13.1.12

The Ghost Of Employment Past


[Written in 2006 on scrap pieces of paper, which I found today.]


The entirety of each morning is a haze: the fog that hovers over the roads, the company pond, with the company tire floating in it.  This is a time in my life that gives me pause, which is why I am always late for work.  I roll over, and from within the haze of sleep, silence the radio alarm.  I don't hit the snooze button; I press it gently.  Anyone with enough energy to hit a snooze button needs to get up.  Caffeinated voices and static saturate every other frequency of the spectrum.  The morning music lilts and croons; in the afternoon, you're supposed to shake it and hump someone's leg. 


When I look at the data, then at the computer screen, then back at the data, the haze continues.  The woman at the other desk is Linda.  She has long straight hair and a grimace for a smile.  On her driver's license her hair is an eighties puffball, but the photo was taken two years ago.  "I got tired of spending an hour on it every morning," she said. 


Every day she provides more evidence to confirm that her retired army husband is an ornery son of a bitch.  "I don't fix the spaghetti that way because he doesn't like it that way."  "My husband doesn't like going to the movies.  He gets mad when people talk.  So it's better for us to just not go, watch movies at home."


Their satellite beams in wholesome channels to their giant screen TV.  But Linda works because she doesn't want to be stuck at home with Johnny all day.  She works at the factory because it's something to do, and right around the corner from their house, but Johnny won't let her walk to work. 


I push open the creaky door.  "Screee --"
"Well, look at you."
"Good morning," I say half-heartedly.  It's 7:05.
Her cough resounds in the silence created by my late arrival.  The clicking of keys overlaps into insect noise. 


"Bless you (?)," she says.  Linda had never said that when I sneezed because she thinks I'm a heathen, probably - or because her father, a Vietnam and Korean War veteran, was extremely startled by sudden noises such as sneezing.


One day we were outside eating lunch at one of the picnic tables in the sun. "Where are you going for Easter?" she asked.
"Well, I don't know."
"Oh, you haven't found a place yet...?
"What can I say."  I was drunk last Easter.  When we were telling stories of that kind, I shared that information with Amanda and she laughed.  Linda would have said I'm out of control.  I did feel out of control at the time.