This morning my body walked on autopilot from the train to work while I used the dramatic ending of Sigur Rós' song Hjartað Hamast to attempt to teleport far, far away from that awful place. I found myself mentally running through a vast expanse of field under the piercing blue dome of the Arctic sky, tiny as an insect by comparison and breathless, attempting to transform and become a feature of that place so I could stay forever. The violin at the end of that song slays me every time.
But once I was through those revolving doors of that giant building on Michigan Avenue, there was no escape. I'm back at the Hatchery this week. For those of you who aren't familiar with my pet name for the data entry temp job I have, please refer back to my "Brazilians, Buffalo, and Christmas" post from a couple of months ago. I had a nice break from it when I took a two-week-long assignment elsewhere, but the down side of that is that since I've been gone I have almost completely lost the tolerance I had built up for seven hellish hours of nothing but copying and pasting text. So I shall console myself by ranting just a little bit about my day here on my trusty blog. Reader, this is your out. Take it now or join me...
Ah, the uncomfortably warm room of computers. A girl I've spoken to a few times before exclaimed my name when I walked in, apparently surprised that I hadn't been fired. Why would I be fired? Never mind that I haven't been to work on time in two months, doesn't she know I've got some of the fastest data hands in the Midwest? She's the girl who references glitter a lot in conversation and had by far the worst fake British accent of the whole "talking group" (as friend Ali and I call them) when they decided to participate in "Talk Like A Brit Day," a fake holiday which they had discovered on the internet one week prior. And there is the extremely tall guy who steadily eats breakfast cereal at his computer throughout his entire shift (he even keeps a gallon of milk in the office fridge). And over there, the redheaded girl from Wisconsin whose other job is as a guide on chocolate tours of the city, lucky thing. Ah! Here is the young man who sits next to me! He talks and dresses like a wannabe gangster who grew up in the suburbs and always reeks of smoke after his breaks. He once spent about twenty minutes explaining in an unnecessarily loud voice to an equally "eloquent" girl sitting next to him that, "in da old days da Vikings had dis religion where da only way you could get into heaven was to die in battle, and so dey would organize suicide battles," which she resoundly refused to believe. I seethed silently in my seat for as long as I could stand it, occasionally making eye contact with Ali, whose reassuring gaze seemed to say, "Try to remain calm, but if you do decide to burn this place to the ground once and for all, at least give me time to grab my purse and get a head start for the elevators," before interrupting them both on their fifteenth round of, "No way is that true!" and "I'm dead serious!" and telling them that I'm Icelandic and part of what he was saying was, in fact true, so just drop it. Drop it he did not, and seemed to be trying to patch things up by saying that he was Catholic and to him that religion might seem crazy, but to a Viking his religion might seem just as crazy. Then it was I who was giving Ali the calming eye from over top the monitors, good friend that she is. And here, at last, is the seat I've claimed for myself, all the way on the end of the row, next to a north-facing window with a view of a clock tower and a fraction of the Chicago River. Normally, Ali sits diagonally across from me, but she doesn't work Wednesdays this month so I was on my own.
I settled in and decided to ease the pain of work by returning to my favorite amusing podcasts, I'd missed them so! I started with this News Quiz taken from "Friday Night Comedy" on BBC Radio 4. I got the best abdominal workout I've had in a while from a near-epic battle with the raucous laughter that kept trying erupt from deep within my belly, but which I would only let out as an occasional quaking wheeze, wiping away tears of mirth and occasionally allowing myself a gasp of breath while keeping my face turned toward the window and away from my fellow computer drones. Afterward, I decided that as a cool-down I'd take a little stroll to the ladies' room for a private moment to compose myself. Holy Krishna, was that a funny episode, and where can I get a bottle of Buckfast Tonic Wine?
Why is it that at this and every other workplace I've ever had, whenever I decide I'd like to use the restroom, every single female in the entire office decides to join me? Just when I'm relaxing and enjoying my privacy, there go both sets doors, squeaking open as woman after high-heel-clicking woman files in to take her morning/afternoon/random time pee. Why? Could it be that they detect my scent on the artificial wind and mistake my bathroom needs for their own? Following me like a herd of wildebeest to whatever fate lays beyond my footsteps? I've always liked to think that my pheromones were, at the very least, strong contenders for the charismatic leader position among other females, but this is ridiculous.
And yes, the women's restroom of any establishment is often an inner sanctum of female secrets. Girls console their weeping friend who caught her idiot boyfriend locking braces with the class slut at the middle school dance. Strangers in nasty bar bathrooms exchange advice on how to handle dates gone awry. A future high-powered executive looks in the mirror and gives herself one last pep talk before interviewing for the job that will get her foot in the door. I also know that we are considered the more social gender, and so shouldn't I enjoy a chance to close the door on the patriarchy and commune with my sisters in our porcelain tiled realm? Honestly, no! Every once in a while a girl needs her own Fortress of Solitude, and darnit, I want the work bathroom to myself! Maybe if I took my cue from unskilled hunters and camouflaged my powerful pheromones with deer piss the others wouldn't follow me and I could get a second alone. Or maybe there was just a meeting that let out at that exact moment, who knows.
For lunch I had a microwaveable bargain basement pasta meal, followed by a stroll around the lobby of the building, where I purchased a birthday card for my fairy goddaughter/non-blood-related niece, the gorgeous baby Magdalene, who turns one tomorrow. Then, I settled back in for the final stretch, the taste of irradiated preservatives lingering coyly on my palate.
The usually taciturn supervisor actually made not just one, but a few attempts at initiating normal conversation with me, which was so unexpected and out of character that I was actually quite startled, and didn't know how to react. So I just gave the bare minimum responses in an attempt to encourage him back to the comfortable status quo of not treating me or anyone else like an equal. However, these tactics did not seem to work, au contraire, I have now been offered a chance to go back to working full-time hours, instead of continuing to live in an admittedly intoxicating state of fear that I will, at any moment, be completely broke and turned out into the street to freeze and/or starve to death. I reluctantly accepted.
All right, that was my day today, and now it's off to another wonderful girls' night. The always delightful Abbie is making jambalaya at her house, and I need to stop by the store to pick up something for dessert on my way. Adieu!