Wake up, eat, sleep, and repeat.
Pick up the phone, greet customer, listen to complaint after complaint after complaint, fix problem, end call, and repeat. Do it over and over again, five days a week.
Get paid a disappointing salary that is barely enough to buy gas for your cheap car, and keep butter and bread in the creaky fridge. Repeat until you retire at 65, or until you drop dead onto the cold, hard Earth. No time for a minute to breathe in oxygen peacefully, enjoy socialization with close friends and family --- not customers. Hungry for some gourmet shrimp and red wine, kisses by the salty beach, just about anything away from the call center.
Luckily, it’s 1:03pm, and Meg and Miles are due for their post-lunch ritual. After eating yet another dry and stinky tuna fish sandwich, Meg goes and retouches her brown locs and light makeup in the dingy women’s bathroom. As she corners the area of the bathrooms, Meg gets spooked by June Andrews, the 200 year old woman who loves her cats more than her own 4 adult children. June Andrews isn’t an annoying cat lady like she appears to be in her knitted sweaters riddled with tiny cat heads, June is an icon. At least she is considered an icon at the call center she has been working for since 1990. She’s the longest running Call Attendant at Rogue Blue Contact Center. She’s also been married to her husband for 45 years, and owns 9 fluffy cats. A lot of the woman in the call center admire her, not for working at a crap call center for more than 25 years, though that is a strong feat, but for being married to her devoted husband for so long, and being one heck of a confident woman.
Meg hopes her marriage with Miles lasts 45 years; a loving relationship, maybe some kids, a small pet or two, and a nice house in a safe neighbourhood with tolerable neighbours. That might take some time, but she’s working towards that hope.
“Meg, nice bumping into ya. How’s your day going? Going for a number one or number two?” June snorts.
Meg ignores the last part and pulls out her makeup zipper pouch, “Good. Good. Just the same old, same old.”
Meg deeply dislikes small talk, especially at work where she is constantly in code switch mode. However, her conversations with June are mostly eventful.
After Meg awkwardly converses with June in the bathroom while June did her very loud business, she rushes out to meet her husband at their busted Honda Civic in the staff parking lot.
She smiles when she sees him leaning against the hood of the car, in all his tired beauty. The way his skin glows in the burning sun takes her breath away, and his protruding muscles seen through the sleeves of his navy blue dress shirt. His fierce eyes watch intently as Meg approaches the car, slinging her handcrafted tote bag.
“There’s my stunning wife!”
“Wow, I’m surprised you waited for me before you started a light.”
“I was about to; I’m stressed as heck today. But, I started thinking of you…”
Meg blushes like schoolgirl, resting her head in his chest.
“Light it up?” Miles asks.
“Light it up,” Meg responds.
A quick stretch into his back pocket, and Miles holds the silver lighter his Grandfather gifted to him for his 22th birthday.
Listen to me boy; I don’t want you using this to smoke dope, cigs, nothing like that. You hear me?
Miles didn’t listen; he was too busy being bludgeoned with the stress and fatigue of becoming an independent adult.
He lights the white and brown cigarette, and inhales deeply, “Peace of mind…”
Meg makes herself comfortable on the hood of the car and Miles comforting arms.
“June takes loud dumps, you know,” Meg shares.
“No, nope, I didn’t need to know that Meg.”
Her laugh vibrates on his shirt. She snatches the cigarette hanging from his lips.
They share a deep sigh as the heat of the sun starts to melt their skin. The parking lot is dead, with a few stragglers rushing back from their lunch break, not wanting to get berated by their greedy boss. By the northwest end of the parking lot sits the expensive and eye-catching cars that are owned by the higher ups. You won’t catch any of the Call Attendants driving one of those, unless they leave Rogue Blue for a job that actually pays them like real human beings who need to support themselves.
“Gas prices have gone insane. Like, at this point, I’m going to visit a witch and have her grant me the power of flight.”
“Then let’s take the bus instead, its way more environmentally friendly,” Meg suggests.
“She says as she takes a puff from her cancer stick.”
Meg playfully hits his arm then moves off the hood to face him square.
“I can’t wait to go home, today has felt like 12 hours, and it’s only been 5. What do you want for dinner?”
Miles ponders on the question, “Do we have enough to eat out?”
“Oh, don’t remind me, I still have to pay the rent and the water bill.”
Miles senses her frustration, as she not only works at the Call Center, but has a side job as a seamstress at her aunties tailoring and design store. Miles has also been doing ride share driving to help bring more dollars into their income.
“Freaking capitalism,” Miles says under his breath.
“Freaking life,” Meg echoes. “How many kids do you want?”
Miles eyes shoot up from the concrete and onto Meg’s belly.
“Meg, you hate children.”
“No, I said I hate the thought of giving birth. I don’t think I could do it, so I would rather adopt or something.”
“Did you hit your head or something, why are you out of the blue asking about kids?”
“Do you ever listen to me? I’ve mentioned it before, haven’t I?”
“Sorry,” Miles steals the cigarette from her hand.
Silence hangs in the cloudy air.
“You will be an amazing mother,” Miles says as his arms wrap around Meg’s torso.
“Yeah, but I can’t give a child the life I want to give them. Not with this job, not like this Meg,” Meg points at herself.
Miles takes a drag, “So, let’s quit.”
Meg eyebrows furrow, “Excuse me?”
“Let’s walk back into the building, go straight up in Mr. Williams face, and tell him to go suck it, and walk right out with our stuff.”
“We do this every damn week, Meg! Aren’t you tired of working at this mundane job that barely even supports one of us, let alone the both of us? When I married you three years ago, I wanted everyday with you to be like a dream you never want to wake up from. Instead, it’s a nightmare of random strangers yelling at us through phones, Meg. We deserve better than this. We are too good for ugly dread.”
Before Meg could even respond, the murmured sound of a woman cut their intimate time short.
June, with her thin, grey hair on display, walks right up to the hood of the couple’s car, and takes a box of Marlboro out of her green, skirt pocket.
“This freaking place,” her words barely coming out of her gritted teeth. “I have given so much of my life to this place. Too much. What am I even still doing here?”
She angrily strikes a match against the box, never facing Meg and Miles surprised faces.
“You know, I should just go in there, spit in his face, and—“
“Tell him to go suck it.”
June points her veiny finger at Miles, “Exactly. Oh, and tell him that he can rot in hell.”
Meg is too stunned to speak; her eyes are wide open in shock. How did June go from sweet cat lady, to enraged woman who wants to spit in her boss’s face?
Miles passes the cigarette to Meg. “You should do it June. You’re all fired up and in the best state of mind to give him a piece of your mind.”
“Miles, stop it! Why are you encouraging her?”
“Open your eyes; I’m not the only one that sees were being played by the game of capitalism at Rogue Blue.”
Meg rolls her eyes and glances at her withered, leather watch. The sun is less intense as light grey clouds appear to hide the light.
“Our break is up,” Meg says as she straightens her lavender cardigan. Meg doesn’t even look to her husband or June when she squishes the cancer stick between the ground and her loafers, and walks back to the dull building.
Miles trails behind her, “Meg, love, please don’t be like that.”
“Young love, you have a whole road ahead of you full of bumps and potholes. This is the pothole. Don’t waste your time here, don’t stay any longer and sink, do not do it. Find an empty road and drive in your own clear lane. Please, I’m begging you! Don’t stay!”
June stares off into the distance of the busy roads, smoke slightly exiting her thin lips. “Don’t miss out on living a good life. Don’t listen to what the world tells you to do. It isn’t worth it.”
But Miles and Megan are already inside the building, and June Andrews stands alone, talking to the breeze. A salty tear rolls down the cheek of her regretful face.