The workplace, no doubt, is an interesting place for people watching. People are trapped more than eight hours everyday inside freezing, dull-colored buildings: facing computers, flipping papers, mollifying clients, chewing at ball pen caps, sipping instant coffee, and spending the rest of the time wishing they were somewhere else.
You see them in stiff blazers and glossy neckties, scurrying around, trying to look as if they are actually busy with something. The fact that they are pretending to be busy somehow gives them the assurance that they are doing something worthwhile with their routine lives.
And maybe they really do have hectic days, no argument with that, but at the end of each day, they would begin to wonder if the careers they had chosen had put them where they have always wanted to be, if perchance the endless tapping on keyboards or the ingestion of brainless policies define who they are.
Then you see the arthritic supervisors, those fifty-something superiors who stay rooted to their posts merely because of that beautiful thing called “security of tenure”, which most government-funded agencies take to heart quite liberally, and so that they are able to retain their plush swivel chairs, those soft back cushions, the huge tables that hold nothing but family picture frames, plastic flowers, and useless what-nots.
The females paint their faces in an effort to obscure wrinkle lines, perm and color their hair in a vain effort to regain its fading luster, and embellish themselves with heavy glittering accessories – gold, shiny jades and rubies, oversized pearls in hundreds of colors- perhaps to remind everyone that these jewels are their trophies, trophies for toiling inside freezing, dull-colored buildings in a span of long decades. The males have protruding bellies, brassy voices, sly gazes, and huge groping hands; and if you’re careless, they could read way too much between your quick glances and contrived laughter.
These middle-aged folks have earned their respective positions no doubt, but some of them no longer make any contribution to the organization at all. Most hours they just absentmindedly sift through papers, verify checks and tinker with their high-end cell phones, wondering whether the husband is not with some mistress, or the if the wife is not flirting with the boss. And the worst of their kind never grow up at all. At their age, they still gossip like thoughtless adolescents, feign friendships even as they kiss each other’s cheeks, and nurture their little prejudices like confused toddlers. The workplace compels them to fake smiles and get crafty with small talk, to fashion handy compliments and throw them to the air whenever the need arises.
These bosses give out orders like automatons, get panic attacks at the slightest blunders, seek perfection where there is none, and all the while not fully understand the gamut of their jobs. The madames come to the office because they need to, because they have huge credit card debts to pay off, new car accessories to purchase and not necessarily because their perfume-laden presences are still needed.
The workplace is their, home, a stretch of land subdivided into their own little countries where they rule as royalties. And beneath them, their minions toil over their mindless employments – tap away at computers, flip over papers, mollify clients, chew at ball pen caps, sip instant coffee and wish they were somewhere else.
Well, the simple-minded ones are happy where they are, content with everyday work because there are mouths to feed, and because unfortunately, they know nothing better. They have spouses to come home to, and children to tell stories to, so what is the point of yearning for a better profession? Their thoughts are flying in all directions as they work at their tables, wishing they were home because if truth be told, there is nothing like home in a pretentious, dull-colored building.
Millions of hearts are trapped in places they cannot love, but only be immune to. They have grown gnarly and old, and they cannot fuel their souls to dream of something else. They just sit and watch, at the budding ones in stiff blazers and glossy neckties, lip gloss and stilettos, wanting to tell them to go and follow their heart songs. Wanting to tell them that yes, the workplace is interesting.
But the wide open skies are breathtaking.