Putrid Modern Hell #26

by HST UK on February 12, 2012

The Drought

There came a time last year when I considered removing my standard issue clip-on tie, unbutton my epaulettes and walk straight out of the automatic doors. It had been a month since anything of note had happened.

I’d not known anything like this before, the last time we had a dry spell. I’d say no more than a fortnight had passed. This time around we stooped into a bleak second month.

I know the job is ‘boring’, and often members of the public have come up to me and asked me how I do it. I’m amazed when they actually say this. Have you ever walked up to a cleaner, and asked them how they are able to clean toilets? Have you said that to a binman? The girl behind the counter at the McDonalds Drive Thru? The factory worker on the production line of a toothpaste factory who makes sure all the tops are screwed on properly?

You do a job because you want to earn money and actively contribute to society. Unfortunately most of the time people are working in jobs they don’t enjoy; even more so in these austere times. It’s not all bad for me, there are some perks, interesting elements of the job, only you have to tolerate many hours, days, weeks and at the moment months, when nothing happens.

Another barren week unfolded like this…

Tuesday: Got into work at around quarter to eight, I felt energetic after my two rest days; however a couple of hours into the day and already I miss my freedom; leisure time in which I’ve spent time sleeping, eating and in the evening drinking hard liquor. I pine for action, something to engage my brain.

Throughout the day everyone looks innocent, there is no nervous body language displayed from potential shoplifters, no obvious junkies, drunks or chavs, nobody with empty old shopping bags. People speak to me, usually to say they are lost, they have no idea where they are going. Where is the café? Where are the toilets?

Wednesday: I stroll in unshaven; my body feels a little achey after last night’s session at the gym. I think of the red haired girl in the push-up bra who is irresistibly distracting. The way she works on her core, all those abdominal crunches; and there I was using all my will power and strength of mind not to look at her as I stumbled along on the treadmill.

The meeting with the store management team after lunch is awkward. I play on the positives, and insist that all is quiet in the City. Each day you must justify that you’re needed. Cancelling a security contract would save the company fifty thousand. They could do an internal job, with less manpower for half the cost.

Thursday: The halfway stage of the week. I have one eye on the life raft, those forty eight hours of rest still lie two days away, and already due to nothing happening, a respite is needed. We have evidence of theft, finding empty boxes and hangers, but nothing concrete. It rankles with you, you’re two steps behind.

It doesn’t help wearing this clown suit. Sure, it acts as deterrence, looking like a chump on a misguided authority trip. The trouble with the uniform is that it acts as a magnet for fools to try your patience. They mock you, they pity you, they force you to clench your fists and bury your frustrations somewhere deep where no doubt they will one day likely resurface when you don’t want them to.

Friday: My knee is playing up again. I have to stretch regularly. The day is long and arduous, and being on my feet all day doesn’t help matters. I’ve worn out three pairs of shoes this year, and dozens and dozens of socks, I go through no end of those. One of the bizarre things that has happened is that the inner crotch of my trousers has become threadbare. I’m assuming there is some serious friction being generated from my muscular thighs. Maybe it’s because my company provide us with cheap trousers.

Saturday: I’m a zombie going through the motions. Staying frosty is tricky, but I manage to remain focussed in spite of the random daydreams that keep running through my head. You stand in one corner, looking across the shop floor, your eyes wander from person to person, after several minutes you begin to think of other things. Food – when’s lunch? Coffee, I could do with a pick me up.


I realize all those years on the riverbank with my Father; hours spent waiting for a bite. Watching a float bob along, or if ledgering, waiting for the quiver tip to flick upwards. Those moments when my levels of patience were tested, I think they’ve helped me to do this job, patiently surviving each hour. You come to realize that these moments, however trying or disappointing can actually benefit you. In fact, it’s a good thing to have periods of your life when nothing much happens, moments that allow you to ponder, and to plot, to dream and to plan an escape.


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