Forms, Desks and Disdain


Forms, Desks and Disdain


Connor McDonough-Flynn

            Listening to Thelonious Monk between my four – rented – magnolia walls. Taking it easy before heading to a comedy club. Same jazz: having a can, smoking and writing – a “loser” at his own devices.

Had a busy day; was all over the shop. Went to the HSE office on Matron Street. The task: get a form stamped and signed for an eye exam. My medical carded broke ass had lost a contact lens. I’d become a half blind monetary midget.

Found the HSE office after walking up and right and all around. Wandering down side streets. Roaming through archways. Squinting to make out street signs.

Called into City Hall hoping it was the spot… it wasn’t. The security guard kindly directed me in the right direction. After walking into the camouflaged glass door I managed to exit the building.

Back on the street, a blindfolded bull, cautiously stampeding on a foreign terrain. Departmentalizing. Eventually locating the office. Door opened. Task initiated. Upon arrival a man sitting at the helm of his desk greeted me. Steadfast. His Magnum P.I. mustache groomed to perfection.

“Is this the HSE office?” I asked.

Yes” he said.

“Nice one. How’s the day going for ya?”


I reached into my bag to get the form, explaining to him what my visit was regarding in proper, sound out, Galway vernacular. Hoping a bit of charm might ease the complexities of the lumbering form filling process. Perceived ignorance is a great weapon when you know your adversaries’ programmed ‘Culchie’ judgments.

“How ya, I’m calling in to get this form sorted for an eye exam…” I said as I handed over the form. The man’s skewering metallic eyes were fixed on me, and with a half glance I could see the hairs on his arm spike. “You need to Fill It Out” he said and handed the form back to me, sneering. I was in a smiley mood and laughed my mistake off. The desk man didn’t. Feeling his victorious glare, I walked away, seated myself and began filling out the form.

An older couple sat… waiting, with a baby. Was a cute little fecker. The Mother…? Grandmother…? Kidnapper…? The Lady accompanying the baby was tickling the infant’s ear and the little rascal loved it. Grandparents. Must be…

What I believed to be the husband and supposed grandfather sat next to me, positioned directly to my right, his legs crossed tightly in a disdain-riddled manner. Disdain guy, exhausted by his frustration, a frustration I imagined he took in pill form – enabling his animosity and agitation to pulsate; a labyrinth of loathing.

Demurely adhering across from me were the trammed newborn and his maternal minder. Due northeast. Innocently tempered. Through the window life’s solar beacon exhaling rays of hope. Adorning the windowsill sat an empty coffee cup, perched. Unstirred. Curdling. Overlooking all the day’s events. United with the sun, a shadowy-looming UFO hovered on the checkered floor.

A vindictive ascendancy asphyxiates offices such as the HSE. A gloomy, hung-over tobacco plant: sickly and cackling – clandestine wheels churning away. People’s pains pouring out; cramps aching whilst tackling their duties. Knowing beforehand that dispute and agitation would encompass the visit. There’s no joy in people’s encounters any more, an art form deemed unnecessary. Replaced by anger. Depression. People are fed up! Looking at one another going ‘What the f$%k…! Did you do this…?’

The blame can be passed. Convolution. Misinformation… Lacking… The soul and will in people being tested around every corner. Struggling away, people walk on. Looking at tomorrow as a grace… less challenge… serenity!

The reclined docile tot stared at me, fingers planted in his mouth, drool flowing downwards – I felt obliged to make funny faces – the virtuous scamp was laughing away. I made sure not to go too far. Didn’t want gramps to get the wrong idea. Can’t make babies laugh for too long these days. They get attached. Entertainment becomes expected, then commitment once comforts been established. Jester position filled. And when the entertainment stops, sad faces ensue. Tears. Crying. The same goes for adults. In today’s ‘what can you do for me’ society, amusement must be around every corner, every moment, every second; stimulation, clicks, texts and downloads. An impersonal conundrum, a media frenzy; where wasting time is the only deadly sin.

The husband was muttering to himself when he lurched up and went over to Desk Man’s lair and growled at him to make a phone call on his behalf. The Medical Card that Disdain Guy desired to use was, in fact; expired. Had been so for over a year. Conspiring forces once again, governing, against him.

Disdain Guy wanted ‘Answers!’ and Desk Man was the elected facilitator, the Man for the job. His duty: sort out the expired medical card. Allowing business to continue as planned. Disdain Guy’s plan ‘must be completed’. The expiration of Disdain Guy’s card was obviously not his fault. His own lack of motivation to do what he needed to do made him right. Case closed. Shame trumps innocence.

I finished filling out the form and walked up to the desk humming “It Ain’t Me Babe”. Oh, no, no… Desk Man was still on the phone. Fighting courageously for his perplexed compatriot. I waited. Eased. Relaxed. Staring out the window, watching people go by. Shoulders calm. Rhythmically breathing. Perusing the pamphlets on the pamphlet table.

The pamphlet people smiling away, proper lighting, smartly dressed, would be class to be a leaflet model. All they have to do is smile and hold papers. Wear a little make up; piece of piss… Look at the camera… Silly mannequin… I bet they never miss a meal. Make a good wage, enough for a few pints any way. I’d be a kick ass pamphlet model! I can hold papers, minus the make up. I’d say I’d survive a week before I paper cut myself to death with the ‘You Can Do It’ flyer. I can do it all right! I can also propel myself off this brightly lit building of banality, smart clothes and all…

A lady behind the fortress was wearing a red dress, an ominous, large figure facing the wall – behind Desk Man. She had short black hair and glasses; passively sitting, whilst secretarially shuffling papers around her morose imprisoned desk. The sun was shining, yet no light in her corner. No sunlight; only a tiny, faint, radiating desk lamp; her arms wobbling with weariness.

Desk Man got all the rays, the shining knight. Proudly greeting people with a look of abomination. The swagger of a guy that would have his daughter’s 16th birthday party at his house for the sole purpose of ogling her friends. Completely engulfed, lost in his own hatred. An internal battle waging inside; a regimented, ceaseless strife to keep afloat in the havoc-laden waters:

They don’t know how F€#%ING important I Am! I’m going to prove to EVERYONE who comes into ‘MY OFFICE’ with their F€#%ING forms, just how important! I! AM!

He’s The Savior. DESK MAN! Wielding a pen and a stamp. Minimal typing abilities… He’s the man! Desk Man! His trusty sidekick: Weary Wilma with floral patterns garnishing her red dress. Sparkling in the eye of the dim dark light.

Disdain Guy was eventually handed the phone, the set up complete. Hook, lout and sucker. Geniuses in their own right.

Seeing my opportunity I approached the desk and handed over my form. “How’s the day going for ya?” I asked again. Silence… no response. No hint of one either. He looked at my form as if I’d just handed him the 10-commandments. Reminding him of the time he tried to covet thy neighbor’s wife. Only to be rejected and shunned. Stricken with communal embarrassment. His listless lust constantly awakening memories of rejections past, as they incessantly washed over his feeble psyche, like a self-destructive horror film that he’d directed for too long. The torment inside continued to knock on the doors that he’d not ever been able to open. He’d not lived the life he’d foreseen for himself, and his eyes spoke of the pains that his despondent shoulders highlighted.

Perhaps these insights were a bit harsh I’d thought to myself. He could’ve just been having a bad day, but there was no wave of knowledge at the time. All attempts to strike up a conversation had been thwarted by an ego that had succumbed to its stamped importance. Genuine interaction had become futile. Civility lost amongst the chaos of the round and round.

Desk Man looked at the form, gently placed it on his desk, and flopped both hands down on the piece of paper, palms down; smirking: “I Will… DO this in a FEW minutes OK…” “Sound out, no bother” I said. Making sure to leave no hint of agitation or annoyance. Disdain Guy was already flooding the atmosphere.

Desk Man got up, smirk intact, and walked around the corner. There he stood, looking at the wall. I could see him the whole time. Due north, straight ahead, back turned, his graying hair bristling against the collar of his purple polo shirt. Just a man; standing in a corner, staring at a wall.

After about five minutes he turned around and walked back. He sat down on his throne. Looked at the form, lying naked on his desk of nothingness. DESK MAN! Stamped the form and signed the form; which hadn’t moved. It happened so fast I almost missed it. Ants take longer shits. Disdain Guy was still howling away.

Desk Man handed the form back to me, the “Date:” space left barren. Blank. He couldn’t be bothered, was too much. The emptiness made a rebuttal pointless. The thought didn’t trouble my mind at all. A vacant point had been made.

Looking at him dead in the eye I said: “thanks very much, have a great day for yourself, all the best, g’luck.” … “Yeah…” he said. With my thumb in the air, I walked towards the exit. The door was illuminated. I opened it and left. Freedom. Fresh air. I took a deep breath. Rolled a cigarette and set it ablaze. Disdain Guy and Desk Man were alone again, reunited in their misery.

I went to the eye appointment brandishing the certified HSE form to the optician after the exam. Rejection followed. Even after he went out and asked somebody… a noble gesture no doubt. The authorized sheet of paper didn’t cover contacts. Desk Man’s form was cursed. All that stamping and signing for nothing! I’d wasted his Time… Moments of his life taken, stripped away, all because of me, the hard-fisted blockhead wrecking everyone’s buzz. The world can be so callous. No wonder bitterness reigns. Dark patronizing figures ingesting people’s desires. Spewing out crippling realities. Agonizing defeat after defeat after…

€20 exchanged hands in Laser form. After a few apprehensive moments the gadget finally chewed and the money machine was fed. The new wave, computerized, technological, numbers game played and paid. The form still in my bag, verified with two sets of stamps and all.

Payment was my punishment. An eye exam – A CONTACT EXAM to be precise…! DOESN’T COVER CONTACTS!!! I wouldn’t have F€#%ING gone if I knew I’d have to pay! These days’ senses are an unnecessary expenditure…! Can’t afford sight! Health services are only meant for life and death scenarios! Expecting anything more is ‘Irrational LIBERAL Whinging’…! That’s why I got ‘The Form’! Don’t THEY realize that I have NO F€#%ING MONEY…!

I left a befuddled, visionless vagabond; another appointment ensuing, a new FORM in hand.

Wore my glasses on the walk back to the apartment, frantically fearful, head on a swivel – insults expected around every corner, an owl ‘whoing’ in the headlights. “Four Eyes” was back on the streets. It’d been over 12 years since I’d worn my spectacles in public.

“Owl in glasses” image by:

About ConMcFlynn

Connor McDonough-Flynn first began performing in Los Angeles in 2007. He then moved back to Ireland after a few year hiatus he continued on his journey as a stand up comedian in January 2011. He’s performed in England, Amsterdam, Spain, and all over Ireland. He’s supported such acts as Maeve Higgins and John Colleary.

Connor ran and organized the “Get up, Stand Up @ Garvey’s” comedy night in Garvey’s Bar, Galway. He ran and organized the “Unhinged Comedy Club” in The Cellar Bar. He was at the heart of the comedy scene in Galway. Now, he’s living in Dublin…

His comedy is brainy, bold and (un)balanced – he’s an arguably debatable spectator tempter. Connor will have you laughing away as he deals with the debaucherous topics that present themselves daily. The stimulating humdrum thoughts that arouse bemusement. And the oddball anecdotes that evoke smiles, from the lips, on your face. There’s a means to his madcap manoeuvres. More on Connor's Bio: here

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