The Thousand-Mile Stare

23 Aug

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The day after school let out, workers started ripping up the road I take to work, just beside the High School.  A little over a month later, the entire block section was hazarded off with more cones than a gnome convention, and looked roughly like ten or twelve meteors crash landed there, laying waste to the entire area.

…I heard its cuz the ground is falling.

…An unusual circumstance, wherein a population living on the side of a hill begins to slowly slide into the ocean down below it.  I dunno how ripping up a street can possibly fix this problem, but apparently it can, or at least we’re all gonna agree that it will

…Anyway….

…It’s ongoing, and besides being an extra time suck on the commute because of the natural detour route, we are also blessed with occasional one-way street closures at random with no heads-up, as you cook in the car. A dump truck going approximately negative three miles an hour, lollips its way along the full length of the street, gets lined up by the road workers, dumps its entire payload, and travels back to the highway ramp again, before they let anyone move.

This has happened to me FIVE TIMES.  So I’m kinda expert at it now.

…It’s because of this that I have learned the joy of multitasking while in my car.  In these circumstances one is given plenty of time to eat a meal, reapply makeup, sing the “Bohemian Rhapsody,” update every social network you partake in, ten times…and at last: study the animal that is “The Sign Flagger.”

“The Sign Flagger.”

A State Worker to the extreme, in that they (at least our brand), do very little signing or flagging or working, but get paid twice what I do, to stand around wearing bright florescent bibs and hard hats all day long.

I could do that.

…But it appears that you have to be willing to die a little bit on the inside to achieve this position.  This is what I gather by their constant faces of morbid boredom that would give a Funeral Director a run for their money. And that thousand-mile stare at the great “nothing” in the distance which seems to always be absorbing their full attention. This “thing” is like a sailor’s siren, brainwashing them into believing that they are in fact frequenting an entirely different universe from everyone else…and no one can see them picking their wedgies (or noses) though we are all in a forced line-up, directly facing them doing so.

…Or maybe they just don’t care that we can.  I dunno.

All I DO know is that after over a month of travelling that scene, I have yet to see even one of them move from their apparent specifically directed spots, say anything at all to anyone, or make eye contact.  It’s like peopling the entire roadway with outfielders in a Little League team who are more interested in picking flowers and watching the bugs fly around, than participating in the event that they were actually signed up for.

…This afternoon’ s shift included a particularly sad individual looking off into oblivion, talking to himself.  ‘least I assume it was to himself. Maybe he had an invisible friend hanging out with him. And maybe that friend’s name was Bob. Again, I dunno.

…All I kept thinking as I watched the apparent one-sided conversation, was that it seemed a pretty fluid topic, only no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get a grasp on what it might have been about.

See the thing was, there was zero change in his expression during the entirety of said conversation.

…And maybe cuz I’m an Actor (or even just a “human”) I kept trying to catch some kind of clue as to his thought process via the normal cues a human would give in these circumstances.  Like facial expressions.  Or posture changes.  Or hand movements.  But nothing.  As far as I could tell, the guy must have been reciting the phone book from memory, as an exercise to keep himself from going insane by standing there with no human contact while doing absolutely nothing, day-after-day-after-day.

…And so naturally I started to then think about my job, and the things that I do in order to “cope” and keep my sanity in tact…which might appear to the outsider as “frankly too late,” like our friend the Flagger here.

Because I’m “me,” I even made a list. It’s really short:

* I post signs. Everywhere.
(On the cork board, on the doors, on the Warehouse, the computers, the windows, the file cabinets…the Bosses desk, chair and monitor….the bathroom walls. I do this in hopes it will mean I have to repeat myself less often to the people who already know all the rules, which they continually break, directly-after claiming, “Well, I didn’t know…no one ever told me!” As if one needs to be told not to leave feces floating in the toilet, to close the door when you walk in or out of it, actually show up and do the job you were scheduled for, not fling cigarette butts into the half filled paint cans by the door, or ram the forklift forks literally through the walls.)

* I password protect and code everything.
(Because my office and the Boss’ are unlocked, people have access to anything at any time. Aside from the CLEARLY POSTED signs instructing no one, at any point to “touch” my shit, it is manhandled continually. They think they can get away with it, but because I’m OCD, I know the instant that any slight of change has taken place. So then I yell at them. But what I can’t just “yell away” are things like 5,000 pounds of missing product, horse-porn, emails to myself from myself, suggesting how I can give me a good time…the entire booking schedule and every shop tool going MIA, or the loss of the spare-spare keys for when Boss locks himself out again. Which it why password protection and coding is everywhere. The computers. The gates. The accessories room. The voicemail on the phone. If I could do it to my toilet even, believe me…I would.)

* I’m just plain mean.
(In my day-to-day life, I can certainly be a Diva at times, but at work, I’m often just plain mean. Its a necessary conditioning I’ve undergone. There is just too much shit to do in a day. If you aren’t to the point, then the Boss and gigolos think you’re “friends.” If you’re “friends” they want you to make “exceptions” for them. If you make “exceptions” for them, you turn into a “babysitter.” If you’re not their “babysitter,” you become their “mother.” If you become their “mother,” they want you to bend over backwards for them and do these “little extra things.” If you do these “little extra things” for ONE, you have to do them for ALL. And if you are doing hundreds of tiny exceptions…on top of the other five workloads you have to do in a day…they will never get their work done. And neither will you. Then, because you’re “friends” now, they just assume that means you’ll cover for them when Corporate calls, bitching about how shit is never getting done. So I avoid this ALL, by being mean and/or to-the-point, most of the time. They want as little as possible to do with me, they follow the rules that I tell them, and get an ear full when they don’t. Period.)

…These things may not seem like much, as necessary coping mechanisms, but they are. If I’m not sign and code obsessive, or if I ever pretended to be “one of the boys,” there would just be no repairing the damage that would accrue. I HAVE to do these things. Every day. Have to stick to them. Have to make it through with my head down and eyes focused with piercing gaze on the prize that is: “End Of The Day.” And then I take all the accumulated crap that has taken place, shuffle it around a bit and try to reclassify at least part , so I can laugh at it…reclaiming the power to shake it off, set the alarm clock, and attack it all over again tomorrow.

This is the true truth of it. Not the funny stuff you read in print.

…What I’m saying is: I totally understand that Flagger a hell of a lot more than I thought I did.

…Which is something to think about.

~D

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