesses of my mind. I read an article on Fortune about realigning one’s hurdles to make them easier to unpack. Then there was the TED Talk I watched on YouTube. I don’t remember what it was about, but I’m pretty sure it was inspiring.
Perhaps I can reach through the lens tinting my world in hazy green nihilism and find the strength to create a real turnkey solution.
Suddenly, I realize.
To rid my psyche of evil Kermit, I need to perform an exorcism.
Because there isn’t anyone at Wilson, Winston and Stead I trust, I advertise on craigslist for an accessory, making sure to close the browser tab where I generate my evil Kermit memes so he won’t know what I’m up to. Surprisingly, I get a fair number of responses. Apparently people are game for participating in an amateur exorcism. I pick Tim, because I feel comforted by his mustache.
Tim arrives at the office at 10 p.m. with the duct tape, candles, and turntable I requested. The lights are out and the offices of Wilson, Winston and Stead are eerily quiet. Shadows crisscross the halls.
Tim and I break into my boss’s office. As requested, Tim duct-tapes me to the desk and surrounds my body with a ring of lit candles. Then he plugs in the turntable and plays “Rainbow Connection” backwards:
me and dreamers the lovers the
connection rainbow the
it find we’ll someday
see might we think we so what
gazing star us keeps that
amazing so what’s
far so done it’s what look and
it believed someone and
that of thought somebody
star morning the on wished when
answered and heard be would
wish every that said who
While the music plays, Tim hums, “Evil kermit be gone. Do no harm to this person.”
The malevolent force fights back.
“Submit to the exorcism,” says good Kermit.
“Burn down the building,” says evil Kermit.
Fortunately, I’m duct-taped to the desk. Evil Kermit makes one hideous suggestion after another. I can tell Tim wants to giggle, but he remains strong. I made a good choice when I picked him.
I’m lighter without the weight of irony, cynicism, and a taste for chaos.
Finally, just after midnight, I feel evil Kermit exit my body. I’m lighter without the weight of irony, cynicism, and a taste for chaos. The exorcism is a success.
The next morning, I wear my old suit and pick up a Starbucks macchiato on the way into the office. I whistle as I ride the elevator. It’s a new day. I am a new person.
Things will be different.
And they are.
I sit through an entire meeting without posting a single meme, Kermit-related or otherwise. I offer helpful suggestions. My coworkers look at me as though my shoulder has sprouted a camel’s head, but eventually they warm up to the change. Our mindshare is productive and forward-thinking.
Then my boss walks by wearing a new tie with a purple cactus print. I know what I am supposed to do. It’s so easy. I used to do it all the time.
“Compliment the tie,” says good Kermit.
Nothing emerges from my mouth.
“Burn down the building,” says evil Kermit.
I reach for the matches.