My typical day starts the same as most people’s: the comforting land of unconsciousness is brutally shattered by the forced awakening into the prison that everyone insists on calling “reality”; I shower off the filth of the previous day and night so as not to offend the senses or invite infection; and I insert food and drink into the machine that is my body, enabling it to function for yet another day. I then head to the bus stop, as my commuter membership requires that I be transported with other like-minded souls who also choose to live far from our places of employment in order to reduce our take-home pay by that much more. I arrive five minutes early at the area where we all mill around and I grimace at one of the regulars, who is very polite and takes it as a smile.
“Good morning," she says. "How are you?”
“Bad. My heart stopped when I woke up this morning and my feet hurt.”
“Oh, that’s too bad.”
“Glad we agree. How are you?”
We go through the same routine every morning – she never gives up on me, the sweetheart.
At the office, I see the mailroom guy who doesn’t come up to our floor often.
“Oh, hi!" He waves at me. "How have you been?”
“Not well at all – my sciatica’s acting up again and my aunt’s in the hospital.”
“Oh no, I hope it’s not too serious.”
“It is. How have you been?”
“I’m doing well, thank you. Take care now.”
“You, too.” I’ll probably never see him again.
Lunch is another force-feeding session – will I never regain my sense of taste? – and then it’s back to the paper shuffle. My boss stops by my cubicle.
“So, how’s it going?”
“Terribly. The report’s going to be late, I misplaced a file, and I think I’m losing my vision staring at the computer screen all day. How’s it going with you?”
“Uh, let’s talk in my office.”
We have a nice chat about this and that, and I get an almost-free visit to the eye doctor out of the deal. As I head to the bus station to make the return journey to my haven, the doorman stops me.
“Hi, I’m the new evening doorman. How are you today?”
“Not good, thanks – I’m in constant pain and this afternoon I almost got fired. How are you today?”
“Oh, I’m good, thanks.”
Why does everyone lie to me?