Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some Details You Might Find Convenient

My office building is one of about two dozen in an industrial park about an hour outside of Wilmington, Delaware. Why do they call them industrial parks? We produce neither industrial equipment nor are we situated in a park. There are no trees here. There are lots of ponds and geese, and large, half-functioning fountains in the ponds. No one walks on the grass. There are no flowers, either. Just grass and water. Our Post Office box's address is Wilmington, so our sad, young assistant must drive her 1999 Nissan Sentra into downtown Wilmington twice per week to retrieve our mail. Invoices in triplicate, office furniture catalogs, glossies for professional education credit courses, and the occasional headshot from a model. We discovered not too long ago that our P.O. Box, 296543, is similar to a talent agency in Wilmington, at P.O. Box 269543. I don't think the office manager forwards the photo packages to the agency; I saw an open drawer when I was in his office to complain about my chair with what looked like dozens of headshots. I sometimes think about the poor souls sending their resumes to an accounting firm. Are they waiting to hear back? Have they held off in sending to another agency until they've heard from us?

I don't have much of a life outside my work and my commute back home. During my commute for the past 15 years or so I have been listening to a talk-radio show, Bobby & Frankie on Funky105.9FM. Only in the last few days have I become utterly repulsed by their voices. They make prank phone calls, embarrass people, complain about local politics and offer no solutions...the same talk radio pair in just about every metro area. Totally unoriginal, but spawned from the only shock-jock ever to make an original show, Howard Stern. Though they are nothing like him. My car doesn't get satellite radio so I can't hear his show any longer. I never really listened before he went on satellite, anyway. I felt like an outsider, and like I shouldn't be listening in on the conversations of people having fun.

I play golf on Thursday mornings with some college buddies and a guy from work. Gene, from my office, is a bloated, conniving dolt and I haven't had the gumption to ask him not to to join us on Thursdays. He talks about women he pretends he's dated, and about his new car lease every couple of months, his clients who detest him but need his advice. He dominates the conversation and I feel responsible. My other two friends don't really talk to me anymore. Michael's wife divorced him two years ago and she was very friendly with my wife. I liked her a lot, too, so it was awkward to split friends. Now it seems we only golf for an hour in decent weather on Thursdays with little else in common. Akshay, my other friend from college, has so far surpassed me and everyone I know in status and success in life. He operates a global outsourcing firm with an outpost in Hyderabad, India. At first I was jealous, but then I saw how talented he was and ambitious, and I became genuinely proud that he is my friend. I feel that he is donating some of his valuable time out of sympathy for me. I feel guilty for that, as well. I wish I could make it up to him, and be a more worthy friend to him, or give him business tips.

My home is quiet. My wife is a part-time editor for two lifestyle journals. My boys liven the house up when they are home. They are not home often. Between sports, friends, and hobbies, they spend little time at home. They are great kids, and I'm so proud to be their dad. I am worried, though. Have I given them enough guidelines to be free thinkers? Will they follow my path, the one that I have now learned to dread? Or have they learned that I cannot offer them anything enriching, so they are seeking it elsewhere?

A few short weeks ago I hadn't given these details any thought. Now I do. I give these details a lot of thought. I realize I must be frank with myself and wake up if I am to keep living in this world. I cannot go on with the drudgery and sameness. I never would have thought these thoughts but something has happened within me that is compelling me to change and I don't know what to do.

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