Ergastulum

As a teen I worked in a call center, gridded partitions of prefabricated carpeted half-walls dividing us into individual bees with an action item list. I worked in the “premier support” grid which would cost you a few dollars per minute to have me answer your phone call.

Winter sales expanded the reach of our customer base, which would have been thrilling had we received bonuses or some compensation for being the actual pleasant voices heard by consumers. Instead we were plagued with desperate inquiries to resolve the problem of a packaged, though optional, program over-writing an INI file used by a an application that was pre-installed with the operating system. In the spirit of being completely open, the desktop PC is unboxed with some Barbie video game installed and certain packages included the Doom video game. When installing Doom it overwrote an important something-something.ini file which caused the Barbie game to stop working.

This is likely the appropriate time to explain that our logo reminded us of Kurt Cobain. Day and night conversing with technophobic and irate customers, while peering at the face of a man that had done the right thing. We all contemplated the possible ways we could end it.

To my surprise, people wanted to play with the Barbie game, so the phone techs came up with an INI file that resolved the issue and included the parameters for both games. This caused so much phone traffic we were allowed to get overtime.

Cause and effect led us to sleeping on the tables in the cafeteria and going back to work. The alternative was sleeping in my car. Not for a nap before clocking back in, but for sleeping at any time. For a blip in my life, that is viewed as a long and oppressing era, I had no where to live. But I did have a 1977 Datsun 280 Z Coupe. This means I had a car with no back seat and no ability to recline the front seat. This is where I slept when it was time to escape the world. I would wake up every hour or so because of noise or the sheer cold of the Rocky Mountain winter.

The background features a luxurious 2+2 model which had reclining front seats.
The Greatest American Hero, Ep. 1.07

 

During this period of daily work-nap-work the company had decided to loop the first and only US commercial in the break room. It had the feel of a late nineties Nine Inch Nails music video and a Tim Burton film. While watching it I could feel the hopelessness of George Orwell’s dystopian Nineteen-Eighty-Four.

With the sound muted I would roll over to see the wall covered with the corporate blood-splattered logo, the suggestion, the urge, the bearing, the compulsive pressure bearing down to incline myself to stop dog-paddling and commence with the drowning.

I would move over again, facing the never-ending video that promised hope and change from the dark cyclical life of soul-crushing meaningless work. The monotony of pretend happiness at the end of the single-file line, if only we could chose that other path. If that option were actually available to the tolitaria.

I closed my eyes and remembered I hate purity, I hate goodness!