True Story: The Worst Hangover of my Life

31 Oct

 “Fuuuuuuuuuck. I’m dying.” That’s what I think to myself when I wake up after a megarage.

Of course, I know I’m not dying. And 9 times out of 10, it’s not even that bad, so I have to remind myself that it could be far worse. Once, however, it couldn’t have been. One morning, in the winter of my senior year in college, I had the worst hangover of my life.

Being a southern gentleman, I was never used to seeing snow. And when I did, I was not happy about it. Snow makes me the worst version of me.

One particularly snowy week when classes were cancelled, my friends and I did what any right-minded college seniors would do. We got plastered. I’m talking about tequila drunk. So when I woke up on someone’s couch, in the middle of a snow-covered neighborhood, with a cat wandering around (I don’t like cats) and a reminder on my phone that I had to be at work in an hour, I was not happy.

I sped home across the ice and changed into my uniform and headed to work. At the time, I was working in print production, and although we had primarily corporate clients, we still had to deal with the people who walked in and needed a project done.

When I got there, though, the computer system wouldn’t let me clock in. So I wandered around to find a manager, at which time I was told I wasn’t scheduled for that day, but someone had called in, so I needed to stay. Dammit.

I got to work, and it wasn’t long before one of the crazies came in. There were a handful of regular people who came in with small print projects who absolutely should’ve been in assisted living. One in particular was a woman who always arrived by bus, always had a book that she wanted copies of, was always told we couldn’t do it for her because of our copyright policies and always threw a massive fit.

She was in fine form that day. She came in wearing a mismatched sweat suit covered in unrecognizable stains, carrying a grocery sack full of Jordan almonds. She smelled like dumpster juice, and kept working her mouth so that spit started to ooze out the edges. Not a pretty sight.

After explaining our copyright policy to her again and sensing the impending tantrum, I decided to let it slide and just make sure managers stayed away from the front desk while this went down.

While she waited, she continued chomping on her candy, spraying shards of almond and spit across the counter top. The smell of her rancid breath mixed with the almonds was overbearing, and it traveled with me to every corner of the workroom.

During college, I was proud of the fact that I rarely blew chunks during or after drinking. This morning in particular, however, I was feeling pretty woozy. So running around a print shop managing all these machines and breathing in paper dust and glue fumes and toner really wasn’t the best situation for me that day.

I brought her materials back to her so she could review and reject them like she always did, and sat down. At this point, I gagged. The smell hit me like a baseball bat to the throat. While she bitched about the print quality and everything else she could find, she continued chomping down on her almonds and I continued fighting down a bubbling pool of tequila vomit and salt.

She pulled out another almond and bit down on it, then paused to stare at me. Blood started trickling out of her mouth. I’m not afraid of blood, but I know a bio hazard when I see one, and if her clothing wasn’t enough to constitute one, her fluids surely were.

I asked if she was okay and pointed toward the bathroom for her to go clean herself up. She didn’t get up. Instead, she pulled a blood-covered tooth out of her mouth and threw it onto the counter. Instead of skidding to a halt, the tooth bounced off the surface and landed on my shirt.

I immediately stood up, sprinted to the back of the workroom and puked everything in my entire body into a barrel trashcan while she screamed about how she wasn’t being helped.

As I voided my stomach of its contents, a manager wandered into the back of the workroom where I was ralphing. On sight of my state, he was well aware of why our customer wasn’t being helped, but he was also aware of the distinct smell of tequila perfuming the workspace.

After being written up and working the remainder of my shift, which ended with me cleaning the entire workroom and never finding the tooth (Where the hell did it go?!), I retired to my apartment. As I reflected on my day in the shower, a bit of wisdom dawned on me.

All hangovers are created equal. They suck. They hurt. You want to die. But it’s really the events that happen during them that form their hierarchy. If you wake up to someone making you breakfast and some aspirin, I would say that’s a pretty good hangover. If you have to work an unscheduled shift and get assaulted by a toothless crazy, I would say you’re on the lower end of the spectrum.

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