Hopelessness, Fluorescently Lit
When I was just 18 I had this job at a really crappy place. It was one of those jobs where the previous 3 people all quit because it was so sucky. In fact if I remember correctly the person right before me actually quit at lunch. They went to lunch and just never came back. This may have had something to do with the fact that the job paid like $5 an hour or something like that. Also the temp agency I worked through then were big huge jerks.
On my first day I got there on time or at least the time the agency told me to be there. No one knew I was coming and my boss wasn’t there. So I sat in a chair for an hour waiting for something to happen. Now this was my first temp job ever so I had no idea what to expect. Then it turned out that no one had told my new boss I was coming either and she yelled at me when she saw me. “What the hell are you doing here,” I believe were her exact words. So just in general not the situation of a lifetime.
Plus I have to tell you; the office was filled with crazy people. No one had offices, there were some cubes, but it seemed like a large amount of people just sort of moved around or sat at long counters with a phone every few feet. There was this one girl who was a complete drama queen and she would have these long and involved personal calls at the top of her lungs for like two hours every day and no one ever said anything until one day she got into a huge fight with her grandmother over something stupid. She was yelling and screaming and even cussing out her grandmother. Seriously, cussing out your grandmother???!?!?!?! Who does that? Anyway, that was enough to get her fired apparently, although personally I would have done it long before.
Even with all that wackiness, there was one thing I remembered about that office the most. Strange too because it wasn't especially wacky. See every morning almost right after they arrived people in the office would start talking about what they would get for breakfast that day. This would take up about 2 hours off and on. Then around 10:00 or so one of those traveling food things would pull up in the back parking lot and everyone would go out and buy something to eat. Then they'd take there morning break and eat and talk. Then about 10:30 or so they would start talking about what they were going to have for lunch and the whole thing played out again. Perhaps most frighteningly they did the same thing again in the afternoon.
I have to tell you this freaked me out. I know it sounds silly, but I had these nightmarish visions of that being the rest of my life. The idea that I could end up in a job and a life where the thing I had to look forward to most was my next opportunity to eat, terrified me. Everyone seemed so Stepfordish. There was just something so meaningless and pointless about it all (and no I did not just say two words that mean the same thing). They didn't make anything. They just sort of moved papers around and hoped nobody noticed. I worked with some of the customer service people and, with a few exceptions, they weren't especially nice to the customers they were supposed to be helping. Everyone seemed in limbo, waiting for some huge event that never came. Or maybe they were standing on the platform and just didn't realize the last train left 15 minutes ago.
Looking back I understand now that maybe I just didn't see any of the real stuff their lives contained. I'm sure some of them had husbands and wives and I know at least one of them (a woman who ended up in my college history class) had a child. Yet still to this day that office seems to me a micro chasm of the worst of the corporate world. It was like the opening scenes of Joe Vs. the Volcano a tiny spot of hell, decorated in beige, where hopelessness was fluorescently lit.