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The Dead Profession: Chapter 3
The dark sign near the window pane lit up and stayed lit. The words LIVE were superimposed on the sign, the two people in the room moved closer to the microphones connected to the main console. One person was sitting in a large orange office chair, the seat rested back a bit for comfort, the man in the seat was young, fit, and was the host of the talk show. The man seated across from him was aged, but not old. He was seated in a smaller chair, he was the guest for the night. The show went on about roughly an hour, nonstop. The two talked about politics, philosophy, the usual content for the show, the one conversation that caught my ear was on education in the country, I tuned in to that part more so than the other’s.
The man in the larger chair started off.
“This education system always peeved me a bit, just the validity of it all is just, well questionable at best.”
“How so? I mean you need a good education.” The man in the Larger chair sat up, his face stern.
“Right, but a ‘Good’ education’s hard to come by. In today’s society, we’ve become so reliant on technology that we don’t think we need books, or critical analytical skills for that matter.” The aged man adjusted his glasses, he pushed them up the bridge of his nose, now seeing more clearly.
“I see what you mean, but what’s that got to do with education?”
“Well they don’t teach you critical thinking anymore. The Greeks had it right when it came to education, they taught everything. Philosophy, Math, Astronomy. But what they did differently was they didn’t give you a stupid grade.”
“Well the Greeks had a bit more of a leisurely lifestyle than us, there was more time for easier education.”
“Doc, we’re in the twenty first century. Most people in the fifties predicted we’d have flying cars by now. Don’t you think its time we relax as a people?”
“Oh believe me, I’d love that more than anyone. But they’re business’s still open, people want to make it big. We have economy and progressivism to think about. I think all good natured people would love some utopia to dream about. But, that’s near impossible in this age.”
“But why? Why can’t we live in little communes and work towards enlightenment? Why can’t we live out our lives in peaceful serenity together? Because the greedy b******s ruling over us can’t give up money? Screw them, screw the market, screw all that. The ‘Free’ market was created by greedy bankers who wanted money. The same bankers who created the federal income tax, and the loan. Hell their entire business structure is all about getting more money to put in their personal safes!” The man in the larger chair breathed heavily after the rant. He looked to the older gentleman across from him. Both were silent. The older man pushed his glasses up again, seeing more clearly, he spoke.
“I, don’t know why. All I know is greed is a form of addiction, it’s the same as alcoholism, or any other addiction that can be deadly. That’s why the businesses get richer and the general public gets poorer. But I’ve noticed we’ve strayed from the initial topic, and I’d like to go back to that please.” The older man was nervous, the one in the larger chair cleared his throat, fixed his hair that had been stirred by the rant. He spoke again.
“Right, well as I meant to say before.” He cleared his throat again, “Our education system seems more like a system to test work ethic, rather than intelligence.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Well, the kids, they don’t ever ‘learn’ anything real do they? Oh yeah they may learn proper spelling of words or addition, at least up to fifth grade. But, my niece recently brought this to my attention. She was telling me about her math, she’s in algebra, and it didn’t seem important at all. Now for a scientist or a mathematician, it might be useful, but for a girl her age, or any age really. It just seems silly.” The aged man shook his head in agreement, aware that only the man seated across from him could see it.
“And those tests they give the kids, the state mandated ones. When Bush passed the No Child Left Behind act, he got it all wrong. What the act does, is certain years the kids have to take these tests, and based on how good everyone does, they get more spending than others. Now this to me seems like some half assed excuse to help kids. All this does is take time away from important lessons to teach the kids stuff from five years ago that’s on the test. They don’t care about the kids, they’re just like little entities that can get them more money. Makes me sick.”
The man in the larger chair got a symbol from the other side of the window pane, he began to wrap up. He thanked the aged man for showing up, and apologized for talking too much. The aged man told him it was his job, they laughed in unison, and the aged man left.
I stopped the recording there, I shook my head at it before turning off the television. I turned to see the door open, the words “security” sprawled across the side that normally faced out into the hall. The tape ejected out of the VCR, I always laughed that we still used them, but then again, not much to steal from the studio anyway.
I placed the tape into its respective slot in the lower left cubbyhole, afterwards I got my coat and things and began to leave the dark room. On my way down the hall to the exit, I bumped -very literally- into Jakob the Swedish temp. who helps clear the recording room after shifts. He was always peppy, energetic and always smiled. Although it is probably wrong to hate such behavior, I couldn’t help myself. Also, he always wore a scarf, even in summer, something about him I would never understand.
“So sorry Mister Watts, here let me get that for you.” He said picking up the folder I dropped.
“It’s fine.” I said, I thanked him for the courteous act and tried moving towards the door, I failed in this regard.
“Great show last night Mister Watts, love your rants, very inspiring.”
“Well when you call them ‘rants’, it kind of loses it’s inspiring nature, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Oh, well, yes, I suppose.” He looked nervously down to his watch, then back to me, the never ending smile faded.
“I must be going, see you tomorrow night Mister Watts.”
He left quickly, he was a strange man I thought as I walked outside, we were near the mountains on the outskirts of the city. The air was colder here, I loved it, the breeze would chill most to the bone, but to me, it was like fuel. I wore only a light sweater and jeans, I moved to my car, enjoying the January scenery. From up here, the city below us looked, miniscule, the mountains that surrounded the city were giants, slowly creeping above the small city.
My car awaited me, parked in the reserve spot, early morning sun beams heated the car, creating a radiating warmth that melted my body once inside. After the car door slammed shut behind me, I inserted the key into the ignition. The car roared to life, the dashboard lit up and the radio started. It was playing a music centric station, limited commercials, my niece had been in here though. Pop music started playing, opposite to my usual. Which by “usual,” I mean it wouldn’t have been on in the first place.
I began my descent down the mountainside, the snow caps began to blow downwards in the powerful morning winds, snow streaked my windshield, blinding me somewhat. The radio was still on, a dance tune had been playing, not a bad one mind you, but redundant nonetheless. I found myself tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the songs beat.
The song continued as I approached a red light, in the moment a small white dove landed on the bush next to the car, I stared at it for what seemed an eternity. I finally pulled out a small marble notebook from my pocket, its age has taken its toll on the condition of the hardback cover, the edges of the pages were crumpled and dirty. I opened to pages seventy-three to seventy-four. The end of a poem stood at the top of seventy-three, I don’t even remember writing it.
I turned back a page and began to read the poem, it was about a small workshop in Holland, the worker there had been tired of his work, he’d been underappreciated, and under worked. He did something that he loved, but was not compensated for his work, he had a epiphany moment. He tried to reason with himself on whether it was worth it in the end, whether doing what you love is worth it if no one notices, if no one cares. The poem ends on seventy-three, all that was left was two lines, which read.
“And lo, the flock had forgotten me, in my moment of enlightenment Alas they had seen the light, the light of death and solitude, in this, a Dead Profession.”
As I read the last line, a drop of rain struck my car’s windshield, it spread, flattened by the force of gravity against the hardened glass. The white Dove had long since flown away, leaving a feather in the olive bush.
I closed the book, re-placed it into my pocket, and drove off into the rain, a small dove feather stuck to my windshield, glued in place by the rain. The wipers went on, moving the feather from its spot. I finally turned off the radio, a quiet serene moment came upon me then. The rain picked up violently, I began to focus on the road more than before, fearing the worst. A ray of light broke through the darkened clouds, fighting nature itself, and soon the rain began to diminish, slowly.
I approached a set of train tracks, the first indicator of my arrival into the city, near the street sat the deli where I would park my car. I slowed the car accordingly, I noticed the owner was moving items out of the store. He was old and frail, hardly able to lift the boxes stacked inside. A sign outside signified that the deli was going out of business and, as the man picked up a large cardboard box, something happened. A tear began to form in his right eye, at first I thought it was just the rain. But as he picked up the boxes from his deli, he would pull out a small handkerchief from his back pocket,
-now soaked from the rain and whatever else- and he would blow his nose into it, wiping his eyes as he did so.
I left the car, unaffected by the rain, and walked to him.
“Sir? Are you okay?” I asked genuinely, he turned to me, surprised that someone had asked and answered quietly.
“Nothing, nothing at all.” He said while picking up a second box from inside, the rain now began to die down more at this point, a small rainbow was created in the reflection on the store window.
“Do you need some help moving the boxes?” He looked to me, or more accurately he stared at me for a good minute. He moved his lips, as though he was speaking to himself aloud, but no words would leave his mouth.
“No. Boy, do you ever have the feeling that you’re underappreciated?”
“I suppose, why?” He started packing the box he carried into the back off a small moving van before answering.
“I’d been working at this corner for thirty seven years! I ain’t done nothing different. I mean this is all I can do! But people slowly stopped buying, they didn’t want roast goose or duck, and I guess pork just went out of fashion! I worked my a** off for them thirty seven years, and you know what I get for a thank you?”
“A god damned gift certificate! God forbid they give me some real compensation! No, they give me fifty bucks to go to the Red Lobster! A**holes!” He’d been yelling now, he’d thrown the card he pulled out to show me near a small gutter at the corner. I moved an inch closer and spoke.
“Sometimes, you have to do something, not because it’ll be worth it, but because it’s what you have to do.” I turned around, not waiting for an answer. I started walking down the street towards the coffee shop, the rain had stopped completely now as small streams formed near the road’s edges.
I reached the Coffee shop within minutes, the sun had just broken through the once dark clouds, sun rays had started to warm the back of my neck. Once I neared the door, a large man of his early fifties bumped into me, knocking me off balance for a moment. He wore a large orange colored snow jacket, as if to hide from the bitter cold that had still inhabited the air outside. I tried to ignore it, but the thought of it kept coming back. For a instant, I thought he’d smiled at me, out of spite. Almost like he was happy for what he did, and that he would do it again, if the chance arose. I pushed the door open, and a small ring welcomed me, and the smell of coffee beans filled the air around me.
I was home.