The sun peeked through the curtains, the soft light a sharp contrast to the blaring alarm. Swiftly, she pressed the snooze button, keeping her eyes closed and hoping for just another five minutes of peace. She knew she would have to get up eventually, but the warmth and minimal light made her keep her eyes closed. She knew she would be late, but that didn’t concern her right now. It seemed that the outside world didn’t care, either. The street was almost abnormally quiet, as if it were trying to create the best environment for her to fall into sleep again.
Five minutes later, however, she was thinking something else. The world was surely against her, otherwise alarms wouldn’t exist. Did it really have to be so loud, she wondered, and quickly realized that she wouldn’t be able to get up otherwise. She checked the time. 7:41 AM, she saw, and she sat up in a panic.
Her mind raced. It wasn’t her fault that it was so easy to sleep in. That wasn’t the issue, though, as she soon realized that she barely had any time to get to work. She started running to the bathroom, nearly tripping over her own feet as she clumsily hurried to get ready. Grabbing her toothbrush, she squeezed a smear of toothpaste and started brushing. Maybe, if she was fast enough, she could make it on time. She rinsed her mouth, gagging as she nearly swallowed some of the water. Once again, she nearly tripped as she ran to her closet, grabbing a random assortment of clothing. God, she would probably look like a clown. What would be worse, she wondered, showing up to work late or looking like a five year old had dressed her?
Grabbing her bag and everything she needed, she started going out the door before she noticed that she was hungry. She mentally groaned, debating whether or not to eat. Settling on getting a quick breakfast after deciding for a far too long time, she took a muffin and an apple and rushed out. Maybe she could eat on the train or find some time at work. She could still be on time, an idea that made her happy seeing as her boss was completely awful. Mentally, she congratulated herself for being so hasty in getting ready.
The first thing she noticed when she stepped out was the large traffic jam, largely because she heard the deafening horns being honked by many of the drivers sitting impatiently. She knitted her eyebrows, annoyed at how inconsiderate the drivers were being, then sighed as she saw that she would have to squeeze through the cars to walk to the train station. She tried to minimize the discomfort as she crossed the street, feeling the heat radiating off the cars. Why was it so hot? Well, global warming, for starters, but maybe it was the depths of hell trying to curse her day. She questioned how that thought entered her brain. It was probably the heat. Trying to concentrate on the difficult journey ahead, she powered forward on her trail towards the train station.
She hadn’t realized that perverted men still existed on a hot day. The look of disgust on her face didn’t deter them from catcalling her. She wanted to lecture them on the sexualization and objectification of the female body, but recognized that it probably wouldn’t end up well for her and that she really wanted to be on time. It was okay, she reassured herself, she could fight sexism on a better day. Instead, she approached the station before realizing that it was the 10th. She undid her mental appreciation for getting ready quickly, cursing herself for forgetting that her card had expired today and that she had to get a new one. That took another five minutes, with the added benefit of her loss of hope that she would not be screamed at by her boss.
The train wasn't here yet.
How long could a train take?
Resisting the urge to scream her head off, she calmly checked the status of the train. If she wanted to scream her head off before, she wanted to screech like a banshee now. How could a train be delayed? It wasn’t even raining. There were no weather conditions. It was incompetence, pure and simple. Sometimes she wondered why she paid her taxes if all it got her was a stupid delayed train and lazy workers who didn’t care if she got to work or not. The next train was in another 10 minutes. She was out of a job, for sure.
The train ride was a fun, wild, exciting journey, by which she meant that it was a terrible experience. Being packed in a train car like a can of sardines wasn’t fun, and embarrassing herself with her surprisingly loud growling stomach certainly wasn’t, either. Her immense discomfort only rose with each stop they arrived at, with more and more passengers flooding into the train. She couldn’t even see which stop she was at. Trying to listen to the train announcements wasn’t very helpful, as she soon saw when she realized that she had missed her stop. Shoving her way out of the train car, she felt the tears come to her eyes at her desperate situation.
What had her life come to? She was 25 and working as an intern being paid the minimum wage, with little to no chances of advancement. She was rushing to work with dark circles under her eyes and an empty stomach, and for what? To please her god-awful boss who knew that she was as disposable as the plastic cups he drank his coffee out of? She had a bachelor’s degree, for heavens sakes, she should have been able to do better than this. And after this day, what? Sunday dinner with her parents so they could shame her on what a lazy, wasteful, unambitious MILLENNIAL she was? Her anger had come to a boiling point, and she could do nothing about it. Her life, so promising just a few years back, seemed like it had reached a dead end.
With a sigh, she committed herself to getting to work. What use was it to stand around, wallowing in her own self pity? Maybe, just maybe, she could pull herself up by the bootstraps and live up to the all the standards set for her generation. In five years, she would have a good job with room for advancement, a husband and two perfect little angel children, and a perfect home in the suburbs in a good school district.
What a fantasy.
She stepped into the train heading back to her stop, the world around her a dull misinterpretation of her world as a kid. What had changed were her circumstances. What could she do but strive to achieve these unattainable standards set by previous generations that were far removed from the reality of living as a young person with little work experience in this economy?
But that was the least of her worries as she ran towards her work building. Maybe, just maybe, she could run the five blocks to the building and have the elevator carry her to the 27th floor in the 40 seconds she had before work. The heat was really getting to her, and she stopped to take a break for a second before she continued to run. What a strange sight it must’ve been, a woman in heels and office wear sprinting with all her might.
Her chest heaving, she walked into the building that she hated so much. Her ascent to the 27th floor, to her, seemed more like a descent to hell. The hallway was empty, as if everyone was waiting on her, ready to shame and condemn her. Each step she took echoed. As she pushed the large door open, she heard the voice of her boss.