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PHOENIX, Ariz. — 28-year-old insurance claims adjuster Richard Strauss has lost the ability to make eye contact with his peers, after spending a year in quarantined isolation getting “clouded as fuck” every day.

“I remember the first moment he locked eyes with another person after finally coming outside on a walk with me,” said Strauss’s girlfriend Jennifer Paisely, the only person Strauss shared eye contact with regularly over the last year. “He immediately hit his vape pen to create a fat cloud in an attempt to disappear. Needless to say, he seemed surprised when he just got a blank stare from the dude.”

“No amount of eye drops could prepare him to look strangers in the eye again,” agreed roommate Meghan Werthers, who herself first made eye contact with Strauss again three weeks ago during an argument about buying groceries. “Isolation made him great at staring at people on the TV screen, but real life is just another story.”

Strauss recognizes that this may be a problem if it continues long-term, but for now, he’s hoping to take it one face at a time.

“I avoided strangers for over a year by ordering everything online and always choosing contactless delivery, and frankly, I think it’s a better way of life for all of us,” explained Strauss, looking slightly off in the distance. “It’s just a habit now to look at literally anything else in the room rather than the person I’m talking to. It’s not so bad if there’s a cat around, but if the only non-human living thing in the room is a plant, it makes me seem real awkward.”

“I know I have to fix it, but I just don’t know where to look when someone talks to me anymore,” he confided. “Can I look at their shoes? Their hair? Right now, I’d rather stare at the sun than look someone in the eye if I can help it.”

Sadly, Strauss’s struggles are affecting his professional life as well.

“We were excited to get Richard back in the office, as he’s beloved by most of us on the team… but the eye contact thing is really weirding everyone out,” said Strauss’s boss Allen Wilenski. “I just figured he didn’t know where his webcam was when he’d be looking away on all of those Zoom calls over the last year, or that he was working outside when he was wearing those sunglasses. But he seems to have a serious problem — it feels like he’s lying every time I ask him for his TPS reports, and whenever he talks to me it’s like he’s looking for literally anyone else around to talk to instead.” 

“I mean, I get it. We’ve all had nothing to do but blaze over the past year,” added Wilenski, “but deadlines are coming up, and he’s got to get it together.”

Records show that, due to his disorder, Strauss has already rescheduled his eye doctor appointment twice in the last month.

Christopher Jones is a writer for Oregano, The Hard Times, and a variety of international brands. When he’s not writing he can be found working in video production and currently resides in a lovely New England town that is much nicer than where he grew up in Missouri. Find him on Insta @Chris_Jones_Creates

Disclaimer: This Article Is a Joke

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