Back to non-canned writing now. Have to keep-up real time. Wish me continued success please and thanks again for the comments.
Work has me hot-footing it; running the pit of hot coals, deftly letting the balls of my feet linger in the red just long enough for a little layer of perspiration to evaporate into a protective bubble of steam before lifting them again. It’s that time of year at the sawmill where we do annual reviews. That blessed time where I get to sum up both my work, and the collective work of my team, with some words on paper.
Sharaun’s still taking me to work in the mornings and picking me up evenings. The broken car is still at the We Fix It In An Inordinate Amount of Time body shop. ETA on that changes every time they call me on the date they last “projected” we’d get her back. Slipped out in week increments at first but, perhaps sensing my growing frustration, they’ve now taken to half-week delays each time it’s “not quite done” yet. It’ll be nice to have a second vehicle back. Just think about it… in China you’re only allowed one child – and here I am complaining about missing our second automobile. Only in America.
One morning this week, arriving at work and kissing both my ladies goodbye for the better part of the day, I walked up to the doors as always. At work we have to wear a badge and on the way into the sawmill you’re required to wave your badge in front of a badge-reader. Once this machine verifies you’re badge is valid and that you’re still lucky enough to be gainfully employed a little green light will come on and a happy beeee-eeee-eeep will fill the lobby. This is your go-ahead signal; you have been validated; and while it shouldn’t be misconstrued as a personal endorsement from corporate or anything – you will be allowed to toil for another blissfully servile day.
So important is our being badged that we hire a security force to further watch for the green lights and listen for the beep. In this way, the sawmill suits contract out the most severe responsibility of catching the type of masochistic scoundrel who’d want to sneak into a place where one’s soul is robbed hourly of all joy. These human redundancies take their employ very seriously, and will shout choruses of, “Sir? Sir?! Sir!!” after any who dare pass the checkpoint without a beep and a flash. They are most dedicated.
This morning, however, my badge did not beep.
I stopped dead and attempted to wave the thing in front of the machine again, not wanting to be caught in a hail of interrogatory “Sirs.” No beep. No light. I walked to the next beeper machine (there are three, I assume to ease congestion). No beep. No light.
“My badge seems to be broken,” I told the uniformed man. “Try it again,” he suggested, the sum total of his knowledge regarding possible solutions to my problem now plainly evident. Like smacking a piece of electronics when it’s not functioning right, I waved the badge again so he could watch it fail. “No beep. No light.,” he said. “No beep. No light.,” I said. We looked at each other and for a moment I was worried I’d broken the poor man’s brain. But, with his debug procedure complete, he simply pointed me to the “badge office” and said I’d likely need a new one.
It was already past 8am now and despite the sawmill being extremely lax in holding us employees to appointed working hours I’ve always been an eight-to-five kinda fellow. I checked my watch, five minutes past. No meetings to rush off to and with only a slight disruption to my coffee and banana acquisition procedure I decided to see the “badge office” right then and there. I approached.
“My badge seems to be broken,” I told the man. He took it from me, verified that it was broken, and proceeded to sit down at his computer to fashion me a new one.
Now, let me tell you that I’ve been at the sawmill now for ten years and that back on that first day of my tenure here, now so misty in my memory, they’d taken a picture of me to use on my all-important badge. I’ve actually written about this picture before, for it is truly horrible. For ten years I’ve had this post-college me staring back at me on my badge, looking all beer-fat and sheltered to the realities of corporate life. Ten years looking down at that Napster-loving, $4-pizza-subsistent, neophyte.
I saw my window.
“Sure wish I could get a new picture on there,” I said casually. Now I know full well that, for whatever reason, likely cost, the sawmill is strongly averse to re-taking badge photos. I have a friend who lost a ton of weight and his badge photo ceased to resemble him in the least. Even still he described his ordeal trying to get the badge photo updated as pulling teeth. Knowing the ugliness of his travails I doubted my offhand comment would accomplish anything.
“Do you need a new picture?,” he asked. Oh. An opening. Play it cool Dave, don’t let on your excitement. Think logically. What would be a logical reason to request a new badge photo? Aha! “Just look at how fat I am in that one,” I replied. Now this is true; I have, over the past year, lost a considerable amount of weight. Not enough, mind you, that I’m certifiably healthy per government standards, but I’ve at least got myself partway there. He looked at the old photo, looked at me. “OK come on in,” he said.
Took maybe five minutes and I had my new badge. I think it’s an improvement.