Richard hated his job. It wasn’t the hours or tasks. It wasn’t even his coworkers that he hated. All of those things didn’t really matter to Richard. He was easy going and fairly “unflappable” per his friend Katrina’s apt description of the thirty-eight-year-old man. He liked coffee, old movies and to be left alone, generally. True he did enjoy a night at the bar with some friends or going to a movie on rare occasions, but really Richard just liked peace and quiet.
No, Richard was certain he did not hate his job for any of the usual reasons. Richard hated his job because he was just so, very bored. He worked for the HR department of a large international corporation, but not in the part of it that would have given him something interesting to do. No, rich was in “employee engagement,” as his contract read.
Every day he arrived at 7:57 am on the Blue line bus, took two minutes to enter the building and exchange an appropriate greeting with the receptionist, grab one cup of coffee as he passed through the kitchenette, to arrive at his cubicle at precisely 8:02 am. He would first read urgent emails, then research answers for said emails, and carefully write out each reply to be as painstakingly specific as possible to avoid confusion and thus cause him to have to answer even more urgent emails. He would take his lunch at exactly 11:30 am and be back at his desk at 12:30 to then answer urgent emails from the Asian branch of the company. Rich never remembered what he put in these emails. Technical specifications, company policy notes, canned answered passed down from people who were paid to care but didn’t. In the end, they all boiled down to the same routine. Read the question, find an answer, respond to question. Rinse. Repeat.
Some days, Richard even felt like a monkey with an extensive enough vocabulary as to understand the words “request denied” could do his job in an almost as effective manner as he could.
After 2:00pm, rich would have normally worked his way through the “urgent” emails and gotten down to the “Attention Required” emails. The process and questions didn’t change, only the standing of the people asking them. Instead of painstakingly crafting responses for VPs wanting to get the company to pay for their golf club membership during a conference, he was instead only carefully crafting responses to senior managers who wanted their girlfriends to accompany them on the next “team building” trip to the Bahamas that they had planned for their minions and them. Then he would have to not only answer that their girlfriend was not able to be written off as a company expense, but also that the Bahamas was not on the approved list of teams building exercise locations. Puerto Rico, sure, but not the Bahamas.
Rich would love to go to the Bahamas. He’d love to go anywhere really. He hadn’t taken a vacation in three years, except for two weeks each winter to visit his mother in her nursing home for Christmas and her birthday. He didn’t go to places or visit things. His home was possibly the only other place, more boring than his work, and he just never could build up the inclination to decorate it despite spending ninety percent of his off-hours there. He had, in his kitchen, four spoons, three forks, five plates, and two knives. His living room consisted of a large TV, one used sofa with a cracked middle cushion and a glass coffee table that he’d found on sale at the local Walmart one sunny afternoon the previous July while looking for carpet cleaner.
His bedroom followed much of the same sparsity, with a full-sized bed, on a standard rolling platform, an old plywood dresser which was missing the third drawer from the top, and a single mirror that Richard used every morning to tie his tie. He had a sparse collection of light blue and white shirts, black and grey slacks and an old university sweatshirt that he never could bring himself to get rid of. His “comfy” clothes consisted of two graphic t-shirts and one pair of basketball shorts, that he had never ever played Basketball in.
His routine at home mimicked much of his routine at work. Get home at 6:04, cook dinner, turn on the TV to whatever channel was last on. He’d then eat dinner, watching whatever show happened to be on. He’d finish eating, turn off the TV whether the show was finished or not, change clothes, put his work clothes from the day into the washing machine for a twenty seven minute wash cycle followed by a forty two minute drying cycle, hand up the clothes and then go to bed at exactly 9:27pm each night. The next day, he would get up at 5:47am, conduct necessary personal hygiene, eat a single piece of toast sans butter, and be back on the blue line bus by 7:04 am.
And so it was for Richard, every day, more or less the same as the last. Bored at work, bored at home, bored of his life, or rather, lack thereof. So maybe it wasn’t his job that he hated, but his whole life in general.
And so it was that at 11:35 on one particularly dull Tuesday, Richard finally decided he would do something different. So, instead of taking his usual one-hour lunch break to eat his usual ham and cheese on rye sandwich, Richard purchased a newspaper from the sidewalk vendor for $1.99, which he made sure to count out exactly. And as he searched the Want-ads while sitting at his desk, he saw something that made his heart do a little flip.
“Skydiving instructor wanted.
Hours and training flexible.
Apply at SupremeSkydivng.com”
Richard had never felt his heart do that before. He wasn’t quite sure what it meant? Maybe this was just what he needed? He’d always heard people talk about doing what their Hearts wanted, but he never had understood it. All Richard had ever felt his heart do was thump away in his chest roughly eighty times a minute. Ninety if he got really excited about something, which didn’t happen very often.
He quickly pulled up the webpage and looked it over. This is it, he was actually going to do it! He found the cool looking webpage, all smiling faces and hooting people as they perpetually plummeted towards the pavement. At the top there was a big blue banner ad that read:
“Instructors wanted! Click here to apply!”
And as he clicked, Richard felt his heart do another little flip. Yes, this was definitely right. He put in his information quickly, clicking from form to form as he filled out the job application. He was good at typing, since that’s pretty much all he did, day in and day out. He continued for several more minutes until finally… at long last, he saw it.
“SUBMIT APPLICATION” He felt the excitement rising in his chest as he pushed the mouse cursor over the big green button. His heart flipped again. No more day in and day out drudgery. From this moment everything would be different!
THIS WAS IT!
His heart flipped again, this time much stronger.
It HURT how much he wanted to push that big green button. He could feel it in his hands, his arms, his chest.
Finally, painfully, he clicked it. Richard then promptly fell out of his chair and proceeded with the heart attack that he’d been ignoring for the last ten minutes while thinking that his heart was telling him that jumping out of a plane for a living was a good idea.
“APPLICATION SUBMITTED!” was still upon his screen when the paramedics wheeled Richard’s body out of the office forty-five minutes later.