My ass hurts.
I’ve been sitting down for the past three days. Well no, that’s not entirely true. I did stand up a few times, to use the bathroom and to take the subway to and from.
And, I’m bored.
Motivation needed — maybe I’ll get another snack, which will entertain me for five minutes while I eat it, and then another three hours while I regret it. It came out of the vending machine. Seventy-five cents for a prepackaged, crunchy, sticky bar that I will devour without ever tasting.
Now my two ailments are in cahoots — I eat because I’m bored, and my ass hurts because I keep eating. No wonder Americans are obese. We are corralled into cubes all day long with no outlet but a screen to stare at and only the simulations of hunger and guilt to remind us that we are still, in fact, alive. And yet, this defines us?!
If you are just meeting me: What do you do?
If you know me: How’s work?
It’s always the first question, implying that where you spend forty hours every week must be your persona’s priority. I do not prioritize the cube.
The forty-hour workweek — Who came up with this idea?
A better question (perhaps because it has an answer): When did he come up with this idea?
I say he because it was undoubtedly a man, sometime in the 1950’s, after America had won a few wars, he had to raise the pissing contest ante; America will become the corporate powerhouse. “If we wear suits with ties and carry our briefcases and bowler hats every day, we will emanate power, still be the champions. Watch us smoke our cigarettes; we exhale our satisfaction with ourselves.”
The men took meetings (fuel for their minds: shaken when with clients, on the rocks for in-house brainstorming), and women typed the minutes. Everyone moves slower when in a drunken, smoky haze; eight hours were needed — perhaps just enough time to produce one perfectly spaced and spelled typewriter memo. A corporate frat party.
But now it is 60 years later, and I am sitting in a box. Instead of flicking a cigarette, my left hand is glued to my keyboard (I don’t even smoke, and am grateful that those around me can’t; however, the principle remains: recreation gone regulation). And instead of a rattling scotch on the rocks in my right hand, it too, is attached to my keyboard. Type. Type. Type. Type. Always typing. I am stone sober, working for the same number of hours as those historical drunken fools in a technological age where everything moves faster.
Does anyone else see a problem in this? Basic math, people — if I can type 10 emails in the same time it took to typewrite one memo, shouldn’t I only have to be here one-tenth the time?
But no — eight hours a day, five days a week I am here, allotting me only eight days a month — eight days a month — to do as I please. I am 24 years old, living in New York City, and yet the only relationship I seem to have time for is with the Man. Everything revolves around Him; every decision I make goes back to the unyielding scales of corporate America: “how much am I going to regret this when I have to sit back down in that chair tomorrow morning?”
A delicious dinner — settling sediment onto my thighs as I sit, immobile for the daylight hours.
A casual drink (or two, I am 24 after all) — slightly blurred vision, my eyes stinging from the inescapable iridescent glow of my computer screen.
A late-night phone call or TV show — exhaustion. I have to rise by 7 to be at work by 8, and although I am sitting down all day, my positioning is neither comfortable nor relaxing.
Breath. Keep my head down. Keep my fingers typing. Unlike the 1950’s, as a 2009 woman in the workforce, I can aspire to one day be the Man in charge. And when I am, the 40-hour workweek is the first thing to go.