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Thinking Inside the Box This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Think about what you’re surrounded by. Automatically you would think about all the positive influences in your life, right? Now think about everywhere that you’ve been today. How many of those places have been shaped- ever so originally, like a box? Where the concrete walls are flat; the floor, is flat; and the door is a square. The same door that you walk into and even the windows are square! Where have you seen this place? Have you been here before? Is it: your room, bathroom, kitchen, garage, or possibly your basement? Or is it any place else that you have been?

It’s funny how the world works this way. It’s funny how your main goal as a child was to think outside of the box, but your main conclusion on how a house or a home should look when drawn, was a box. And the perfect family of four was supposed to live in this box. Their life was literally drawn: boxed in. Many of us may actually have a family of four. Let me show you how you probably lived.

Your mom and dad live in a box. They shared a perfectly symmetrical square bed, and a rectangular counter of two sinks. They had had square side tables and a dresser. The wooden floorboards that creaked, were also rectangular. Now for easier representation, let’s just say that both of your parents have similar jobs to each other.

Each morning, they’d get up, and hit the snooze button on their rounded rectangular alarm clock. They’d pull out their drawers and pull out their squarely-folded, collared shirt, or walk open their long closet door to reveal a walk in box to get their crisply ironed button-down from a wire hanger. They’d get their pretentiously pleated pants and a matching belt with a small silver buckle. They’d wait their turn at a five minute shower and make their separate daily plans as they stand in a box that pours hot water on their heads.

After preparing themselves for long day at work, they would dry off and dress themselves, leaving two more things to do before they leave their home box for the day. Both carefully trying not to make the stairs creak and to wake you up, they’d pour their Raisin Bran or other flakey cereal from a cardboard box and eat it before it becomes soggy in their 2% fat, pasteurized milk. When all finished, with their milky breakfast still hanging on their upper lip, they grab their favorite mug that reminds them how good of a parent they are, or how accomplished they are at their job, or something, and pour themselves a cold glass of coffee that was made the night before only to heat it up for 30 seconds in the boxy microwave.

Grabbing their keys and phone in the same fumbling motion off the front table in the downstairs hallway, with giving them just enough time to slip on their oxfords and go to their station wagon, or modernly fashioned Prius, push the unlock button on the control, stick the keys in the ignition, and go. Wiping away the bead of sweat that rolls down on the side of their head, they open their personal mirror from the sunshield, look themselves in the eyes and try to motivate themselves to hard day at work with annoying people they don’t want to talk to and their cocky boss that picks on them a majority of the time. Just listening to jokes that aren’t funny, and taking calls from employees down the hall who are so frustrating only because they are old and refuse to follow the modern technology movement. When satisfied, and fully motivated, they tune into their favorite news station and listen to poetry and interviews and politics, thinking that maybe knowing something that’s going on in the rest of the world might help them at their box-office job.

Small rings of exhaustion lingering beneath their eyes and sipping their slowly cooling coffee, they begin their drive to work. Slipping out of the driveway and out of their suburban neighborhood, they run past a stop sign and widely turn onto the highway to face the morning dose of traffic that waits for them to slam their breaks just as hard as the first car that flipped over on their way to work. Releasing a sigh of exhaustion mixed with frustration, your parent will honk their horn and flip people off as the traffic will gradually become heavier and seem to move slower especially as the caffeine from their morning coffee begins to seep in. Their impatience causes the start of the chain of stress for the day.

It has been almost an hour in traffic, and the news channel has turned into static and elevator music. The rectangular clock reads 6:52 with the repeating digital message on what radio station is on. With the want to listen to world news and politics, the choice has been made for them. Changing to a comedy talk show with an almost silent interference of a radio broadcasted televangelist station buzzing in the background. Hopeful to find a clearer station, they zoom through multiple stations to find the right one. Maybe this time they’ll break a chuckle through their tight lips.

No channel found yet, they soon turn grateful as traffic starts moving along. It is now 7:22, and realizing now that the traffic is moving comes another reaction of sadness. The corners of their eyes dropping lower, their determination flickers and their face of seriousness is on. They don’t want to work here. This was not in their plans of where they wanted to work when they were older after receiving their degree in journalism or their bachelors in health science with a Ph.D. in biology. No, this was not even their backup plan. They are working in a grey building with grey wrinkled faces to receive their fat checks. Their well-deserved rectangular compounded sheets of cotton and paper dyed green and faded after they have been worn down and used by the people that once thought that they deserved that same sheet of money too.

Driving into the parking lot of work now, they grab their blazers, dump their coffee, tuck their phone in their pockets, clip their I.D. on their blazer pocket, and lock the car door behind them. Taking a deep breath in, they show the security guard their I.D. as their welcomed by the automatic, tinted sliding glass door with security cameras on each side. Walking past the fountain in the lobby, they run to take the last available space in the elevator. Standing uncomfortably close to people whom they don’t even know, not making eye contact, and not a noise made by anyone except for the chiming for the bell in the elevator every time a floor is passed. When the doors finally open, everybody passes around the people that are left and head their separate ways to finish the work that has been assigned to their cube-farm. Still in the elevator that gets filled up at every stop, they find their destination and get off. Thankful not to be in that claustrophobic box anymore. Brushing off whatever lint has been rubbed on them, they turn around to be welcomed by their boss reprimanding them for being late and handing over a pile of work that they have no idea what they’re for or about. Probably just filling out tables and graphing data that the production workers on the other floors have found and need to send out to the allied companies that are corresponding to ours in a different language. Headed toward their cubicle, they look at their graduation photos that are on the bulletin board next to the computer and remembering what they thought life would be like before they retired. Never in a million years did they think that they’d be working for a company they never knew existed and only took the job because their apartment roommate said that they assign really cool projects. But that was when they were 20-something, and the roommate just so happened to be a more successful person than they were, even if they were both the same age.



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