The Ever Knowing Creep

March 6, 2008
By Sara Tabrizi, Santa Clara, CA

Work is a monotonous and dull task, reserved for those who have no other option. And that is exactly the reason why I found myself working five days a week, eight hours a day at a little office in the heart of polluted, insignificant city. Everyday, I fixed the photocopier, emptied the recycling and fetched the coffee. My paycheck arrived at the end of each month, and the occasional trip to the bank followed. Sometimes, I went to the grocery store, and maybe even stopped to do some laundry on the way.

I was eighteen, apathetic, and unmotivated. My parents had given up on me a long time ago, when they had discovered that I did not share their enthusiasm of higher education and career advancement. I had moved in with a boyfriend six months prior, to my parents complete disapproval, and hadn’t contacted them since.

The boyfriend had left me for another prettier girl. He had claimed that my lack of passion drove him away. I knew better. I was completely mediocre, lacking anything that would help me stand out in a crowd. I wasn’t ugly. That wouldn’t have been so bad. At least then, people would given me the time of day to send pitying looks and painful smiles. Everyone is nice to ugly people. I wasn’t dumb either. But I had never won a chess tournament, nor had I discovered a cure for a contagious virus. I was just much too ordinary.

Thus, I ended up working as an office assistant for rich CEO’s with two much money in their pockets and egos the size of small countries. Slowly, I saw myself become wallpaper. First, it was unintentional. I would elope to a world inside my head, filled with adventures involving Price Charmings and Unicorns. My fantasies overcame my reality, and I was lost in the storybook inside my brain. One day, as ordinary as the next, an extraordinary realization came upon me as I was returning from the lavatory. The less noticeable I became, the less work I received and the less abuse I had to endure!

From that point on, I managed to hold my job and receive my paycheck without ever really working. I perfected the art of looking busy. Sometimes people lingered close to me, as if debating whether or not to order me to do something. During these occasions, I quickly immigrated to another corner of the office, sometimes slinking behind one of the large, decorative Eucalyptus plants.

At this point, I had stopped going out for social gatherings. I had cut ties with my friends. This was unintentional as well. I had just become quieter and quieter, seemingly receding into myself, and the phone calls had become less and less frequent. And I was happy. No more obligations to full-fill, no more birthday parties to attend.

Eventually, my outings after work became restricted only to necessary chores. Laundry, groceries, work, post office. I fell into daily routines. Spontaneity had no part in my life. Impulsive, to me, was an unplanned trip to Starbucks for a coffee after work. I became a nobody. I was a person without a face, breathing, yes, but containing no life inside of me.

It was a Thursday, I remember, when I discovered that I was invisible. Well, I actually wore black and purple that day, but even with these bold colors, I remained unnoticed. No one asked me my name, and eyes stared through me, or around me, but never acknowledged my presence. The transformation into nobody was complete.

With this metamorphosis, a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me. I could now linger at a desk, inhaling the presence of someone else. People shared intimate secrets around me. I heard phone calls no one was ever supposed to here. I noticed things that people were not supposed to ever see. I knew everything. I was God.

One day, a secretary I had been observing for a couple of months arrived at the office in tears. She was lovely, and quite a few men saw this as an opportunity to comfort her. She would have none of it. And I knew exactly why. I had noticed, unlike the others, the bruises on her arms, or the way she flinched whenever anyone got close to her. She had an abusive husband, and this time, I knew, he had pushed her past her emotional endurance.

I approached her quietly, and as usual, she didn’t notice me. Then, I did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I spoke beyond one phrase. “It’s okay, It’s all right. I know, and I’m here. Tell me your secrets.”

She told me all of them. Sometimes she cried, and once or twice she even laughed. And then she thanked me for listening. The next time I saw her, she ignored me as usual.

The next time I ever spoke to someone was a Tuesday. I had often observed a Domino’s delivery boy arrive at the office carrying under his arm a box of piping hot pizza. It was always the same pimply, brown eyed kid with a pitiful mustache and a leather jacket. His eyes were empty, and I had observed enough to know that he was depressed. I had become good at detecting this in people. There is something in their eyes, a distinct lack of spark that seems to travel through their whole bodies. The slump in his back, the slow, directionless walk, all made it perfectly clear to me: he was suicidal. I followed him out of the building, and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned dully.

I said, “It’s okay. It’s all right. I know and I’m here. Tell me your secrets.” His face lost its indifferent look. His whole body seemed to let out a collective sigh. He told me everything, thanked me, and was on his way.

Robert was the name of a wealthy manager at my work. He was chauvinistic, sexist and perverted. His laugh polluted the room like a sledgehammer, vibrating of the walls and suffocating everything in the general vicinity. One day I was watering a plant in his office. He had been suffering some financial blows in the stock market recently, I knew, but today I saw in his face that he had lost it all. There is nothing more interesting to observe than the face of a person who has been placed in a position that they never expected to be in. Robert was newly poor, and the expression frozen onto his face was one of disbelief.

I came close to him and said, “It’s okay. It’s all right. I know and I’m here. Tell me your secrets.” He looked as though he would slap me. And then he dissolved into a puddle of tears, and told me things no one had never known. And would never know again. Then, he thanked me and left. He would never return to the office.

Around this time, there was a fern plant in the office that seemed to be dying. I knew for a fact that it only thrived on lemonade, and that water killed it. But the other office assistants did not know this. Everyday, I brought a bottle of lemonade to work, and quenched this plants peculiar taste. One day, I observed a man watering the plant. What are poor soul, I thought. He believes he is doing the plant some good. How uneducated, how naive. And then it hit me, like a bowling ball to the stomach.

I was not untalented, and I was not impassionate. I had a talent for observation, and a passion for learning. I was not inhuman. I was a million different people, packed into one body. I was the abused secretary, the poor business man, the suicidal pizza deliveryman, everyone, all rapped up into one vibrant ball, seething with life, breathing with an extravagant passion. I had triumphed over the evil that had tried to make me believe that I was ordinary. I had been destined for something much greater.

And one day, I knew, one day, someone who understood me would come along. Someone who wanted to learn of all the things I knew, someone who could handle my superior knowledge. I was not empty. I was brimming with life, and one day I would be able to share it with someone. I would transfer some of me into them, and they would be ever understanding.

But, until this day comes, I will sneak, I will creep, I will listen, I will see. I am watching you, this very minute. And I see right through your exterior. Just remember: It’s okay, It’s alright. I know and I’m here. Tell me your secrets.

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