Everything will be all right.
by Ben Jones
I’m a bit prone to anxiety. Sometimes, when I’m at home, the kettle’s boiling, and the mugs are set out for Mum and me, my chest suddenly feels an almost indescribable bonding of both cavernous hollowness and virginal anal tightness, and no matter how long I stand still, hold my hand to my chest, and take deep breaths, the feeling doesn’t go away. Hours later, Mum will ask whether I’m feeling better, and most of the time I won’t be.
I started a new job today. A graduate job, too. Instead of muttering half-under-breath oh, I just work at a call centre – it’s temporary whilst rolling my eyes at my own sad existence, I can now proclaim I’m a copywriter – for a green energy company, no less, with what feels like it might just verge upon pride.
When I got up this morning, I couldn’t have smiled if I’d tried. My heart was beating as if it were racing against the hare, whilst my feet moved as if wishing to keep the tortoise company in his travels. On the day I was offered the job I wasn’t excited. I wasn’t nervous, and I didn’t look forward. I dreaded it. I just didn’t believe it could be. How could I hold down a real job? I’ve never had any real responsibility and been paid for it in my life. Working at a call centre I had constant supervision and worked seventeen hours a week. Now I’m going to be working full-time from home almost every day for the next ten weeks (until the company relocates to accommodate for its growing staff) and everything I am responsible for is completely down to me, with no helpful, friendly face around to reassure me if something isn’t as blindingly clear as I would like it to be. Aren’t you excited? Mum kept asking as I busied myself with making breakfast. I didn’t even answer. I mumbled a humph sort of sound, stared listlessly at the fruit bowl, then the cereal cupboard, then the eggs, the toaster, and the fridge, because breakfast I could deal with. I’ve made breakfast countless times, but I’ve never written an article on something I know nothing about and then had to submit it to someone who is paying me to write it, for it to be scrutinised, picked apart, and thrown back at me covered with red ink. By the time I’d gone to bed last night I’d decided it wasn’t unlikely that I’d be fired from my new job within the week and that the call centre would be receiving a call from me, begging them to take me back (again).
I was driven to work by my best friend who was also beginning her new job at the same company today. We were offered twin jobs, which is just typical of us. Glued at the hip anyway, we’ve got the same job too. I didn’t speak much on the journey, stared out of the window at the passing trees, and wondered how long it would all last. She was excited, and I was depressed. The call centre would reluctantly take me back, and I would hate everything, and probably try to become a dancer at a strip club in Blackpool before rotting in a plastic bag at the bottom of the Irish sea. It didn’t help matters that I’d forgotten to take along my graduation certificate, which we had been asked to take with us. That was the bruised cherry on top of a stale cake, and my fate seemed sealed. I would be kicked out before I’d put my name on the dotted line. I was useless.
But when I got there, and my new colleague, O_____, made us some tea, and began to talk through the areas we’d be writing about, my chest felt better, and it wasn’t so bad after all. I began to see the new job as a positive thing. I might actually make something of myself. Perhaps I won’t be sleeping in a single bed in my mum’s house until I’m forty. Perhaps I might be good at something. We were taught all about things we’ve never shown an interest in before, we chatted with O_____ and our other new colleagues and, once we’d covered everything we needed to know, I left with a smile on my face.
So, at the opposite end of the day, my heart is beating not just as slowly as the tortoise moves, and my feet are moving not quite as speedily as the hare’s, and I feel okay, possibly even good. I might go so far as to say I’m excited, which is nice.