She and Him

The First Bit

She lives for her job and cigarettes alone. Even though her doctor has, on more than one occasion, warned her that both of these things threaten to kill her, the prospect of life beyond this line of work and a life without cigarettes is enough to send her heart off on one of ‘those all-too-familiar-episodes’. Her interview for this entry level position fell on her 21st birthday, a piece of personal trivia she’s all too ready to share with every new client she talks to over the phone.

She hasn’t looked back since then. Her job has shaped her more than she’s shaped it, even though it was she who, along with our current CEO, created the position in her own image on her twentieth anniversary with the company; she breathes this work deeply, only stopping for five minutes every hour on the hour to enjoy the first five to six dregs of a hastily ignited Benson and Hedges Slim before extinguishing it into a puddle, or reluctantly passing it off to the bums who hang out beside our office.

It’s been 26 years and five month’s worth of coin since her fateful, twenty first birthday; she tells us so every afternoon, even though we do our best to ignore her raspy reminder. To us, at least, she’s become omnipresent.

But when she’s not here, the office is different; it’s comparatively calm. People talk about their lives in detail. For instance, I’ve never been to Allie’s house but I know that the baseboards behind her on suite toilet are painted yellow: her neck was stiff last Wednesday because she had painted them that colour late Tuesday evening after her first born child finally fell asleep. And while Allie’s pretty stoked to finally own her own home, it seems like a lot of work and a lot of pain.

Allie’s been with the company for over half a decade. According to her, her very sanity dangles precariously upon the thin thread of an upcoming mat-leave which she and her husband have planned to take effect by mid-November. We talk, I know.

Me, I’m a courier. I’m not usually so forthcoming about my profession as I never learned to ride a bike. People always ask me if I ride a bike when I tell them what I do: I don’t ride a bike. I walk and I drive the company car around town, delivering and picking up time-sensitive documents. It sounds worse than it is. It’s the best job I’ve had since moving to this island, let me tell you why.

The Second Bit

I’m cut from a strange ilk. The grandson of two Methodist preachers, my fate was handed to me before I screamed my first scream: I too, was to preach. I grew up within the strict confines of my inherited Church’s drywalled, white-walls. My first word, though it counts as a pronoun and a low scoring one at that in most Scrabble games, was “God.” As a child, I fell asleep to the horrid tales of Israelites, who had a pretty rough go. My dreams were populated with heroes who had their eyes stolen from them simply for standing up for an orphaned race. They were also, at times, sentenced to spend some time with a few hungry lions; or was it… I might be mixed up. Samson, in particular, held my gaze. He’s probably the primary subconscious character behind my inexplicable aversion to haircuts (along with Jesus too, lest we forget). Samson scavenged wild honey from the belly of the most wild beasts; he too, fell in love with a girl. I’ve always liked him, though I’m still not sure whether or not he’s a Christian.

But all this really has nothing to do with my current profession: but I’m sure that, at the same time, it does. Somewhere in between the glistening mythology I’ve inhabited for the past thirty years and the mundane job I’ve found myself in for the past three, lies my truth. I’m not saving any Israelites, and I’m certainly not paid to deliver any sermons (though I routinely lecture my office mates about the merits of our recycling bins); I deliver documents, not words. But I’m happy,and I can’t figure out why.

I wake every morning a minute or so before my alarm clock tells me to do so. It doesn’t take me long to shake the sleep from my eyes; immediately upon waking, I’m thinking about the smell of the coffee I will brew, simply by boiling some water and grinding some beans. I think about how good the warm shower feels on my back, and how nice that first pee feels every morning. My dog is awake a minute before I (I know this thanks to daylight savings), his tail already a’waggin me awake with a start.

There is comfort in predicability. I know well the fingerprints of leaves that will inevitably caress a step on my downstairs way in the morning time. I know that shortly after I wish my neighbors a good morning as they enjoy their first cigarettes of the day, they will yawn and look away as they return my sleepy wish. My dog always poos on his way back from our block walk back home, never on the way to return. The bag I use to shield my fingers from my dog’s shit, stolen from an inevitable grey box on the Dallas Road pathway is stolen, I guess. I habitually take more than I need for day. After walking the dog and drinking my coffee, I go to work.

By the time I get to the office, the phones are already ringing. If I choose to comment on their deafening sound, I’ll be informed that they’ve been ringing steady since 8:00 AM, when the first disgruntled employee enters our accursed brick building. Unless I’m looking for an answer I already know all too well, I don’t ask when the ringing began. I simply put my face to the ground, empty the sticky courier bags sent to me from the office over there, and take the things I’m supposed to take to the places I’m supposed to take ’em to. Either way, I’m happy. I do my job, well.


Do you like this post? Do you want to read more? Well, here’s the story. Some friends of mine at the Fort Cafe have come upon hard times. They are out of a lease and they’re desperate to find a new place in which to run their business. For almost six years, the Fort Cafe has been serving our community. They’ve been hosting shows, serving up good food, and challenging us to become better people. I want to help. I will promise to write 1000 words/day if you are so kind to help out this wonderful cause. For details, go here:

Thank you.


This entry was posted in @ Work, Around Victoria, Creative Non-Fiction, Journals, Mental Health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to She and Him

  1. Crystal says:

    I guess it is because, for a very brief period, I worked there too and your art of description, I could see those girls so clearly in my head. Reading this made me cry. I don’t know why…

  2. Kathy says:

    Made me cry too. I miss everyone so much. Keep it up, Nick.

  3. Great imagery…love the easy flow…always waiting for more…

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