Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Herman Dagwood#3: Employee of the Month

Posted on | May 30, 2010 | 1 Comment

Employee Of The Month 300x200 Herman Dagwood#3: Employee of the Month

Photography by Patrick Campbell

There is literally shit on his face.

It takes a millisecond for this to register, and during that millisecond, Garth Brooks sings to him about his friends in low places. Herman wonders what has just happened and why everyone is laughing.

The millisecond passes, the smell hits his nose, and he pukes his guts out Stand By Me style.  Mr. Brooks continues, telling him that he’s not too “big on social graces…” as the ground is soaked in bile.

Herman Dagwood is 17 and working the worst job of his life.

At five in the morning giant duffel bags of clothes from hospitals, hotels, and old folks homes are emptied onto a conveyor belt.  It is his job to sort through the filth covered items. Skinny-as-fuck, 6’5, and barely bearded, Herman goes to work on a truckload of coffee and James Brown to wake him from his stupor.  He’s wearing hospital smocks that will soon be covered in filth.  His hands are covered in gardening gloves that will wear through in less than a week.  His mouth is uncovered, ready to take in a hundred different forms of infectious wastes.

The items arrive covered in piss, puke, blood, and cum.  The red bags contain hazardous wastes. You were lucky if they were bloody, because then you’d at least know not to touch them.  Sometimes they had scabies, lies, or some other biological nightmares without anything as alarming as blood to tip you off.  You weren’t supposed to open those.  No one told him any of this during his first month working there.

And today, as Garth Brooks tells him that he isn’t big on social graces, he wipes shit off his face to the laughter of his country music loving coworkers.

His coworkers thought it would be funny to remind the new employee of his station in life.  Piles of entangled things were placed on the conveyor belt, moving quickly.  Herman had to separate these items and get them into the bins on the opposite side, and do it fast.  As such, there was no time for careful examination, which is how he didn’t notice the smell coming from the twisted towel.

The towel, twisted just so, became shit bombs, guaranteed to explode and cover the face of anyone stupid enough to unwrap it.

Some didn’t make into the laundry before running away from the blasted country music and peculiar smell.  He refused to be one of those people.  Herman will work there for six months. This is his first job beyond mowing lawns and having a paper route.  It is beginning to register to him that this is what people do at work. He makes less than ten dollars an hour and cleaning shit off of his face is simply part of the job. Strangely enough this is a sign that he is on the path to becoming a man.

Determined to change his life, Herman has taken this job and enrolled back in high school.  This is the year when he switched from dropping out every March Break for three years in a row to earning a 98% average and becoming Valedictorian of his graduating class.

But let’s begin in the woods that he would name his first rap album after.   For the first 11 years of his life, Herman lived in Fernleigh Park.  Inside the lush forests he was king of all that he surveyed.  He spent most of his time with his brother making birch bark canoes and racing them downstream, constructing dams and playing tiny survivalist.

At 11, his family moved to Clayton Park, a suburb in Halifax.  For Junior High, he went to French immersion at Fairview which made him an outsider to the neighbourhood kids going to Halifax West, and as a result, the lanky teenager got into a good number of fights with the Rockingham Bad Ass Posse (RBAP).  Yes, this was actually the name of the group of kids who wanted to smash in the face of our young hero.

While many fought for the honour of beating the shit out of this creepily tall just turned teenager, there was one special fat ass who picked on Herman on the daily.  Every day after school, waiting for the bus he would get into a fight with a boy named James.  Herman came home with a swollen black eye at least once a week.  This began when Herman laughed at an overheard joke James had told and “the fat bastard turned around and told me that he hadn’t said I could laugh.”  Young Herman thought in a prison mentality, that he would either be the bitch or he’d have to take out the biggest motherfucker in the room.  Not wanting to spend junior high as the bitch he made the logical decision. He smashed the motherfucker in the face.

After three years, this legendary battle ended when Herman’s father randomly came to pick his son up at school.  This was an intense but not particularly strange day for the boys and their rivalry.

James had torn a 7 foot branch off a tree, and Herman was sprinting and jumping out of the way.  James seemed very determined to end the fight once and for all.  James swung the tree at him; Herman ducked and avoided having his head smashed in.  His father reacted quickly.

Moments after his father pulled into the bus stop, James was on the hood of his car.  He whispered something into the little boy’s ear and James’s face went pale.  To this day, Herman still has no idea what his father said that day.

At home, dealing with his wounds Herman received counsel from his father.  He told him that if the boy made fun of Herman for having his father fight his battles, his Dad advised Herman to punch him hard in the face and end it once and for all.

James, despite his affinity for swinging tree branches, was very predictable.  In the hallway he mocked Herman for being a daddy’s boy and needing Daddy to save him.   Herman ended it once and for all with a punch to the nose.

After that, the pudgy bastard stopped bothering Herman, which meant he had to spend his days fighting other boys.

Herman decided from that moment on, he was a bad ass.  He became obsessed with Public Enemy and Spice 1 and rarely left the house without donning newly acquired fashions gleaned from the pages of The Source, watered down through the Stitches in the mall.  Having nothing to do meant that he got into a lot of shit with his friends. Being Suburban kids in Clayton Park meant he rarely had much to do.  As such, a lot of shit got broken and a lot of explosives were set off.

Herman and his friends would sneak out in the middle of the night, drink mixed alcohol (rum, gin, all mixed together with whatever they could find that could fit in a yogurt cup) and cause a ruckus.  Experimenting with fire and small explosives, the earliest stage of the internet came in handy for their adventures.  Empty basketball courts became target ranges where Molotov cocktails were tested.  Dressed all in black, the boys would sneak into the woods with slingshots and shoot out porch lights and terrorize their neighbours.  Sipping on booze and egging houses were their favorite pastimes.  Next up were Airbombs, fire crackers were launched into open windows. and the boys laughed as havoc ensued.

In school Herman was floundering.  Constantly being told by teachers that he wasn’t living up to his potential, he began to give up on himself. In Grade 7 he received his first failing mark in creative writing.  From grade 7 through to 9 he barely passed his classes and spent a lot of time in summer school.

On the first day of high school he wore a fire engine red hoodie with Graffitti shit, cross colors, Carhartt pants, and Timberland boots.  Finding himself at St. Pats with kids from Halifax’s rich South-End as well as poor kids from public housing, and Halifax’s north end he thought this social diversity might lead to acceptance .  Unfortunately they still thought he looked fucking retarded in his hip hop attire.

His teachers seemed to think Herman’s intellectual abilities and fashion sense were on a similar level.  Discouraged by teachers, he became quite convinced that he was an idiot.

One year, he missed 22 days in September.  Beverly Hills Cop quickly became his bible.  It was around this point that he became interested in the samples he found in  songs and began his odd journey into the hippy galaxy where acid aided time travel, and Powderman was buried in the floorboards of his friend’s apartment.  Fuelled by Ritalin, acid, and whatever booze he could find, school became a rarity and Herman moved towards a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

And then he met “Charles”.

During his five-month tenure laundering cum and bloodstained hospital sheets he divided his time between making music with acid heads and driving around with drug dealers. It was also during this same time period he would return to school, get 98% on his report card, and become valedictorian.

Thus continues the saga of Herman Dagwood.

Welcome to the Colony of Losers, a world of quarter life crises, anxiety, depression and the friends and the failures on the way to your future. This is the story of Michael Kimber’s panicked fall into adulthood.

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One Response to “Herman Dagwood#3: Employee of the Month”

  1. carew
    May 31st, 2010 @ 1:01 am

    Herman is the man.

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    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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