(Note: the following is an excerpt from my debut novel, Canswer. It is a work of fiction and based on no one of any note. It is a comedy about death and how society deals with it. It is available as an ebook from Amazon.)
9:37am on a day like any other. Coffee breath and mislaid dreams. Working among the sad and the angry and the desperately lonely, like I’m the Dian Fossey of the pathetic salaried slave universe placed here on some kind of research project.
My own personal nine-to-five experience is filled with petty bickering and the audible sighs of those that have long since thrown in the towel on their own lives and remain employed here only as a stopgap from the deep yawning chasm that is their impending death.
I work for a company that doesn’t produce anything tangible that can be sold. To be honest, I don’t know what this company does, nor why it exists.
Globex Industries. Even the name seems fabricated, like a front for some mafioso kingpin to keep the fuzz at bay, or some comic universe villains secret lair that can only be navigated via seabed off the coast of the Mediterranean.
I am unaware and decidedly indifferent as to what my role in the company actually is. The role has a name, as well as a shiny nameplate on my desk and something in bold black on stark white card on a business card somewhere. A thousand printed: nine hundred and ninety eight of which gather dust in the dark recesses of my desk drawer. I forget what became of the other two. I think I threw one at my cat once.
Officially, my job title is Research Analyst. Or maybe it’s Analytic Researcher. Regardless, it would appear that my primary functions at Globex Industries are to push paper around my desk and pretend to look simultaneously overworked and undervalued. I sigh a lot, which helps in this regard while also making me feel more connected to my fellow defeated employees. Misery enjoys company, that old chestnut.
I’m equal parts confused and bored by the whole thing. I seemingly add nothing of value to the company yet I continue to get paid on a fortnightly basis. I’ve learned to not question this.
To the world, I am a success. I must be. I have a desk with a shiny computer on it. I have a nameplate that informs you of my moniker and my title within the company. I have a coffee mug with my name and the company logo on it. I wear a crisp shirt and patterned tie every day. My skin is a successful and non-threatening shade of white. Clearly, I matter and you listen to my opinions because of these aforementioned details.
This is not success to me. Being a piece of machinery is not success. No. Success, as far as I’m concerned, is breaking free of the air-conditioned nightmare and never looking back.
The office is located within walking distance of the airport, so from time to time I will leave my post and wander over to the terminal with my soggy cucumber sandwiches during my half hour lunch break. More often than not, I can be found in the departures lounge.
There is something equally fascinating and heartbreaking about watching total strangers say goodbye to each other. I can always tell when it’s a long goodbye as well. Those are easy to spot when you’re sensitive to the signs. These days I don’t even need to be within earshot to accurately gauge the situation. The hugs are more drawn out and often accompanied by tears, the tight clasping of hands. There is a general and palpable sense of difficulty in letting go from both parties.
And then just like that, the passenger is gone, off to some faraway destination in search of adventure. In search of themselves.
Free from the smothering embrace of a loved one, the passenger is whisked through a security gate and free from whatever inspired them to escape in the first place, jittery hearts exploding with hope as they set forth on their personal journey into the delicious unknown.
At times like these, it’s the people that have been left behind that I really feel for. They console each other, walking away arm in arm with puffy eyes and slumped shoulders as they embark on their own personal facsimile of mourning.
On days like these you will find me chewing my sandwich, watching it all unfold before me with a childlike sense of wonder.