September 3rd, 2006

manning: uberbitch

Part Two: On working (DeskJob version 1.0)

You arrive at work fifteen minutes early every day. You hope that this makes a good impression on your boss but you can't tell because your boss is usually there first. You figure it's probably expected of you anyway. Your already well-developed sense of cynicism receives a boost from this thought.

You study your boss covertly and slightly enviously. Your boss makes more money than you do. You know this is more a matter of longevity than ability and that one day you will have earned that right too. You just have to be patient.

In the meantime, there is work to be done. You overcome the initial panic that sets in when you start thinking too far ahead. Too far ahead, in this instance, means about two hours. You force yourself to focus on the first task at hand.

You don't move from your desk all morning except for the half-hour meeting, during which the boss doles out praise and abuse in whatever proportions suit the current perception of your daily progress. You listen politely, nod appropriately and make notes that will appear barely comprehensible to you within an hour of writing them. As usual, you decide against bringing up any of the carefully phrased concerns you've been nursing for months. You have too much to do, you reason, so prolonging this would be a waste of your time.

You march back to your desk with your mug in your hand. You set your mug on your corporate-sponsored coaster. You settle into your chair, hands poised over your keyboard. You begin to type.

Your tea slowly goes cold. The administrative assistant takes it away and replaces it, adding a biscuit. You mumble your thanks and eat the biscuit. You pause briefly to take prurient interest in the attractiveness of one of your co-workers. You know better than to turn fantasy into action. You don't shit where you eat.

You look up in surprise when a shadow falls over your desk. Someone is inviting you to go to lunch. You wrestle with your conscience. You should go to Prêt a Spencerburyrose for a sandwich and a piece of fruit to eat at your desk. Your stomach churns at the thought of sitting in the smoky local and eating sausage and mash or curry and chips.

You opt for the pub.

You feel ebullient and relaxed on returning to the office. You only have a few more hours to pass until you leave. Your lunchtime pint of lager makes your limbs looser, your mind freer. You work almost effortlessly through the afternoon, looking forward to your daily trip to the gym, where you thrash your muscles as hard as you can, for reasons you are unable to pinpoint. It goes beyond staying healthy, but your mind slides away from the whys every time you try to think about them.

You bounce out of the office when the clock ticks to fifteen minutes past the official closing time, calling a cheery, general goodbye over your shoulder. You turn away and your face slides into the blank, closed expression you wear in public when you are sober. You pass the same tramp you see every day who asks you if you can spare any change. You shake your head without looking at the dirty, outstretched hand, feeling guilty. You wish you had the balls to point out that no change is spare in this town. You can't. The line dividing you and him is too thin. You are desperate to stay on your side of it. You resent him for reminding you of that.

You board the train, which is both noisier and less fraught than it was this morning. At one of the stations (not yours) you see a crow on the platform, pecking at a writhing worm. You think to yourself, a worm is dying. You wonder how many people would see the same thing and think, a crow is eating a worm. You suspect more of them would. You feel this is profound. You wish you could write it down but you don't have a pen.

You've forgotten all about it by the next stop.