One of my more traumatic deaths found me in a corporate cubicle, eating a cold bean and cheese burrito. My cube-neighbor was yet again distracting me from my plight of under-employment by setting me powerlessly on edge with her tales of construction funk.
Today, it was the story of the Hard Wood Floors.
It seems the Hard Wood Floor installation into her family’s under-construction McMansion had many defects. A born-again perfectionist seeking the maximum possible value when spending her appreciating money, she had little regard for spending my depreciating time carelessly with her prattle of dented Hard Wood Floors.
Having spent some time in the trades, and being familiar with wire, concrete, wood, stone, tile, screw, and the tools and crews that fashion them into manufactured boxes people call homes, and being no less than three feet away and woefully low in my natural defenses against predation of my time given that I had nothing better to do, I was duly subjected to her chorus about the dents, scratches, scrapes and other various imperfections, real or imagined, she had meticulously cataloged on hands and knees upon her unlived house’s Hard Wood Floors by placing a pointillism of color-coded Post-It notes upon every mark for the builder to rectify.
I do not seek to impugn her honor here – she likely bought the Post-Its herself, and probably did not lift them from her employer, my employer once removed.
And so, I was invariably asked my opinion and I dutifully rendered it, full well knowing all the dull consequences for the ensnared parties.
That the builder would squeal and rebut, claiming the concavities and scuffs were a natural part of the installation process, that they would seek to bargain price, and that if pushed, would grudgingly re-install.
That the subcontractor would balk, and end up eating part of the cost of the builder.
That the installers would mutter about guddling the tongues up but still appear for work but work slowly, as a front for quality but in reality to extract even more hours from their employer for paychecks they could spend upon failing trucks, juddering strippers, beer and t-shirts for sports teams they held in more reverence than their politics.
That the builder would reject any and all further claims post-reinstallation, no matter the protestations of his client.
And so it came to pass that a salaried woman building a $700,000 house with her husband still complained to me, an hourly worker snatched a week away from homelessness mere weeks ago and impressed into envelopes and spreadsheets, and trapped between preening green badges, and still terribly, deeply in debt to past passions and idiocies, whilst I chewed my burrito recently liberated from its Ziploc bag, about the second installation of her Hard Wood Floor and all the defects thereof.
With all else swirling about me, my grandfather laying in his death chamber awaiting his final breath surrounded by strangers, creditors hounding me like a rabbit on the course, hunger gnawing at my belly, and no future other than enslavement to my debt, I snapped.
I was instantly transformed into a class warrior striking back at this urban haute bourgeoisie, and it was my means of redemption, liberation and exaltation.
Leaping across the partition, the only restraints I observed were the laws of physics and biology, which kept me from executing my task in a shorter duration and left me with a tender left knee.
Surprise precedes fear, and it was not until she was roughly pinned against the carpeting selected by very well-paid space planners, my clenching hands at her throat, that her eyes dilated in fear. I was not troubled by them for long, as my thrashing of her head against the Steelcase roller quickly caused her to unfocus, leaving me with a sudden floppy piece of flesh, with pooled and splattered fluids about – some hers, some mine, excreted in the throes of our mutual exertions.
Surprised at my situation, I was quietly becoming aware of the chaotic stillness that palpably radiated away in perpendicular waves. Those upon my aisle either sat in shocked stillness or had fled entirely, leaving me to my druthers within a still-life tableau worthy of Marat.
The title? “Death Encased in a Cathedral of Corporatism.”
The rows, on the other hand, were pure pandemonium, and I could hear and feel the vibration rolling away through the room, the breakers crashing around the corners, and my impending doom creeping towards me in reverse riptide with purposeful, quiet, random squeaks of boots that mixed with the dopplering, scuttling clacking of crab-like clicks as high heels wheeled and skittered across wood floors, (oh, the agony to hear wood floors receiving dimples!) away into the refuges of the fire escapes and stairwells.
I gingerly arose from the floor to perform a quick ablution and to meet my fate.
Copyright, Heather Kilbourn, 2012.