CHARLOTTE, NC—Dawning horror tinged with self-loathing crept slowly over the face of claims adjuster Robert Pettlebaum, 42, as he described his job and by extension his life to others during a seemingly innocuous Tuesday lunch meeting. "Mostly what I do is I seek out discrepancies in the property appraisal versus the claimant's estimate of worth and then I…then I defer outpays…with…oh, God…," Pettlebaum said as shadows of unspeakable self-realization flickered across his increasingly desperate eyes. "Wait, no, that can't be right. I don't…do I?" Pettlebaum's mounting terror was met with incomprehension and nervous laughter from his companions, who sources indicated have anywhere between three weeks and 27 years before realizing their own existences are as desolate and barren as his.
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