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Dear Agony, 

 How can I fight my boss who insists on making me risk my life to boost his monthly progress report?

 Rita Mechanicsburg


Dear Ritasburg,

     We live in a troubled world.

Lately it seems more troubled—and troubling—than ever.

The news is by turns depressing, enraging, terrifying, heartbreaking, nauseating and back to depressing. Now, as you know, I pride myself on keeping my vibration lofty and my resonance both numinous and altitudinous in the direst of circumstances, but these days even I find myself occasionally trading in the creeps for the weeps. It sometimes becomes difficult to take pleasure in the conjuring of spookiness and nightmares.

In times like these we must affirm our deathless allegiance to those who make each of our private, personal worlds bearable. Survivable. Sustainable. Even pleasant, cozy. These are our allies. Our friends. Our compatriots and colleagues. For those in the privileged position of employer, the tender appreciation of our dear employees, 
those who devote their finite and irreplaceable time on this earth, their effort, their resolve, ingenuity, creativity and loyalty to us in exchange for a handful of coins, is a sacred trust.

And now you tell me that your boss forces you to risk your life to boost his monthly progress report.

This cannot stand, Ritasburg.

The thought of your boss mistreating you in this way fills me with rage. Blinding, blistering rage. My every cell is boiling with fury as deep, lightless and unforgiving as the Mariana Trench. The notion that he would place—
not his life, but his monthly progress report—above your safety fills me with disappointment in your boss; the kind of crushing disappointment which would crumple him like paper, collapsing any air-filled cavity in his body with 16,000 pounds per square inch of selfish, rotten bossiness.

I can see that squooshed, compacted boss right now, with his double breasted spring blazer–now a bit too large for his newly collapsed frame–fluttering in the deepening oceanic dim, his champagne gold double-stripe necktie sailing out behind him as he sinks, sinks, sinks for two, three, four long hours through towering, shadowy saltwater cathedrals to his final lightless, silty impact in the Challenger Deep, the deepest region of the Mariana Trench, some 11,000 meters down. Poof, his just-shined walnut brown cap toe Oxford shoes and monogrammed cotton lisle dress socks disappear into a cloud of the powdery remnants of the bones, scales and teeth of every creature of land and sea, tumbled and precipitated in endless marine snowstorms since the beginning of time.

Then he meets his new colleagues.

You know who lives on the floor of the Challenger Deep, don’t you? Prawn-like supergiant amphopods the size of golden retrievers, except with milky overlapping armored plates, no eyes and countless wheeling legs; bottom-dwelling holothurians, the nightmare-sized mammoth cousins of sea cucumbers, their digestive tracts garishly jewel-like, displayed through translucent pink flesh, their mouths searching, tube feet flailing. And don’t forget the zombie worms, feathery and scarlet like ostrich plume boas, whose scientific name,
 Osedax, is Latin for bone-eater. What kind of teeth do they have to eat bones with in the darkest, deepest place on earth? Oh, they don’t have teeth. They don’t even have mouths. Or stomachs. They secrete acid from their skin, which dissolves bone and anything else that’s handy to free up the tasty fats and proteins within. This deliciousness is then digested, not by the zombie worms themselves, but by the symbiotic bacteria which dwell within their bodies. How do the bone-eaters then access the nutrients from their bacterial helpers? Well, we don’t really know. Maybe, like your boss, they simply consume and digest the very entities which make their existence possible, without a single shred of concern, gratitude or guilt.

Anyway. I hear that you’ve recently retired, Ritasburg! Well done. Congratulations, and happy travels on your journey to the western Pacific! Tell your ex-boss I wish him a 
bon voyage!