Guilliean reads part of her short story. Stream it and read along with the text!
Finally. Lunch. I could unwind for 60 minutes away from the madness and try to get back to square one before I would have to go back for another three hours and do it all again. What am I doing with my life? Why did I accept this job? Oh, that’s right, because I’ve got bills. How many other people have jumped into the abyss and been okay? Why am I so afraid?
These were the same questions I asked myself as I prepared my leftovers in our microwave and fired up the TV in our break room. This particular TV got cable, one of the only ones that did on our floor, other than the dealer’s break room down the hall. It probably shared a link with the hotel rooms upstairs. No one questioned it, and it was a welcome respite from the ugliness on the other side of the door.
Like most people who believed they were in the wrong career, lunch was the only intermission afforded to me from the false warmth I had to wear eight hours a day, five days a week. I chucked my gray jacket on my chair and glared at it. ‘Fake it ‘til you make it,’ they always said. I’d been here for over a year, and I had long ago seen the writing on the wall. I was so over it; I had hiked East over the Rocky Mountains already.
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The door opened, and the Filipino guy from the business center came storming in and sat down at the eight-top table they kept in our room. He seemed engrossed in something, scribbling on a scrap piece of paper. I quietly sat down across from him and began to eat. The television was playing E! It was a repeat of last week’s “Keeping with the Kardashians.” I tuned out but kept my eyes on the TV. Television had the wonderful addictive ability to prevent overclocking of internal processors further. God bless TV.
“Oh man,” he muttered, throwing aside the hotel-branded pen he was using. I never knew his name. But we were friendly.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he replied. “Well, not nothing. See, I DJ on the side to make extra money.”
“Oh, that’s cool,” I offered. “What do you spin?”
He smiled at me, appreciative that I knew the lingo. “Mostly hip-hop.” His face dropped into despair. “There’s rumors they’re planning on cutting our hours again, and I was thinking I could take on more gigs. I mean, if I could, I’d be a DJ full-time.”
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“So… you’re crunching the numbers, I guess?”
“Yeah, trying to see if I get X amount of gigs, then that would help. I mean, I could if I had to. But I also don’t know if I want to keep doing that, as good as it pays for a side hustle.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I feel you. I mean, I get 40 hours here, and there’s no shortage of work, but I hate hospitality. It’s the only industry out here, but I can’t live anywhere else. It’s too expensive, and it’s not like I’ve got mad bills. It’s like that Smiths’ song, ‘why do I smile at people who I’d much rather kick in the eye.’ It’s so draining. I’m not cut out for this work!”
“I’ve never heard of that song; I’ll have to check it out,” he said.
“Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” I said, “you should definitely download it.”
He squinted at me. “What do you think I should do?”
The question caught me off guard. I don’t have my shit together; I shouldn’t be giving advice to anyone else. “I think you should do what you’re supposed to do.”
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