My Villain Origin Story

Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker staring in a mirror that tells him in lipstick to put on a happy face. It's hard to do that when life has repeatedly kicked on in the balls-which is generally how a villain origin story starts.
“Nobody thinks what it’s like to be the other guy.”

There are few movies I related to more on a gut level than 2019’s “Joker”. Like Arthur Fleck, life’s kicked me in the balls more times than I can count. That’s how a villain origin story usually starts, correct? And as an autistic woman, “putting on a happy face” to fit in while hiding my OWN agony has gotten pretty damn old, especially THIS year. Because when I tell you that 2023 has been like a bad country song of a year-holy shit. My dog died. Our trustiest vehicular steed is having a scary internal issue that we don’t have funds for. Let’s not forget costly home repairs. Suffice it to say we’ve got money worries (hence no gifts this year). And so forth. You get the idea.

And now of course, we are smack in the midst of the so-called “most wonderful time of the year” (I’m swallowing vomit as I write this) but THIS year is the WORST thanks to <gestures at everything I just wrote above>. So yeah. I’ve been kicked in the cooch by Life quite a bit recently and I’m OVER it. And something happened JUST recently that sent me over the edge and Dark Meredith has taken over. To wit, my villain origin story begins with a MOST special sort of Joker-coded, Clark Griswald-esque Christmastime clownfuckery, so grab a cup of hot chocolate, get comfortable, and let’s get into it.

A jelly of the month club certificate presented to one Mr. Clark Griswold. You know the rest of THAT villain origin story.
Christmas clownfuckery; a villain origin story begins

How My Villain Origin Story Began

To quote my friend Bobby, “the clownfuckery (yes, I really like that word) of the holidays” is always something I’ve had to just get through. Which is REALLY tough when working for bosses who seem to delight in fucking their underpaid employees over. You know the type I’m talking about. Pompous dickholes who talk about “record profits” out of one side of their neck while telling their employees “sorry, no bonuses” out the other. BUT I notice these same employers who are “SO BROKE” will spend a GRIP on an after-hours holiday party that you MUST attend if you like having a paycheck.

You know why these employers spend so much money on a holiday party that NOBODY WANTS TO GO TO? Three words. TAX. WRITE. OFF. Yet another tool in the “prick of a boss” trade that benefits THEM and not YOU, as the worker. It has NOTHING and I mean NOTHING to do with employee appreciation, but instead has EVERYTHING to do with the theft of your time, gas, and energy to get to this party. Even if it’s at the fanciest place in town, I DON’T WANT TO FUCKING GO.

Neither myself or my husband see so well at night. We go to bed at the crack of sundown, since we’re up at the crack of dawn. Our autistic tummies don’t do real well with oversalted, preservative-filled restaurant food. But WE (the general we) know if WE want to keep our jobs, no matter HOW we feel about it, WE have to just suck it up and go.

Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker raising his lips with his fingers into a macabre smile in his own villain origin story movie.
Me prepping for every holiday party ever

Holiday Fuckery At Its Finest

Look. I know everyone’s broke, especially now. I get it. This country is most likely headed into a recession. College graduates with MASTER’S DEGREES can’t find a job right now. So let me just say for the record that employed folks are VERY GRATEFUL to have a steady paycheck coming in. Okay? But when there’s been no raise in sight for the last couple of years and your Fearless Leader is asking the impossible of your team on the daily? Not to mention that lately, they’ve been acting like they might need to re-read How To Become A Better Boss?

You get a little discouraged in your spirit. It starts grinding on your psyche. You’re not as eager to begin your day as when you first started there. Remember? When you were so excited to see oh, the places you’d gratefully go? Remember when you were looking forward to six months later when there might be a raise in the works?

Spoiler: there wasn’t. And your boss laughed in your face when you asked as directed at your six-month review. You already knew it, but you can’t win if you don’t play, right?

woman sitting on chair while leaning on laptop
Tired doesn’t even begin to describe it.

So I think it’s safe to say that at this point you’re a little worn out. Hell, you’re a LOT worn out. But then when the holidays roll around, there’s that wisp of a hope that hey, maybe they’ll slip $100 into a card from CVS and say Hey, Merry Christmas. Thanks for doing a good job this year. Because like I said, we know times are tough, and not to expect much.

Not yet, but they will shortly.

Enter The Holiday Party Dragon And The Catalyst Of Your Undoing

Let me paint a picture for you. It’s a particularly dark, rainy, wintery night. The holiday party looms. You are NOT looking forward to it. In fact, you’re ALREADY pissed off by the location change due to Boss overriding the popular vote of venue. Why? Because HE loves New Location so much, so tough shit on you. Fantastic. Your stomach is in knots at the thought of unknown food which might play havoc with your colon as well as driving somewhere far AND unfamiliar given your poor night vision. ESPECIALLY in the rain. Yeah, you’ve seen this Hallmark movie already – couple attends holiday party just to buy the farm on the way home or someone gets widowed – and you’re not trying to have life imitate art. Not today.

But given that you MUST attend because what will it look like if you don’t, you soldier on, not knowing WHAT to expect.

Sidenote – this breeds FEAR into autistic people. We do not like surprises. We ALWAYS want to know exactly what we’re in for.

A Christmas Fuckening That Sneaks Up On Little Cat Feet

And you’re not real happy about it, but we must do what we must do, right? I’m certain you can relate. And if you can’t, well, as I’m fond of saying, I wish I were you.

Moving on. You drive carefully to the venue. You sit; you get settled in. Boss makes pointedly sure that you see the envelope on the table with YOUR name on it. Which you carefully tuck away for safety. And while the food is somewhat mediocre, the company is lively.

Then, to your IMMENSE surprise, you start relaxing and having what appears to be a good time. At a holiday party?

INCONCEIVABLE!

But true. In fact, even though Boss has been flying up EVERYONE’S ass lately, you’re complimented on your performance. Quite lavishly at that! And even though Boss shuts the place down and it’s hours past your bedtime, you think, hey, that wasn’t so bad, while driving carefully home on rain-slick roads.

Let’s get home safe, now.

The Highlight Of My Season – A Holiday Villain Is Born

Sagging with relief, you prepare your home and yourself for the night. But wait! Where’s that envelope you so carefully tucked away to be opened in the privacy of your home? There it is. With what a BIG DEAL your boss made out of making sure you noticed it, you think, surely there must be something good in here, right? And against your will, you get your hopes up. You open the envelope with bated breath…

Only to find a pre-printed, one-sided generic holiday card from Boss.

And nothing else.

Not even a personal note thanking you for all your hard work.

Your phone pings. What’s that? You just got your paycheck deposit alert? You look – but unlike last year, there’s no bonus there, either.

And you are crushed in your spirit.

And you think to yourself, THIS WAS WHAT BOSS MADE A BIG DEAL OVER? A generic unsigned holiday CARD? That Boss was EVIDENTLY TOO CHEAP TO PUT A STAMP ON and MAIL? Then, you put two and two together, and you realize that, of course! How did you not see it before?

A “holiday dinner” for Boss’s team IS A TAX WRITE OFF, and a hefty one at that! It has nothing to do with appreciation, but EVERYTHING to do with cold, hard cash that you’ll never see. Still, you’ll smile and tell Boss that, SURE, you and Spouse enjoyed the party (because what else are you going to say) but you’re seething inside.

And Now My Villain Origin Story Is Complete

I mean, look, if it ain’t no money, at least have the stones to TELL YOUR EMPLOYEES so they don’t get their hopes up at literally the most stressful time of the year. You’ll be far more respected then making like you’re giving a bonus but instead it’s the equivalent of a Jelly of the Month membership. You know what, it’s worse! Trust me when I say nobody gives a shit about your fakakta pre-printed holiday card with YOUR picture on it unless it’s some cash or a gift card in that envelope WITH IT. My brother in Christ, we already all know what you look like. And to make such a big deal about your sad little card like you’re really doing something?

Gus and Shawn from Psych admonishing you to "c'mon, son" after witnessing some fuckery.

Now I suppose I should just shut my ass and be grateful for the Holiday Dinner at Fancy Restaurant that I didn’t want to go to in the first place, right? Well, I’m grateful for the experience and I’m glad I at least had some fun but the risk wasn’t worth the reward. AND I’m super-duper disappointed in bosses that do stuff like this. Jesus Christ, even $25 in cash or a virtual slap in the face would have been preferable to an empty, cold card. NOT even a SIGNATURE. But I digress.

Besides, that dinner gave me the poops, so thanks a lot.

Scene from Bridesmaids where Melissa McCarthy is screaming IT'S COMING OUT OF ME LIKE LAVA while seated on the bridal-shop bathroom sink.

Some Other Thoughts I Had While Writing My Villain Origin Story Today – Hello, Forbes?

I wish I could understand what drives corporate greed and employers to continually undercut their best performers with empty promises and “team building” exercises that only build resentment. ESPECIALLY at the holidays. I mean, after all, without employees, YA GOT NO BUSINESS! WE the WORKERS are what make employers money. Profits over people, I guess. But if we’re using buzz phrases, may I also say “quiet quitting” and “acting your wage”. Anyhoo, I ranted about all this on Twitter and one of my friends said,

I’m the generation groomed to think this was a perk. To always watch what we did for our company because they’d look out for you in the end. Team players & all that. Meanwhile, raises went to 2% (if u were lucky), pensions went away, banks stopped paying reasonable interest.

The younger generations have no illusions, and I cannot tell you how much I admire you and know in my heart: you are a force to be reckoned with & it won’t be long before corporate greed is put in its place. EXCELLENT [thread emoji].

@nibberdoo aka Rabbit2Rabbit on Twitter
Cute doggo saying Thank You
Really.

Thank you very much, my friend. I was groomed by Corporate America to think the same way. And look where it got me. Burnt out at fifty and barely making ends meet. That’s what I got for my loyalty. But nobody wants to work?

Popular "Sure Jan" meme with Marcia from The Brady Bunch disdainfully saying "Sure, Jan."

Get it STRAIGHT – NOBODY wants to be exploited. We’re tired of that shit.

It’s an especially bitter pill to swallow when you realize loyalty toward employees AT YOUR OWN COMPANY is as dead as Keith Richards should be. That hurts. You know what I mean? That hurts a lot. And it hurts about a hundred times worse at Christmas when said employees are barely keeping their heads above water and are hoping for any kind of financial miracle. So to put the screws to your employees by giving them false hope ESPECIALLY at Christmas, simply put, makes YOU the asshole, my friend. Your employees aren’t stupid. They know how things work. And they’re not real happy with you right now.

To Conclude Today’s Rant With A Word From The Joker Herself

To sum up, EMPLOYEES ARE OVER BEING SCREWED BY CORPORATE GREED AND FALSE PROMISES. It does awful things to our psyche when loyalty is broken! And we’re tired of having to suck it up and just live with it! We shouldn’t have to! So if you feel guilty after reading this, Boss? Good! I hope you do! I hope this blog is a BIG OL’ wakeup call to treat your employees better because we’re not as replaceable as you seem to think we are.

But to smile in our faces while you’re stabbing us in the back with false hopes of more money, and false promises to YOUR higher ups of what your team can accomplish? Is NOT it. PERIOD. This is NOT the way. So think on these things, would ya? And let’s do better, huh? Try to maybe consider someone other than yourself.

Gif of an unmadeup Joaquin Phoenix from The Joker movie (2019) smiling a wry smile. Probably thinking about his own villain origin story.
“It’s so hard to just try and be happy all the time.”

I know, Arthur. Believe me, I do.

I promise you, I get it. And I know I’m not the only one who does.

May 2024 be a better year for ALL of us,
Meredith Silverman

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