“I hate working on the assembly line. It’s so boring!”
I shook my head as I overheard the conversation. Despite trying to curb my habit of eavesdropping I’m a sucker for a good story in the workplace, so I end up unintentionally eavesdropping on lots of conversations that happen near by my office door. Hoping for a good one. It’s easy too, because for some strange reason, people at the printer just outside my door seem to think that because the printer is printing they cannot be heard over its sound. So I listen, and every so often, there is a good story or two.
Her story was not a good story. Sorry to disappoint you.
Recently our factory had a bunch of no-call and no-show terminations on our assembly line. With the assembly far behind and tons of orders coming in for our jerky seasoning, an emergency mandatory schedule was made of office workers to assist in two shifts a week on the assembly line stuffing our jerky seasonings into their boxes. It’s a pretty mindless job once you get a rhythm going. It consists of repetitive motion, and lots of it, in a very small area. Her particular story was…well…of how boring she found it, and wished her team had been able to go faster so she could feel busy. I had to sympathize a little, because my team also went much slower than I felt my pace required, but thankfully I did not find the job very boring at all.
There is nothing quite like a factory assembly line to daydream in, and if you can function pretty well in a rhythm and still have a rich inner life, assembly line work is wonderful. My experience had been different than hers because of this. As a story lover and teller, as well as a maladaptive daydreamer, I find that I am nearly never bored. I always have a storyline going in my mind. So as I stuffed boxes to the beat of a whirling and magnificent automated machine, I was also having a mystical fantasy adventure in the back of my mind, where the world was never boring and the story never had to end.
I often wonder how sad the inner lives of boring people must be, if they have any inner lives at all. I knew so little about this coworker, and yet, all I did know was about her dislikes. She hated cold, hot, rainy, or bright weather…which pretty much covers all weather. She disliked her vacation to the Bahamas because her phone got wet and stopped working…and somehow being unreachable makes a vacation worse. She’s a mother, but tends to only complain about motherhood. Over all, she seems to be the kind of person…who is unable to be pleased unless she is at home, her kids are gone, and the AC or heat is just right, and her husband isn’t bothering her, and she can just watch TV, or if people see her as some kind of victim in life and resonate with her struggle.
That’s just what I found out in the bits a pieces of conversations just prior to her comment about the assembly line. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to make drastic assumptions off of…especially if you’re a storyteller. So I will.
I wonder what those people are like in the head. I wonder if they just worry about reality all the time? Do they get caught up and stuck in it? Do they dream about things that are surreal? Do they have any imagination at all? I shudder to think they don’t. I worry about people who don’t daydream. I worry about people who live too much in the now, and don’t get to take a break from it. What must that be like? Do I even want to know?
I put a great deal of pride in having a very rich imagination. I like working on an assembly line and pretending I’m in a gold mine shoving bricks into sacks so my fellow dwarves can present them to the dwarf king. I like pretending that the large plastic mold machine in the other room is actually the engine room of an air ship flying high over an industrial Steampunk city unseen beneath my feet. I like pretending that the cardboard warehouse (where we keep the unused boxes for product) is a cave of layer upon layer of different rocks that I have to venture though to find the treasure I seek. I like that my world is more than it appears, that my mind is bigger than it seems, and that my imagination is free to wander during my waking hours as I wait to return to my evening dreams where I feel more at home. I have a really hard time relating to people who lack vision or imagination, and I worry if they are worse off over all because of it.
What baffles me about this coworker is that people seem to really like her.
I’m in a bit of a catch 22 over it, because a I find I also envy people to are really grounded in reality. I feel like more often than not, they’re far more relatable than people like me. They don’t seem to struggle with maintaining friendships like I do, because somehow they can craft small talk in a way my mind can’t. They aren’t awkward, because boring people can keep conversations going about simple things…and most people can follow that kind of conversation…while people like me tend to feel their soul getting ripped from their body when caught in small talk. People seem to gravitate to boring people. People seem to like to gossip with them and talk really rationally and plainly about stuff rather than wishy washy, awkwardly, and outlandishly like I do. People hang out with grounded people. People don’t know what to do with people who have their heads in the clouds like I do. People know what to expect with a boring person. The conversations will be comfortable. Nothing will get passionate or heated. No one will have to think too hard or use their imagination, and I feel sad for all of them.