Thursday, July 10, 2008

Time Card Blues

Everywhere you turn it's golf shirts and stainless steel wrapped coffee mugs with rubber studs that assure a strong easy grip in the office place. It's like we need a performance coffee mug that won't fly out of our hands as we round corners heading to the conference room or try to load paper into the printer with one hand while sipping our favorite hot beverage.

The carpet is so thin it looks like it was applied as a liquid and allowed to dry in the air-conditioning. You can sometimes hear footsteps through it. I was here early, so I can hear the rolling laptop bags go by behind me as management members find their cubicles. They're on their phones talking about calls they need to make. If I close my eyes, I feel like I'm at the airport. All that's missing is the smell of Cinnabon and a voice from above telling me not to leave my baggage unattended.

The fluorescent bulbs over my desk are significantly brighter than the ones humming away in the other fixtures. I'm looking forward to more people showing up to work so their background noise will mask the sound of that humming. It makes me think of how I always said that people who live under electrical wires were crazy, and I pretend I can hear the electricity sizzle and crack above me.

People arrive and say the most interesting things:

"You see, if we had a screen door, we could leave the other door open and then maybe get a breeze."

"We leave the porch light off, because if we don't you can see the bugs congregating. They seem to like the light."

"I'm getting ready to punch my kids like a man."

"They'll never be able to sell that place. It stinks so bad of fish and curry."

"Nasanex always works for me. I always feel better afterwards."

And just like that, I'm missing the hum of the lights above me again. I want to kneel in the corner and pick at the edge of the carpet there until I can peel it from the floor and wrap it around me like a blanket. Huddled like a flood-victim in carpet flecked with staples and shoe dirt, I'll crawl under my desk and ride out the storm of another Thursday. At five, I'll crawl out blinking in the unnaturally bright fluorescence and get in the line that leads outside.

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