Just do it
Rain starts to fall, scattering across the thin pages of the cheap, paperback I am making the pretence of reading. In truth I meander as though the pages were without words, as though the closely knitted pulp stretched out endlessly in every direction.
I travel from exotic, erotic threesomes to remembering I need a new toothbrush and then further to ‘oh god I'm still on page 5 and have been on lunch for almost 45 minutes’. It doesn’t take long, however, for me to remember that it doesn't matter how many pages I’ve read, I’m not at university anymore and so there is no time limit on my explorations.
I feel the reluctant throbbing in both my temples suggesting I should lug myself from the comfort of this damp wooden bench and back towards the bridge, over the bridge and into the red-brick office building that houses the dreams of no one and the reality of many.
I toy with the possibility of walking past the office to the car park, getting into my black Renault Clio with its familiar parcel-taped wing- mirror and driving home, then sending an email from my new work phone to say that I had been violently sick from my M&S egg sandwich and could see no option but to make my way home as soon as possible. However, it becomes immediately obvious that 'home' as I have reluctantly taken to calling my small, uninspiring flat which hangs above Budgens is of no more appeal than the office. At least work offers a modicum of human interaction in the form of the new intern, who occasionally and timidly offers me a cup of coffee before disappearing for an overly prolonged period and returns smelling like cigarettes without any coffee or an apology. This doesn't bother me greatly, coffee is overrated and his disappearance gives me an opportunity to look at Facebook and see all the photos of vaguely recognisable people, being more vibrant, attractive and intelligent than they ever were when i actually knew them.
I am leaving in a week. The office that is. I have a new job in London, the big lights of the city, same job title – Senior Account Executive- but at a much bigger agency, pretty much the biggest one. At the age of 23, my parents are very proud and my friends suitably jealous, whilst my girlfriend, I think, finds it slightly less preferable. She recently moved to London from her family home and I think she believes I have changed job so that I can see her more often. This both reiterates how terrible this relationship is and how incorrect she is. The relationship is terrible because she is so averse to the idea of seeing me more than she currently does (not very often) and she is wrong because I changed jobs for the simple reason that I thought I might as well, I mean why not?
I do not live for work, but so you know that I am not a walking cliché, I also don’t work to live. I just do what everybody else does. I don’t do it because I care about it. I don’t do it because I love it. I just do it. Not in the Nike sense, I am not a man of American determination or dreaming. I just do it because there isn’t anything else to do that is any more…well, any more..anything really. I mean it’s all the same really, isn’t it? So I just do the things that present themselves in the order that they occur whilst each second ticks by.
The water machine here produces very cold water at a very slow pace, drooling from its small hole and making a noise as it clashes with itself in the luke warm glass placed below. It seems to congeal, thickening, glooping as though it were transparent oil, sticking to the back of my throat as I sip it. I imagine choking on it, the intern desperately trying to perform the Heimlich as my uneventful life comes to its innocuous conclusion with only a nervous, fat boy as its final witness.
‘He died choking on ice cold water having taken rather too large a gulp. The overweight boy tried to save him, but the fat restricted his arm movement and so his Heimlich was ineffective. It appears that your son did not really resist the advances of the water that swirled thickly around his epiglottis and nor did he appear to welcome it, instead he just sort of let it rest there and that was it.’
This is what I imagine the junior consultant would tell my parents as they sat and wept at the loss of their unremarkable child. Alas, I don’t choke on my water, I just drink it.