Ayer is a dismal town. And I was in a dismal apartment in that dismal town, under dismal circumstances. Compared to Groton, the town next door, it was an alternative universe. Bizarro. Gritty was what I would call it. I was there to do penance and lick my wounds after an epic fail. A fail administered by my own hand. I have a habit of knocking down my own sand castles when it suits me.
In my thirty-odd years at “The Company” I was hard to manage. I kept having epiphanies. I kept trying to sweeten the pot to whoever would listen. Sometimes, they listened. I was afforded a lot of opportunities. I had a lot of jobs. Some, I created. But it seems it was never enough. I kept trying to make it up as I went along. I was in plays, musical endeavors, even put out a safety record. But still, my Jones kept coming down on me. Everything, all the time.
I resigned three times. The last time, for good. First time, I damn near doubled my salary. The second time, I tripled it. At least! Didn’t sit well with the V.P. of Sales at the time. Captain Queeg if there ever was one. He could make goldfish turn on each other. I was making more than him as a video consultant, so you can imagine.
Still, I was never quite satisfied. When I was told my name kept coming up in the Executive Board Room, over how much money I was making, I doubled down and threatened to quit. Loudly. I could feign outrage with the best. You could hear me all over the executive offices. Ha! Bite me! It worked. The finance guy got a kick out of me. Then he paid me.
The last time I quit there was nothing to spoil over. They went from streaming live video around the world, to using a flip chart. Mr. Rogers had to keep turning the chart so everyone in the cafeteria could see it. Tick…tick! I kept my car running in the parking lot. When I went out that gate the last time, I didn’t even turn around.
So now I’m walking down Main Street in Ayer with my little dog. Cold and broke. I walk by a hair salon and look in the window and who do I see in a waiting chair, but I guy I used to pick up the phone with back in the day. He’s still there. Now, it’s beginning to snow. It’s starting to trickle down my neck but I can’t move. I study him close. I’m transfixed. He’s grayer, heavier, more placid. I look in his eyes. Nothing. It’s just another day for him.
He was a good guy, always did what he was told. Towed the company line. His wife works there too. He’s got a bunch of kids and he’ll probably go down with the ship. But at least he belongs somewhere. He didn’t detonate his security. He’s not coming up with big, uncomfortable ideas.
But I know where he’s been every fucking day of his life for the last forty years. Is that a price I was willing to pay? Not so much. Poor guy, I thought.
I picked up my slushy little dog and headed back to my cramped quarters to plan my escape. It was time for a new plan. Was it ever.