The Death of the Spirit

They wear you down eventually. They keep you on the factory floor from 8 AM to 6 PM five days a week plus weekend pickup shifts. You spent the first decade dreaming: I’ll go to China someday; I’ll write a famous Book, meet That Special Someone. Second decade: gee, you thought, this is taking a while. China far away, Book just a few scribbled ideas, Special Someone not apparent, unless it’s JoAnn in the break room. Third decade: you know it’s self delusion. You’re never going to China. You’ll never write that Book. JoAnn is about to squeeze out her third brat, and is screaming at you about your lack of ambition. You could work your way up to Floor Manager, she says. Floor Manager, that would make your wifey proud. You see it all ahead of you: years of doing the same job each day. Then: retirement. You will become a faintly ridiculous bore, your authoritative opinion no longer sought by the younger crowd, your quips painfully out of date. Then it will be the years of decline, followed by increasing debility. You will lie on your cot, wanting your orange juice. Why isn’t somebody bringing me my orange juice? I had the most vivid dream of my boyhood home. Could have written a book, you know. Had the idea (taps forehead) in here. Where’s Peter? Oh, that’s right, he died in Kyrgyzstan. Years ago now. Wonder what China woulda been like? Where is that orange juice? Gosh darn it, a man don’t want much. Just a swallow of the sweet stuff now and then.

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