My son had three chairs lined up just the way he likes them. He walked back and forth on the tops of them. At almost two years old, he comes up with some interesting ways to entertain himself. He got close to me and growled and fell into my arms. Then he got up do to it a thousand times more. He laughed as he walked away on the chair tops. It is a cold winter, and his stocking cap left his thin hair standing up in dual cowlicks on the back of his head. His brown eyes glowed, while he was slapping his feet down. Seeing how much attention I was giving him, my oldest daughter who just turned ten, moved over and sat down beside me. My son became instantly angry, and she yelled back at him. I understand that she wants my attention, after all not too long ago, it used to be just me and her. She has plenty of opportunities to hang out with her dad. In this moment, the three chairs had zero value to her, until her brother found joy and comfort in them.
I hugged my daughter tight, and I whispered in her ear a secret just for us. “Sweetheart, you had your time with this age. I still love you, you are growing up so fast and I am so proud of you. I need you to understand, that your brother finds comfort in the simple things he does with his dad. It hurts him when you take it away. Tell ya what, let’s take the truck out after I get off work tomorrow and have us a coffee date.” She smiled and we exchanged a high five, sealing the deal. She just has hot chocolate, but we call it coffee for show. She smiled and walks away. My son, full of joy, resumes his game.
The tubed florescent lights cast out a synthetic plastic like glow onto the dented and worn linoleum floor of the break room. The factory schedule was routine and predictable. The same was true for where everyone would sit. Employees congregated in the break room around the same time like clockwork. Many ate the same things. Today would be different. Today the break room would house and explosion. Different work groups, and different departments often times may experience tension. Talking dries up, humanity is lost, and emotions became deep dark caves that hold explosives, like a forgotten mine.
Today, two workers decided to stage a protest of their over their perceived injustice at the seating arrangement. They smirked, laughed, and gave their anger time to ramp up. In a few moments it happened, the break room began to populate. A worker with dirty coveralls, calloused hands, and a direct heart said, “Hey go sit at your own table.”
I sipped coffee out of my periodic table coffee mug, a safe distance away from the scene that was unfolding. The artillery fire of ‘F’ bombs exploded in the room. The secret caves of emotion, hatred, and resentment level, instantly saturated the social framework of the room. It ended as quickly as it began. A heavy silence hung in the air. Soon, break was over, and everyone filed out. Except for me and the bomber. “Can you believe these guys?” he yelled over to me. I assume he was attempting to enlist an ally to join his war. I took another sip of my hot coffee. “All they got hear is sock water man…” I said not looking at him. I dumped it out into the sink, washed my cup, and put it away. I thought about how, perhaps for some, routine is the only anchor that helps them survive the storm of the work day, or life itself for that matter. It’s not simply a chair, and it has nothing to do with anyone else. I soaked in my thoughts, like a soothing hot tub on a winters day. The air around the conversation was cold. There was ice here, that I didn’t have the strength to try and melt.
“Well? Don’t you think this is messed up?” The bomber shouted.
“Sorry man, I am a little distracted” I said with a smile, “I have a coffee date after work today!”
Copyright © 2017 Zachary W Gilbert