By Bob McNeil
You get used to the sun laughing at your inability to rise. Your clock is jocular as well, chortling between bells at you. Each annoying tintinnabular sound is there to rouse you. All of the clock’s attempts are to no avail. Coffin-lid-rigid, you continue lying on your bed. Unconcerned with the alarm, you await the ferry back to unconsciousness.
Later, after getting up and cleansing your mouth, you have what your brain and body deem as essential—caffeine. No matter the number of attempts at memorization, you cannot recall the day that coffee became as important as air, food, water and shelter. Once every drop gets pumped into your gullet, you feel the way a car does upon getting premium gasoline.
Everything is rote for you. Diurnally, you are accustomed to showering at a certain hour and then preening. Furthermore, by standing naked in front of the bathroom mirror, you always scrutinize your body.
You dress. Frequently, you look at the labels on your clothes. Not one garment is anonymous or generic. No, each garment has a designation worthy of a phonebook. Outside of the fact that public nudity is an offence in most areas, you do not understand why designers decide what apparel is appropriate.
Fully clad, you commute. Does it matter if you are shuttling on shoes, a bike, an automobile, or a train? Any travel mode will do as long as it moves at a speed on par with either a cheetah, Usain Bolt, the Kawasaki Ninja H2, the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, and the CRH380A or something faster. Quickly, you must reach a destination that your heart detests. Face it, a lobotomy and lodgings in a mental asylum would be better than the madness of speeding to a place you wish were on the wrong side of a wrecking ball.
Given the chance, to be sure, you would not work at all. Thus far, as it stands, until you come into The Wells Fargo of inheritances, win the lottery or rob a bank, you are stuck in the workforce. Such is the tale of an adult who has to bench press the weight of bills. My, what a weight it is. You have the planet Jupiter’s weight in debts.
You arrive. From nine a.m. to five p.m., your time will be enslaved by an employer. Soon, very soon, whatever feelings you have of independence and confidence will be incarcerated during those hours. Granted, in reality, you will get paid, but it never seems like enough for filing your individualism away.
Halfway through the entry way, you see other people waiting for the elevator. Faced with finite options, you greet them and ask how they feel. It is all perfunctory. You do not care how they feel. Quite honestly, they do not care about your feelings, either. Old indoctrination from parents and teachers transforms everyone into parrots that say, “Good morning. How are you? Have a nice day.” All you want to say is this, “Until the votes come in, I can’t tell if the morning is good or not. That should tell you how I am. And, oh, by the by, the day would be nicer if we didn’t share greetings.”
Never forget the Weather Spectators, all of whom are annoying. You tolerate their need to editorialize about each fluctuation. They complain when it is either hot or cold, as if their protestation can make some deity adjust the temperature to their specifications. Therefore, you want to say, “Just weather the damn weather. Complaining about it is the equivalent of pitching pebbles at a charging military tank—totally futile.”
Along with others, you ride the elevator. Amidst faces that fell to the floor a long time ago, you empathize with the plight of lobsters in a bucket. Somehow, while experiencing claustrophobia, you want to yell about the width of your hatred for the job. You gripe to yourself, rather than yelling about your discomfort. Not content to just stand, you notice the numbers of the floors. Irony’s long feathers tickle your armpits. Considering the misfortune of employment, it seems farcical that there is no thirteenth floor. To inspire someone’s triskaidekaphobia, you want to paint the disturbing number all over the walls.
Your floor appears. You arrive at work. Far worse than you expected, the clock says, “You’re late.” Regardless of how much you try, any attempt at sneaking to your desk is a waste of subterfuge. Your boss sees you. Save your imagined Ninja skills for sneaking to the water cooler or bathroom when not needed later today. None of the behindhand minutes make your boss any happier about you still being alive. Infantilized by your employer’s reproaching look, you walk inside.
Obviously you know what your boss looks like, but within fantasies, the employer takes on other appearances. Determined by the trek your thoughts take, the authoritative figure can be any historical dictator, a police dog or a demon right out of some scripture.
Co-workers, whom you tolerate, are staring at your being as if it should be wearing an asbestos suit. Honestly, you are about a cyberslacking second away from feeling a fire.
Contrary to your physical mass, your job makes you feel on par with a nonrefundable bottle—something seen and unwanted.
Except for their bobblehead motions of acknowledgement, no one cares that you are there. You do not speak; instead your body nods like the famous drinking bird toy. Dejected, you squat before your desk, where other annoyances congregate.
There you are doing what your imagination despises, which is work. Why even mention the type of work? A designation will not make the job any more likable.
At the very least, despite the way work seizes most of your existence, you maintain a paramount possession: yourself. Life knows you labor to become the being of your design. This is your essay, poem or story. Those people and places known for annoyance can be edited out with another job. But, you will still have the paragraphs or staves of your selfhood.
Each existence will be another autobiographical edition on a bookshelf. Your tome, although awaiting more chapters, should receive herds of blurbs because it exists. Grant yourself a good review each day, knowing you will wind up out of print at some point.