It had been nearly 45 degrees and the rain fell in large pellets that felt like thumbtacks on my face and head. I brought my blanket scarf over my face a little more as I scurried like a timid church mouse indoors.
I dreaded being here.
Not just because of the New Year and having to come in on a Monday, be off two days, then be on again for two more. It was more or less the oppressive feeling I was getting from the atmosphere. Things were becoming more hostile. More uncertain. The company owner made obvious efforts to ignore me. Which made me nervous since that is what he did to the last person he let go. I felt the days here were numbered, but to what end? Fired? Laid off? Company closing? Finding new employment? Things were not looking good or sounding good so what else was I supposed to expect?
I watched the powdered creamer in my coffee turn into a film as it floated listlessly. I hardly thought about consuming it and simply did so, not caring about the appearance, and as my mind wandered I had to wonder if I really liked coffee or if I just used it to stay awake at work. After a while I decided it didn’t matter. Just like what I was doing here only mattered for my insurance and money. There was no passion left.
What did I really care about? I couldn’t even answer that. I hadn’t thought about it much. I didn’t want to. It would make working that much more unbearable. Passions? Who can afford those these days?
I walked into the kitchen to warm up my lunch of Ramen noodles. I saw my birthday on the whiteboard in red letters. At the bottom of the list. Like usual. Like I always felt. My golden birthday. Though I’m sure no one here knew it. Would it be so special? Probably not. It would probably be like any other birthday.
I recalled, as I put my Raman in the microwave to heat up, that I had to tell my husband what a golden birthday was. He had been cheated out of his apparently. Or so he claimed to feel. Mainly because he was 10 when it happened. It could be that he was given a golden birthday and he just doesn’t recall. He often doesn’t recall things. Yet, it could be that his family didn’t recognize or grow up with golden birthdays. Either way I didn’t expect anything big from him. He was a thoughtful man, but not an extremely generous one. I doubted he would spend much for my birthday gifts and they would be thoughtful, practical, and probably include a book of some sort. Not that I would complain, I love those kinds of gifts, but I didn’t expect anything bigger than the usual things like some might.
That was how I found myself living life lately. Low expectation. Settling. Not asking for more. Depressed and unable to feel like I could convey it verbally. Was I having an identity crisis for New Year? Was I having a midlife crisis prematurely? As an old soul I had wondered about that a great deal. Do old souls suffer a midlife crisis much too early because of how much older they feel? Or was I just restless at the uncertainty of everything? Was I just restless in general and would have to find ways to suppress it?
All I knew for sure was how much I hated working on the product catalog. No one else was at the company, having vacation days to burn up unlike myself. So it was all I had to work on with no one else around. A pile of notes sat at my left as I stared blankly at the thing. How could there be so many corrections? Did no one read this last year when we sent it out for review?
The marks from the pile indicated so many changes that it seemed as if a small child had scribbled all over the pages with a pen. Some of it was legible, but enough illegible that it required deciphering…and those who were needed for that were on vacation.
That was another discouragement. Graphics was always the last to touch a project, which meant making up for those who had not done their job prior, and were not going to do their job. So if things were wrong, no matter how much others were asked to look at and review the items we were producing…we were the ones scolded for inaccurate or missing information. Accused of “rushing” more often than not, even though everyone knew they were asking us to rush.
I was scolded much more than my coworker and office mate was as well. Not that I made more mistakes, in fact I made less according to former management, but because she would always have me send off her work which made people assume I had done the work. She also was often credited with work I had done, which I was not so sure wasn’t on purpose. I had suspected for a while that she was protected. Because her mom works with us, and plays a large roll at the company…and is friends with the owner. But that could also be my insecurity talking. Still, all of it felt painfully suspicious.
The atmosphere is overall stifling to the creative process, and by the time I’m home from dealing with intense (and sometimes abusive coworkers), long hours of tracking down information from the tight lipped, and attempting to do my job while navigating the cliques and politics that hold some pieces of the company together, and tear some apart, I am home and too exhausted to deal with my own husband.
I am so tired of it. Yet, I am trapped by it.