The sun beat down at a blistering 98 degrees, leaving Mila’s skin feeling wet and sticky and her hair a giant mess of frizz. The humidity never agreed with her, but no matter how hot it was, she still felt the need to go outside for her 15 minutes of almost freedom. It was as close to an escape as she could get.
Escape. How could she escape? Maybe she could find a buyer for one of her paintings? If she could make money that way, she wouldn’t have to keep coming back to this dreadful place, day in and day out. But, in order to sell her paintings, she would actually have to take time to finish them.
Ugh, but I have so much to do! She thought. Painting took a lot of time, concentration and creative energy; and after squeezing out every ounce of her soul at this dead end job each day, she never felt up to it any more.
What a waste, she thought. Thousands of dollars spent on a college degree in studio art, and she wasn’t doing anything even remotely creative. Just sitting at a desk, answering phones, taking down messages, and operating a switch board. And the phones were always ringing. And it always seemed like she was the only one answering.
What happened to her dreams of creating masterpieces? Of designing characters for Disney movies? Her desire to be somebody?
She glanced at her watch. Two more minutes and they’d be expecting her back. Two more minutes and her little escape would be over.
She couldn’t take it anymore. It was all she could do to keep herself from walking out and never coming back. But then her bills wouldn’t get paid, and she’d be out on the streets. A starving artist’s lifestyle was never a life she could see herself living. She liked having a car, and a place to live. She liked going to happy hour with her friends and going shopping on the weekends. Money was not something she could easily give up.
She was a sell-out. She traded her dreams for security.
She wiped the sweat from her forehead and stood up lazily, her body slumped over even as she stood. She slowly began walking toward the door, anxiously awaiting the air conditioning, but dreading it at the same time.
She hated her job. She hated talking to people and being on the phone. She hated putting on a fake smile and pretending to be friendly. All she ever wanted was a job where she could sit somewhere quietly by herself and focus on her work without being interrupted.
Why was that so difficult? Every job that she felt she was qualified for, wanted more than just an educational background in art. They wanted experience. Years of experience that she could never get because all the jobs that don’t require experience were already taken. Or, they just didn’t exist.
Mila let out a big sigh of relief as the air blew in her face when she entered the building. She looked around at the little office where she worked and made her way back to her desk. The phones were still ringing. They were always ringing.
“Thank you for calling Safe Net, how can I help you,” she said with a smile as she silently hated herself.
“I have some questions about my bill. I think I was charged too much,” said the voice on the other end.
“Oh, I’m sorry about that sir. Let me transfer you to our finance and accounting department. One moment please.” She pushed the transfer button and dialed the extension for finance and accounting, then promptly hung up.
The phone rang again. “Thank you for calling Safe Net, how may I assist you today?” Over and over and over. The same thing every day. The same questions every day. The same dumb people who feel the need to complain about things all the time.
Maybe the reason they complained was because they were all miserable human beings, working at dead end jobs that they were forced into so they could pay their bills.
Was this really her life? Was this what she would have to look forward to for the rest her days? Was this all anyone ever had to look forward to for the rest of their lives? Misery?
It couldn’t be so? But all of her friends hated their jobs too. Every one she knew was basically unhappy. But it couldn’t be like that for everyone, could it? She wondered if Oprah hated her job sometimes too.
Five o’clock finally rolled around and Mila packed up her stuff to go home for the day. This was it. She had finally had it. As soon as she got home, she would begin looking for a new job. She would try to find the energy to work on one of her paintings. She would skip the gym and skip happy hour. She couldn’t keep living this life.
Mila put her car in reverse and backed out of her parking space to begin the rush hour commute. She hated traffic. Traffic made everything in life worse. It would be six thirty by the time she got home and then she’d have to figure out dinner since she wasn’t going to happy hour tonight.
What would she have for dinner? She thought about it for a moment. There may have been some frozen fish stick in the freezer. She could have that and a bowl of macaroni. That sounded simple enough.
Mila parked her car in the farthest spot from her little apartment. All the other ones were taken. She carried her things inside and threw them on the ground before plopping down on the couch. For a while, she just sat there. The relief of finally being home surged through her body, leaving her in a euphoric-like state. Then, hunger won her over and she made her way to the kitchen. She put on a pot of boiling water and pulled the fish sticks out of the freezer.
Twenty minutes later she was on the couch in front of the TV with her dinner on her lap, catching up on a few of her favorite TV shows.
This is nice, she thought. I haven’t had me time in a while. She leaned back into the sofa and relaxed, pushing her empty dish aside. She allowed her eyes to fall shut for a moment. When she opened them again, it was 10:30. She had fallen asleep.
Mila turned off the TV and sleepily made her way into the bedroom. I’ll work on all that stuff tomorrow, she thought. Or maybe Thursday. After all, she didn’t want to miss hump day happy hour. Wednesday was always the best day for happy hour.