Parting of the Inertia
There’s no work in walking and it fueled the talk
I would grab my shoes and then away I’d walk
Through all the stubborn beauty I’d start at the dawn
Until the sun had fully stopped
Parting of the Sensory – Modest Mouse
I’ve been thinking. What was the exact moment I realized that this corporate job thing wasn’t going to cut it? That I couldn’t keep walking down this checkerboard-patterned laminate tile hallway to my little cube for the next thirty years? Or any hallway, be it of terrazzo, Interface carpet tiles, marble, bamboo, or reclaimed barn boards, to any cube, be it open plan or private office? That even if the people and surroundings and responsibilities changed, I was still going to dread every moment, every step, on that first approach to the card reader each morning? That I’d keep fantasizing about turning around and going back out into the gorgeous summer morning, but never have the guts to do it?
In reality, it was a gradual dawning, a building feeling, until one day it could no longer be denied.
You think I’m just being dramatic. But look at the people around you. Are they happy to be there? Doesn’t seem like it. Most of the people in positions of power are single, or are married without children. They spend a lot of time at work. Weekends even. Most of the others are single mothers, or overspending couples with multiple kids. They’re worried about money, terrified about losing their jobs. There’s bickering over projects, there’s backstabbing, there’s gossip. The florescent lights make everyone look green and grey. Your eyes get so, so bloodshot. If you’re coldblooded, you’re freezing all day. So cold your hands never warm up, even when you hold them under the faucet for a few minutes. If you’re hotblooded, you have two fans pointed at your head, running all day. You all complain about that loud person in cube five. You wonder what that quiet person in cube three does all day. You complain behind the back of that person who is on facebook and the drudge report all day, but you never say anything to their face. You spend hours in meetings staring at the conference room table, waiting for that person to just stop talking. You try to avoid the pointless small talk, anything that distracts you from finishing the task at hand and walking out the door as soon as possible.
I retreat into the world of my iPod to cope (blame my husband and his hand me down gadgets), where songs like the one quoted above further derail my mind from the money-making task at hand.
Sometimes I get cool projects to work on, other times I’m editing poor grammar into a memo at my boss’ suggestion. Daily work gets easier and easier as I find ways to do things better. I gradually get more money, more responsibility, more respect. You make money, you spend money; money in, money out. I can see it going like this, down the checkerboard tunnel, until I’m like the other people who have been here for ten, thirty, forty, even forty-five years. A countdown to retirement. And then what? You’ve just spent your life in a state of inertia.