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Dead End Job (Rachel Leann Brooks-Lafayette, LA)


I go deep into my mind.


I observe my surroundings searching for inspiration.


I listen to the sounds that surround me here at work.

Buggies being shaken free,

The metal clanging.

Metal hangers scraping over metal racks.

Plastic bags crinkling as if crying out in revolt to the environment they threaten to destroy.


Children crying,

Pleading with their mothers for some overpriced piece of plastic,

Or begging them to leave.


I wish I could leave.

I wish I could just walk through those mechanical doors right now in the middle of my shift.

I wish I could get into my car and just go, and never return.

I wonder if I would go to my place.

I wonder if I would stay in this city for my remaining three years of academic growth and spiritual decay.

Or would I drive to the airport,

And board a plane for far-off adventures in some fantastical place?


My soul yearns for the latter,

For freedom and excitement,

For the breaking of the steel and concrete chains

That distort, restrain, and essentially define my existence.


But unfortunately for me,

As well as for the rest of the general population,

The chains are made of another material: Money.

Whether it be colored paper or shining metals,

It is the core sustenance of most of our population's existence.

Love can be as strong as titanium,

Courage, as mighty as the lion,

But money...

Money gives us food.

It provides us with shelter and protection.


I needed money for my car.

I need money for the gasoline to drive myself to the airport.

I need money to purchase the ticket to put me on the plane.

I need money for a place to stay and food to eat once I arrive at a destination.


And all of this...

Well, all of this would require much more money than staying here for a few more years.

But even this costs us everything we have.


Our employers...

No, our government

Seems to have the right to tell us if we are or are not worth the price it costs for us to live.


For me to have money for food and shelter,

And for transportation to and from this dismal job...

I must keep this dismal job.

I cannot walk out of those doors at this moment and never return.

I must wait until the end of my ten-hour shift,

Get as much of the little sleep I can get,

Try to write an important essay for a class I can hardly pay attention in,

And I must return tomorrow to start the cycle over again.


I must keep this track playing on repeat,

Just like the infernal playlist of overly-positive songs playing over and over and over and over again on a daily basis here at this place that I hate to be.


I must keep going until the next Friday when I receive the money paid to me in the amount that my government thinks my hard work and torment are worth.

An amount that is gone before the next week begins.

An amount that may or may not be enough to pay for the roof over my head and the food in my stomach for that month.


At this rate, I will never be able to go to far-away lands

Because right now,

My government does not think a college student from a middle-class family is worth anything more...

In fact, often less,

Than earning the basic human needs.


Is there any way to escape this and have our government deem me worthy of living comfortably?

Well, right now, there is one possibility that gives me at least a higher chance.


If I can manage to evenly split my focus and energy between work and academia—

No easy feat for an attention deficit adult who may soon be unable to afford her medication, mind you—

Then I can finish my education,

As long as I can maintain the few scholarships awarded to me,

And I can eventually begin my hopeful career,

That is, if my employers find my commitment and struggle worthy of the paper they print their payroll on.


And if,

By some miraculous balancing of the universe's—

No, the economist's equation,

These plans actually pan out,

Only then will I be seen as worthy of the comforts of the life that we all deserve.

Only then will I be able to buy a plane ticket and visit some fantastical place,


But even then,

I cannot escape the gripping confines of a world ravaged by the paper and metals born to it naturally, and polluted and convoluted by the greed of my destructive species that poisoned this world long after its birth.


But being born of this earth, nonetheless,

We naturally have a right to survival,

And it is because of this that we fight the consensus of our politicians,

And we fight to afford living.


But we don't fight valiantly.

Most of us don't even fight the rulings made.

What we fight is anxiety,

And we fight depression.

We fight the loathing for our daily lives

As we pull ourselves out of our beds

And go to the dulling jobs that dissolve our soul like bitter salt in pure water.


It is because I must fight,

That for now,

I must get into my car tomorrow morning,

Walk through the mechanized doors,

Put on my name tag,

And begin another shift of pondering why the Hell I came in today.


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