A so called life.
My eyes open, dreary light floods in, my brain registers the shapes and the world crawls into focus.
My mind fogged by the bottle I drank last night, I stand. The air clings to my body, encasing it, weighing it down. I move, shuffling my feet as I reacclimatise to the weight.
I start a tepid bath running, jerk arthritically down the stairs. The rooms, still shrouded in darkness, pass by. In the kitchen I paw the kettle on, drag out a mug and force a teabag into its cracked mouth.
Water splutters as it falls from the kettle, muddying itself in the cup. I get the milk, surprised at the light trapped in the fridge, the cold merges into me.
The heat leaches from the cup as I lumber back to the bathroom. I catch a glimpse of a faded face. I turn away, shed my clothes, exposing my cadaver. I lower it into the water and lay embalmed
The water cold, I heave myself free and drag a sandpaper towel over parchment skin. I throw clothes over me and sit at my desk.
I wake my computer, its blue light sears my optic nerve. I prepare myself, waiting to be flogged. Each byte leaves its mark, striping what’s left of me away.
I sit and watch my computer screen. A notification badge updates. It could be an email, or IM. It doesn’t matter, just another piece of busywork.
I’ve sold myself, 8 hours a day, to tend to the needs of a corporate slug. 8 hours is what I’m paid for, shadow work consumes more: Emails at 22.00, emails 07.00, meetings at 08.30 and 18.00, reports to review, calls that “just can’t wait” until tomorrow.
My life trudges on its monotonous death march. I wake, work, eat, sit brain-dead in front of tedious TV. I drink wine to dull my mind; to silence the nagging wasted feeling that haunts my waking hours. I stumble and trip up stairs. I slump on my bed, waiting for the blackness to engulf me.
One day I won’t wake up. If I’m lucky I’ll stumble and trip up stairs, slump on my bed, the blackness will come and then nothing. More likely I’ll end up lying on a hospital bed, machines forcing life into my decaying body, eventually they’ll stop. My body will bloat and dribble away, exposing my bones. My bones will crumble to dust.
Post will fill my mailbox, late fees and interest will expand my debts, eventually they’ll stop too.
I will not persist, people will forget me, my grave stone will erode. There will be no record of me, I will never have existed.
He’s emailed me again, “What does this mean?”, “What’s the impact on this going to be?”. We were in the same meeting for fucks sake!
This guy’s a joke, how can a person work in an industry for 20 years and not have anything more than a superficial understanding?
I write as clear an explanation as I can muster. I list the consequences and the steps that will minimise the risk. I send the email.
Am I just perpetuating the ignorance? I know he’s not going to read the email. I know he’s not going to even try to understand. Should I stop enabling him? Should I let him get found out!?
Less than a minute passes and a meeting request arrives in my inbox. It’s from him. It’s to “review” my email and explain the impact.
He hasn’t checked my calendar to see if I’m free. I’m not, but I accept anyway. I’ll cancel at short notice to signal my displeasure.
It used to be that people called to arrange meetings. These days, if they bother to check at all, they find the first slot that works for them and assume everyone will change their plans. The world has become so egocentric.
It’s clear that my time has no value. All that matters is his time, his priorities, and how he looks to the broken hierarchy.
He is just one of them who force their priorities on me.
They’ve stopped thinking.
They’ve been lying to themselves so long that they don’t notice the lie anymore.
“We’ll do that next time around” they say, trying to justify not doing something that was important but that can no longer be finished in time. Never mind that any fool could have spotted that the original plan was a fantasy.
They’ve stopped thinking.
My job is to butcher reality, to give them only the information they need to support their short term thinking. My job is to help them look good, rather than do good.
I used to protest. I used to try to convince them but now I’m complicit. Most of us are, but we’ve been lying to ourselves so long that we don’t notice the lie.
I’ve stopped thinking.