Updated: Aug 14
He's sitting in his office wondering what to do. Demands from above wave objectives in front of him he doesn't know how to meet, and from the sea of sullen faces aboard the shop floor come question after question on the same issue, time and time again.
Time off is everything, and luckily the wage supports getaways, so now and then there's respite from the relentless paddling nobody sees. The machines are so much better off, they tirelessly refuse to feel anything.
"Switched On" is a phrase belonging to other people, lucky people who live different lives in other offices where the whole plane of existence is something else altogether, but to bring that kind of culture here is an impossible task. Nobody would listen if someone tried, and even if they did try and Production listened, it would open up a whole new can of worms to be giving people responsibilities they're not going to understand. Machines are easier on the mind, harder to misread.
So like clockwork Joe comes in every morning, prepared for the onslaught ahead, which invariably hits as expected. A day that doesn't have problems is a day that doesn't exist - Groundhog Day at the stations are all anyone can expect here and that's not going to change, not in a million years.
To Joe I would say, in a soft voice from a far-off place;
"You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars. No shit, Sherlock, for your atoms were once stardust and you know things you were never given the chance to understand. Life is a series of never-ending Presents and you've come to this place because you know there's something in it.
You grew up and fought your battles to where you are now - a lofty, tight space full of difficulties. You seem to me like a swan battling a current, serene to all as if cruising a millpond, wrestling a slipstream that won't give up.
No-one would guess what goes on underneath, for you protect yourself fiercely while clutching at knowledge and I'd ask you to let go, ever so slightly, of your grip on those things that you know, trusting them to do more good than harm.
People see you as you cannot see yourself, and you cannot garner what they see or why they behave as they do until you begin to uncoil the steel spring that waits for the next subordinate to sniff at your subconscious bait. The tension is real, the outcome reliably negative, and this fire that fights fire only feels fear of the all-consuming, all the time.
Let some peace into your life, turn in on your sword and shield so that you can see them and choose what to do with them - whether to trade them in, polish them up, or pick a new set of kit altogether. You're sharing your daily space with people who just want you to help them feel the way they want to feel about their working life, their day, their version of 'living the dream'. You could be feeling that way, too."
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."