Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Empty Shells (Aug. 2, 1980)


 There no answer in the sand, or in the waves that rushes up at my feet as I walk. But I've come here to breathe salty air and seek the comfort of the ocean. In the early morning hours Ocean City is a tomb, with only we few souls wandering its empty boardwalk, the face of its concessions covered over and their prizes hid.
 I nearly quit my job yesterday, just another slave among slaves, punching in and out, sweating my brains away for an hourly wage. We grumble in the lunch room about the boss, blaming him for all of our ills: he keeps us down, we say with all the heartened vigor of budding communists, though I have seen my bosses face at the end of day, and his sore eyes searching out our faces as we leave. It can't be easy for him. He knows we plot against him, and yet he struggles to keep his face unmoved. He knows we have nothing to lose. We can't be ruined by rumor. We haven't staked our lives out in this place. Even when its permanent, it is only a temporary job, one from which we plan to move the moment a better opportunity comes along.
 This is a ladder to him. He climbs us and this place like rungs, gambling that we will hold him until he can reach the next and the next, each step requiring his total concentration. I imagine him as I walk here, at home curled up on his coach, stomach aching with worry over what Monday will bring, and Tuesday, and whether he can weather us to get himself promoted, his resume full of blank lines waiting to be filled, each representing faces like ours, an ocean of workers waiting to mock him and plot against him. How can that be fun?
 I bend, pick up a piece of sea shell and toss it back to the sea, half wishing I had asked him to come south with us to enjoy the sun and water, the other half of me glad I hadn't. Let him suffer. Maybe the next boss will be better or less hungry to move on.

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