"Boredom: (Adjective) an emotional state experienced by those who have been left without anything in particular to do, or have no interest in their surroundings."
Hmmm. Well well well welly welly well.
"Boredom"- maybe you feel that you can share an experience with me on this one; hold a candle next to mine in fellowship and say 'it's alright mate, I understand. I've been there. I know.' Maybe you believe you've held down an especially dull job at some point; perhaps one equal in terms of dullness to mine. Maybe ... maybe.
Well, let me just alleviate you of that paradigm right fucking now: NO YOU HAVEN'T. Until you've worked in a factory environment, trust me on this one, you don't know what boring is. You might have tricked yourself into a passable impression of boredom at one time or another, but that holds about as much weight as a helium fart as far as I'm concerned. Your job was a birthday, Christmas, and VE Day rolled into one in comparison to my summer serfdom. Ten minutes in the biscuit factory and you'd pray to Christ almighty for an hour in San Quentin. You've scaled only the meanest foothills of the doldrums, thinking yourselves heroes of alpinism, while vast, Olympian heights of tedium tower further afield. For I alone among the ranks of mortal men have stared unblinking into the uttermost depths of abyss and survived, shaken and disturbed, to share my grim account with humanity ...
So in the last post I mentioned the awful working hours, the dire pay, the long drive and the unpleasant smell; all legitimately unpleasant aspects of an unpleasant job. But each and every one of these minor issues pales before the unapologetic dreariness of the daily grind. Now some people cope well with monotony: they are skilled in and comforted by repetitive tasks, those labors which keep idle hands busy and the mind blissfully unburdened. I get it.
I know I must sound like the most disgusting snob to have ever drawn breath, but I'm honestly not trying to sound elitist when I tell you that, from the well of my soul, I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. I'm easily distracted, I find focusing on uninteresting things insurmountably difficult, and I deal with stressful situations by running away from them and hiding until they magically diffuse themselves. None of those attributes are particularly savory to the prospective employer I'll grant you, but on the frantic factory floor it makes you as valuable as a paraplegic ballerina.
|(You can forget about Mariinsky theatre Natalie!)|
Of course, in the grand tradition of the sadistic farce I like to call 'My Life' I didn't realize this until it was too late. Apparently my brain is like a petulant spoiled child; if it isn't being amused or diverted it throws a tantrum. Repetitive tasks do not a happy Hendo make. As a result, my new job soon felt like one of the more ironic hells that Dante kept in reserve for particularly loathsome sinners.
I worked chiefly in packaging: which is exactly the sum total of what the word entails. I constructed boxes by folding flat-packed cardboard, standing up, eight hours a day, five days a week. Let me break the process down for you:
1: Quickly pick up cardboard from the seven-foot-tall mountain on your right, making doubly sure to have it facing the right way up.
2: Fold cardboard into cuboid shape, using instructions provided, with the bottom of the newly-engineered box resting against the small desk in front of you.
(Note: failure to rest the bottom of a newly-engineered box against a small desk will leave the incoming biscuits unsupported, with the entirety of your product spilling onto the floor, leaving you looking like a dopey preschool twat. The more you know!)
3: Nab eight biscuit packets from the conveyor belt to your left.
4: Neatly stack biscuit packets in the newly-engineered box, in a pair of four. Again, all facing exactly the correct way.
(Note: for the love of Cthulhu and all his spawn you'd better have your biscuits stacked the correct way, because if you don't it will be literally impossible for humanity to ever contemplate enjoying a biscuit again. Shoddy stacking will irrevocably sully the experience for everyone forever. Society itself will collapse into anarchy if those biscuits aren't stacked like the bricks of the fucking Parthenon, you'd better believe it.)
5: Place box back on assembly line to be sellotaped shut.
6: Do all of this, like a robot, in less than ten seconds.
7: Lose the will to live.
8: Contemplate the pros and cons of a shooting spree
9: Repeat ad nauseam, until the sweet release of death.
Not exactly spellbinding is it? Not unless we're referring to the Cruciatus Curse of course; then you're hitting the nail right on the head. Into the victim's eye socket. It was the apotheosis of monotony. The only way this would be an engaging vocation would be if I'd been born in a basement, and had spent the last 20 years in total darkness, eating flies.
|(Boxes: fascinating shit, yeah?)|
|(Come on, get licking)|
As you can see, after a fortnight of all this, I genuinely started to go a bit mental. I conducted my various duties in a slack-jawed, zombie-like stupor, perceiving the farcical tableau as though through smeared lens, or dense fog. Instructions barked at me were muted to inaudibility. At times it felt like my feet had lifted off the ground and the world had dropped away from me. Gradually, inevitably, I retreated inside myself to escape it all. At one point in the midst of my industry, my routine became so repetitive, that I experienced the epiphany that each individual moment of my life was now utterly indistinguishable from those proceeding and following it. It was an almost perfect display of recursion. Locked in the ever-shrinking cage of my own brain, I realised that, since physicists tend to define the passage of time as being dependent on the movement or transfer of energy, or a change in the state of matter, I conjectured that since each of the various reactions and operations surrounding me, observable or not, were identical; I had essentially entered a state of mind in which the clocks had stopped, the hands frozen, the gears ground to a halt. Inside my own skull I held time suspended.
It was times like those when I sincerely considered whether amateur lobotomy would make my new-found career more bearable. In any case, it might've been comparatively less painful.
|(Pictured: the only escape)|
|(Irritation personified if you ask me)|
Most insane of all was Gordon; a 6 ft 2 man of perhaps fifty, who also happened to be a sufferer of Tourettes Syndrome. And I'm not talking the oh-so-comical TV Tourettes either; I'm talking about the Tourettes with the tics, jitters, stutters and spasms to boot. He was like a half-rusted clockwork toy, sprung jerkily into a shambling parody of animation. His motion wasn't so much a stride as a series of sudden falls indefinitely postponed. He marched from A to B and back again like something out of the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch, always on edge and unsettled. He had this strange compulsion to keep himself moving at all times, like a shark or something.
|(He was nothing like this, really)|
|(Picture this, on a Hurricane Katrina scale)|
|("Yup, it's a box alright.")|
|(Shit man, in the factory the bucket and mop were more valuable than me)|
|(Always sympathetic ... unless there's bacon on the go)|
(This week I've been reading Jane Austen's 'Sense and Sensibility.' It was alright. Didn't like it as much as 'Pride and Prejudice'. Not as witty. Protagonist's were less interesting ... What? Christ I've been revising this thing for days people! I've said everything I want to say in past-papers! Give me a break already! Jeez.)
|(On an unrelated note, check the cleavage on Marianne there. Crickey!)|