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Lost at the Swimming Pool

04 Apr

 

 

Hey Gang!

It has been a while since I last wrote. That would be due to the soul sucking job I recently quit. There are few things in this world that can bring me down. People shoving animals with their feet, people who aren’t able to “get” why Howard The Duck should be on the list of greatest films ever and, finally, call centers. A call center, if you don’t know, is where you are seated for eight hours a day and monotonously take call after call. I was in the billing department and everyone I had was just so angry. Irrationally angry.

They would yell and call me expletives about their bill and why they are being charged so much. At first I just tried to keep calm at my desk where the screen to the computer and the whole room really was washed out by large fluorescent lights that hang overhead but it seethes and before I knew it I was having nightmares about the job and being yelled at. My self worth went way down.

There were no windows, so the only thing you could go by was a clock to see what time of day it was. It was all so mechanical. I was a living machine for all intents and purposes and even had a script to follow. I was called every name in the book and my intelligence was insulted because they were having a bad day but on my last day I did come across a funny one. A lady started telling me she wishes she didn’t have such a good moral compass because she would make an excellent criminal.

She told me about how she would wear the “Catwoman” costume and kick criminal butt. Then she said if I told anyone she would show up in my bedroom and “teach me a lesson”. I laughed uncomfortably and she then said, “What would you do if a beautiful woman like me showed up in your bedroom in a Catwoman costume? Pretty sexy, right?” I laughed so hard from it being uncomfortable and awkward. She understood I wasn’t going to answer and laughed about it. What I love most was this woman was in her mid-fifties, had a STRONG North East accent and was about 4’11” (so she said). We went on to talk about global conspiracies and how she believe people are watching her. I enjoyed every second of that awkward and beautiful call because that was the first real conversation I had had with anyone in weeks. The job just consumed all.

I WAS A MID-TWENTIES, FLESHY ROBOT

So, for days I sat down trying to think about what to write for a post but nothing came to mind. I was depleted creatively and mentally.

I visited home and had an eye opening experience there (my next blog post will be about that. Check back in a day or two for that one!). Yet, I would dread going back there. That looming beast of a building waiting to devour my individuality until I was a voice who only made sales and was only  good enough to be yelled at. So, I quit.

Fast forward to now. I was out applying for jobs at myriad stores, which I actually have a great shot at getting . I stopped to grab a bite to eat at this little Chinese restaurant I found that is completely out of the way. I walked in and thought to myself, “If I eat here there is a 73.2% chance that I will get food poisoning….but gas IS 3.67 a gallon…”

I did what any broke, rational gentleman like myself would do: I ordered the General Tso’s Chicken. The food was affordable and given in amazingly large portions on a long plate. I sat down at a tiny, blue booth in the back of the narrow, lime green eatery and dove into the plate. To my left was a long line of rolling, metal racks that held paper towels, napkins, 2 liters of soda and plastic utensils. If it hadn’t been for the booth I was sitting at I would have thought I was eating in a stock room. I am actually not quite sure that I wasn’t.

Two women and a tiny, young girl came in. They sat down at a booth that was just a few feet away from me. I began to do what I have done since I was 19. I don’t always do it but sometimes, when my mind goes idle, I begin to do what I call the “Swimming Pool Effect”.

A long time ago I was at a swimming pool and there were six or seven other people there as well, as it was a public swimming pool. I remember looking around and thinking that we all had our own lives. I had never met any off them before but for one moment in our lifespan, an hour or two out of the thousands we will live, all of our lives collided. They came together for this one event. We are all in the same place living out a story. So, what I would do is look at those people around me and try to come up with some scenario in my head of what they did to get there to that point and what they were going to do after. They became doctors and astronauts, thieves and saints. Maybe they were going to save someone from danger later that day or they had come from a huge fight with their spouse about bills. Maybe they were there to try to forget their stress or try to remember what relaxation was like. I tried to connect dots that led them all down the road where mine did. The road that ended at the swimming pool.

I sit and think about where these two women at the restaurant had been and about where they were going. I imagined that they were going to get the oil changed in their car and then take off out of town. They were running from something, maybe a man, maybe life itself but whatever it was they had to get away from it. They had to take off but before they did they decided to get delicious, likely E-coli riddled Wan Ton soup.

I laughed at the thought of that but then I realized that for the first time in the two months since I started my job, my creativity has come back. I wanted to write again and I was finally able to create fictitious back stories for real life characters. I was finally able to find the me that I unknowingly lost and he was hanging out at the Swimming Pool all along.

-Chris

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3 responses to “Lost at the Swimming Pool

  1. sweetsound

    April 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    This reminds me of something I saw a few days ago from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

    sonder

    n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

    Congrats on quitting your soul sucking job too. I did a call center once and didn’t last very long, it was awful! I hope you find a new, much better one soon, good luck!

     
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