Friday, August 28, 2009

Last Day of Work

Here I am, sitting in my dusky purple office chair for the last time, looking around at these dingy cubicle walls. The pine cone I picked up a year ago while taking a lunch time walk rests atop the messy patchwork scarf I knitted between calls; my wall is adorned with blue and white thumb tacks, bits of sentimental paper stuck to it. The Acrobat Man is smooshed between my two shelves, his inflatable head half cut off, his stylized legs ever running into a wall.

My collection of stolen plastic flags stick out from the wall, testament to my craftiness- there's blue, yellow, a pirate flag, the gold fabric flag that used to be run on the Adobe contract when the queues were clear at night... I have a Mario mushroom on a stick that I qualified as a flag, gifted me by a manager leaving the contract. And by 'gifted' I mean 'abandoned'.

All around me, I hear the oh-so-familiar mumble of indistinct voices, the same jingle day in and out- 'can you verify your email address...?' 'First name? And the last name?' 'What product is this on, then?' The verbal idiosyncrasies of my coworkers ring clear and true to me. I am used to these people, but even more accustomed to seeing their faces on day, gone the next. Every one of these people has a story, and only a few of them will end here, I hope. Very seldom do I talk to anyone who wants to remain here indefinitely. I remember a time when I was happy to be here. And yes, there was such a time- I recall it distinctly.

But that time has long faded. I should have left when it did. I can hardly stand the sight of this place, the smell of the building, the way the floor trembles when someone walks by on the cheap flooring, the constant sound of calls pouring in, data being collected, so much information that it simply becomes meaningless... I hate the sound the phone makes when the customer comes on the line, the insistent and demanding "HELLO??" when they hear it connect... but most of all, I hate the sound of breathing.

Maybe it's strange, to hate such a thing. I understand that people need to breathe. Breathing is, after all, quite a necessary part of being alive as a human being. I know that it is an irrational hatred. But for me, it's too close, too intimate, to listen to a stranger breathe... I don't want to be that close, to feel the soft wind of their exhalation across my ear. And that's what it makes me think of. It makes me feel sick. This strange idea has gotten worse in the past few months, to the point where it is grating enough to have me squirming in my chair. My most dreaded call is not, in fact, the screamer who calls me a c***- although I hate that call, I will admit; no, it is the Mouth Breather. The person who is incapable of breathing through their nose. Maybe they are congested, maybe they have some sort of disorder, or maybe they're simply winded by how angry they are to be on the phone with me- there are many factors which can, combined or alone, create the Mouth Breather.

Most often, the Mouth Breather is plenty polite. They do not yell at me or shriek obscenities in my ear. No... they just breathe. Long, wheezing breaths. Sometimes the phone moves, and there's a hopeful rustle- and then, the breathing again. Like my very own personal Darth Vader, 'hooooooo-chuhhhhhhhhhhh... hoooooooooo-chuuhhhhhhhhh'....

But today is my last day here. No more Mouth Breathers... at least, not for a while.


This morning, I began packing the trunk of my car with things like my boxes of books. This has reassured me. I have many, many things... but so far, everything is fitting according to plan. I'm a little concerned about the size of RJ's suitcase- namely, I don't know exactly how big it is. We'll just have to play it by ear, I guess. I'm feeling like everything will work out fine, though... I mean, I have EXTRA space.

RJ gets here at five thirty AM. This is a glorious time of day I like to call 'butt-early o' clock'... yet I'm not really mad about having to wake up at four to be ready and to pick him up. In fact, I couldn't think of a better reason to get less than six hours of sleep.

I already have a Plan. I'm making him get in the shower first thing, and then it will be time to sleep for a few hours. After that, using the rest of the eggs in the refrigerator, and the rest of the whole grain pancake mix for a good breakfast... then it is off to my last Karate class, where Sensei Nick can evaluate RJ for himself, heh.

I suddenly feel unready to leave, now that I've left the call center for the last time. An unsureness that shakes me to my bones, but trust me, it is too late to turn back now. Not that I want to. Well, okay, part of me wants to. But I ignore that part of me. The fear will do me no good.

Tomorrow, I leave Portland.

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