19 August 2017

The Air Conditioned Nightmare

by Andrew

I'm stuck here, my day off, at my mother's. I have nothing else really to do. That's sad. I was glad for the weekend too, my first having the job. Thought I'd finally get some time to write and read, an entire day or 2. Though I have been writing through the week. Just more time I thought I'd get.

The stepdad is on Facebook. Look here, he says, so and so just had a baby. And look here, so and so are visiting so and so in Ohio who own their own farm. And look, there's so and so with the family at the zoo. The nephew asks, what's a root-beer-float? He screams actually, when he talks. He's pulling the hairs on my legs. He just threw his slinky at me. If he breaks this phone, he's trying. I hate how kids demand attention. Just leave me alone, I always feel. The stepdad is petting the dog, talking to it ridiculously. My mother is upstairs in her room sleeping. Usually I would be up in my little room here too, hiding. But I can't. I can barely turn round in there. It's no place to be.

It's such a beautiful day outside. But I am inside sitting at the kitchen table typing, thinking should I go hide upstairs in that little room the rest the day or not. The nephew is standing on the table, right in my face, pulling my hair, screaming in my ears, just talking. Why do you talk so loudly, I say. He jumps down and pours out a bucket of his toys in the middle of the living room floor and laughs maliciously, as he watches the TV, multi-tasking.

I sneak outside. I must be out here at least. It's such a beautiful day. The nephew didn't hear or see me, so inside he stays, glued to the TV, throwing toys all round. Till he notices, I can write out here undisturbed. I really wish he'd learn how to entertain himself. He needs left alone, really, till he figures it out. He needs to get outside more, and roam. He could learn to ride his bike or something. Or if he'll sit inside all day, he can paint pictures or something, read, to keep him quiet.

I just realized. I should be helping him along do these things. Who else will teach him to ride his bike? Who else will take him for walks round the neighborhood so that he can learn it? Who else will take him fishing? Or who will teach him the joys of art? Here is me, complaining about being stuck. If only I'd move.

But this is not my life, I'm constantly reminded. The stepdad, look, so and so are doing such and such with so and so. Look, they have a life, out doing this and that, and you don't. You have nothing.

Regardless, I had to escape that air conditioning at least. All week at work, training, watching the typical, required junk that most jobs must cover,—safety and such, and blah, blah—I had to sit there at a table in the conference room quiet, like a good, little cow, directly under an air conditioning vent, freezing cold as it blew air right onto me. My eyes are still dry. The only thought in my mind all week was, that I should stand up right now and leave, to get outside, to warmth, to freedom. If I had more than a dime to my name. The girl who's training with me, she sat under the other air conditioning vent, on the other side of the room. She couldn't take it any longer. She got up and moved, changed seats. What are you doing, the supervisor said, booming. It's cold, the girl said, squeaking.

That's insane to me. It's so cold in those buildings at the job. The air conditioning is set to 70 degrees Fahrenheit all over, I've noticed. But it feels so much colder. It's wet, the air, and clammy, and cold. It's a recipe for sickness. I need to get outside for some fresh air, for some warmth, to warm my bones. But I'm not allowed.

Even in one of those safety videos they had us watching, it says, that you are here at the job to work. When you are here, you're expected to keep busy till it's time to go. Only on scheduled breaks can you stop working—to breathe. Which all sounds like a lot of shit to me. Wouldn't it be safer for me if when I am feeling claustrophobic, trapped inside, that I take a minute to step outside for air? So that I don't lose my mind completely. But the doors are locked. We're locked inside there, after hours, at night. And if you step outside, you can't get back in. So inside you must stay. And you must work. And be safe about it too. Lift correctly, and stretch here and there, at the start of every shift. But only for a minute or 2, now, do we want you stretching. We don't want you getting hurt and all, but be quick about it. We'd rather you here, that body of yours, working. That's what we're paying you for afterall, that body, to work.

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