I always wanted to do something that mattered. I didn’t think it was too much to ask. The world needs a lot of changing and it needs young people to put the work in, solving problems and getting to the issues. I wanted to teach and help save the world.
I was going to change the world with technical manuals for mid-range accounting software.
However, my contribution to humanity through haphazardly contracted “readme.txts” was not to be. I suppose the universe had decided this goal was perhaps too lofty and set to put me in my place. It seems pride came before a fall as I sat in a meeting with the product team one morning. The product manager was a humorless middle-aged woman with some sort of speech impediment that restrained her voice from any modulation or intonation. She sounded not unlike a fax machine or an old dial up modem. She called the meeting to go over new installation procedures.
“We’ve changed the installation process to make it briefer. One of the changes will include an option to view the enhancement lists instead of requiring users to view the list. The users will have to request that the program show them enhancements instead of viewing them automatically.”
I raised my hand, “So I still write the enhancement lists?”
“But they don’t even have to read them?”
“That’s correct,” the product manager faxed. My boss, somehow managing to focus beyond what I assume was a running loop of 1930s cartoons in her brain, glared at me.
“In other words, they’ll actually have to go out of their way to read any of this? They can totally get away with not reading it? The stuff that takes ages to edit because if just a single bullet point is out of line it is the worst thing since the Trail of Tears?”
I may not have said that last part out loud.
The product manager paused and looked at me before continuing her atonal monologue.
I totally get that I am lucky to have a job in this economy, let alone two. This is not lost on me. It’s rough out there. I also know that decades ago, for some people, the best thing they could do was a job installing doors on Fords for 35 years while they put two kids through college. I’m really trying not to be a whiner here.
There’s gotta be something better than a life that means less than nothing, though.
When I got back to my desk I smiled at my two teammates. They didn’t look up. We all have our own products and actually never need to speak with each other. They’re both around my age. Sarah barely even works on our team and has a terrible blog about interior decorating. Rick doesn’t talk to anyone in the office unless it’s about Halo. I thought a bunch of young writers would be friendlier. But that might make the day pleasant, so I’m sure the universe saw fit to remove that possibility a well.
Sarah and I had a bit of an incident last week.
Again, a meeting. The documentation manager, who I’m sure, had just decided a Zen garden was too psychologically demanding of her, called me into one of the lofty company meeting rooms. Sarah entered a few minutes later from a different entrance. My boss attached her computer to the projector and brought up Sarah’s Twitter.
It looked liked Sarah’s Twitter anyway. It was, in fact, a detailed catalogue of many of my many failings. “I hate the way Bianca does her hair.” “Nice bra, bitch. Why don’t you die?” “I fucking hate this asshole girl across from me.” On and on.
I sat in stunned silence.
Sarah burst into tears. Boss lady said something about it not being appropriate. She didn’t seem angry, more like annoyed that she had to make anyone especially me, feel better. She suggested Sarah should apologize and left the room.
Sarah reached for a tissue to wipe her eyes.
Don’t tell her to go fuck herself yet, I thought.
“All I can say is I’m sorry,” she finally said through sobs.
I was silent. There was a sick feeling in my stomach and lungs. I wanted to yell at her.
“I have a lot going on in my personal life right now,” she said.
Oh, fuck you.
I almost lost it there and walked out and never came back. It was then I officially hated this job, ruined economy or no ruined economy.
The other Bianca, the maybe-the-fake Bianca, and the Bianca I was at night started screaming at this crying little shit.
“You’ve got personal issues? Why don’t you fuck off sideways, asshole? Do you know what I do at night? Let’s make a goddamn list of ‘personal issues’ and compare. I have sex with old, fat dudes. For money. What you got, bitch? Yeah, we all have personal issues. Most of us manage not to act like horrible douchebags on Twitter though.”
But I wasn’t that Bianca, so I squeaked out, “I forgive you,” and walked back to my desk. I think I finally managed to exhale about an hour or so later when the clock struck five.
The best part of the day is cycling around the city. It’s terrifying and electric. Toronto is so awesome when it comes out of winter. I honestly thought spring might not come this year and we’d just have white noise from April until October. But there’s warmth in the air now, and a feeling like people are finally waking up. People are getting itchy and want to sit on patios with their hard lemonade.
I wanted to ride my bike without a down coat on and go to the beach and pretend my life was better. I couldn’t help but compare the two people I was. One seemed to be having a lot more fun than the other. I started to think this whole “contributor to society” gig may have been overrated. I thought of Kelly, my escort friend who was able to focus on herself, party and take care of her pets without dealing with any bullshit. It was becoming harder and harder to understand why I couldn’t have the same life.
When Conor came home that day, I told him all about Sarah’s personal issues that caused her to be an asshole.
“If you don’t like it, quit,” he said nonchalantly.
I had thought about quitting many times. It seemed decadent to me to throw away a perfectly good job in the middle of a recession. Just as a note, I still considered my job “perfectly good.”
“Work on your novel,” was his next contribution as my ad hoc guidance counselor.
Ah the big novel. The novel that was out of this world, in so far as it had no physical reality. It had been rattling around in my head for a few years and I never had the balls to actually dedicate some time to it.
“I think if my first novel was financed by prostitution, I’d probably kill myself,” I replied.
“How do you think old timey lady writers did it?” he asked, sincerely enough to give me pause.
The conversation was luckily broken up by a call that I needed to get ready for. It was for a duo with Kelly, who I enjoyed being with. She always makes me laugh, or at least knows where we can get some cocaine.
The driver arrived 40 minutes later and I said goodbye to Conor, promising him that I’d be back later in the night, hopefully before he went to bed. Kelly was already in the car when I got downstairs.
“Hey babe,” she said enthusiastically. Kelly and I are a great doubles pair. We know each other’s boundaries, which are minimal, and preferences, which are voluminous.
The Cambridge Suites is one of the few hotels downtown that still has minibars. This is a disturbing trait, by the way. What kind of world are we living in when you have to leave your room for booze and Toblerone?
The client, Ken, was a thin Japanese businessman, celebrating his divorce. Even though both Kelly and I are bisexual, we always try to perform as little as possible in doubles calls. More often than not, like most encounters with escorts, the client psyches himself out and the experience is as never as good as he imagined it would be.
It’s true of bought-and-paid-for threesomes as much as it’s true about anything else. It’s never as good as you think it’s going to be.
“Do you want to party afterwards?” Kelly winked. I replied with the most enthusiastic “yes” I possibly could. I needed this day to be a gray spot in my memory.
Kelly lives in a junior one bedroom in Liberty Village with her two dogs. She is very, very causally training to be a registered massage therapist, taking one class a week. It’s expected to take a few years at the rate she is going, but she likes her life and traveling and sleeping in until noon whenever she wants. Most of all, I think Kelly likes cocaine.
She poured some powder out of a tiny plastic envelope. Where do you buy those tiny bags anyway? I mean the ones that look like Ziplocs for Smurfs. Is there a coke dealer supply store out in the suburbs somewhere? Next to Michaels and Best Buy?
Thoughts like that came hard and fast over the next few hours. Kelly talked non-stop while I sat quietly having equally rapid conversations with myself in my head. It was strange that my face had been in Kelly’s most intimate parts not a few hours earlier and now we were sitting on her balcony sipping Pinot Gris in our coats, doing coke and smoking.
Whenever I made a joke, Kelly laughed. She is a good friend. It’s hard for me to have friends, even harder to make them in this job, and I suddenly felt grateful that I was there with her. The dogs whined, and Kelly suggested we take them for a walk. She lent me some flats and we each grabbed a leash after doing the final line of the package.
I had no idea how I was going to sleep, much less get up for work in the morning. Hours had passed since I told Conor I was going to be home. If Kelly had wanted to kiss me, right there in front of the Bikram yoga place where the dog pooped, I wouldn’t have stopped her. I was going to be nice again.