Something ruins every day …
I am now a few weeks into the fifth year of life as an office worker. I have become everything I that I promised my 18 year old self I would never be. A degree in criminal justice, years spent working in security, and a strong creative drive wasn’t enough to escape the orbit of the powerful fortune 100 company located in my hometown.
In those five years I have gone from temporary contractor to a legit benefit receiving employee making a few hundred dollars above the lower middle class tax bracket.
The American dream. I’ve made it.
I make enough money to pay my mortgage, to buy the newest iPhone every two years, and to order as much vinyl as I want.
That financial piece of mind came at the expense of almost every moral value that I used to hold. I spend 9-10 hours every day in a pod with three other people. Sitting immobile for a dangerous amount of time completing mostly transactional work that will be automated in the next 5-7 years by more advanced computer technology. I am wasting the prime years of my life working for a corporation only designed to make as much profit as possible.
My brain is rotting away for a corporation that will discard me like the dirty French fry I kicked from the floor of my car onto the parking lot. I am not a person, I am a user ID that an automated accounts payable system pays the same amount of money every two weeks. I am an asset that only exists until the cost benefit analysis formula states it’s cheaper to invest in computer technology instead of paying me $42K a year.
To cope with this meaningless uncreative existence, I listen to music at work. Listening and being a fan of music is one of the few things that generates any kind of emotion in my manic depressive adulthood. I splurged last fall and bought air pods with my new iPhone to enjoy high quality sound, free of the restraints of tangled cords. Heavy metal, pop, electronic, rock and basically anything but modern country music is flowing through my ears at all times.
Today I was responsible for completing my already too many tasks assigned to my desk along with my sick co-workers time sensitive work. At 3:55 pm, nine hours into my work day, I stood up to waddle to the printer to pick up my co-workers emails. The incredibly brutal Venom Prison album that released today was blasting in my ears. Instead of taking out my air pods, I took advantage of their long range Bluetooth capabilities and turned down the volume so I could still hear anyone call my name.
In the 60 or so feet to the printer from my desk, I walked by about a dozen lost souls who are crammed into the open pod office environment like refugees in a shipping container. One of those people is my boss.
I grabbed my documents from the printer tray and turned around to see my boss trudging towards me. He was clearly walking with the intent to talk to me.
Could he be coming over to thank me for doing the work of three people for criminally low pay? Or maybe he is walking over to ask me how my day is going and what I am going to be doing this weekend? I pondered these questions to myself as I prepared myself for a social interaction.
“Hey Scott, I know this is going to sound weird,” he started to say. I looked at him listening intently as I could still hear him through my buds.
“I am going to have to ask you to not wear your ear buds as you walk around the office. They want us to tell you that as some of the higher leadership has noticed people walking around with ear buds in. It’s a safety concern.”
I hadn’t talked to my boss in days. Days in which I did an immaculate job completing my job and the job of others. I never take a lunch. I come into work early and I leave late. I am a model employee. Instead of recognizing that and thinking to himself it would be extremely petty to confront me about my headphones on a day where I am covering the work of multiple desks, my boss did the bidding of his corporate overlords and acted upon the unsafe behavior he was ordered to watch for in the memo sent to him through the internal propaganda machine.
Close to 4 pm on a Friday of a week full of so much work, any rational person would consider it unhealthy for only one person to complete, my boss told me to stop doing the one thing that prevents me from completely losing my mind.
He could have walked up to me and said, “Hey Scott, fuck your mother. Oh and your big nose combined with your flabby second chin makes your face look like a terrifying cross between a crow and pig. Go eat shit and die,” and I would have been less offended than him asking me to take out my air pods for “safety” concerns.
“Sure thing,” I said like the pathetic loser I now am.
As the disgusting corporate middle manager mutation scurried back to his desk, I stood in the print hub paralyzed as an existential crisis quickly engulfed me.
Except for a few rare moments, I am so busy at work I do not have time to acknowledge how excruciating my life is. Those moments have become less and less frequent as the corporate machine slowing breaks me down, killing my creative and optimistic adolescence and giving birth to my mindless and hollow adulthood.
Every once in a while something breaks me out of my trance and I am forced to look around and witness the horror of unhinged American capitalism. The horror, that if I am lucky, I will be working in for the next 30 years.
Written while listening to:
GosT – Possessor
Venom Prison – Samsara