Monday, February 21, 2011

Conditioned- A Story in Five Parts- Part One

Day One

I walk into my office. Or the building where I’m told my office is located. I expect my new boss to greet me there. They’re not there. I ask for them at the front desk, am told to wait, take a seat with the others. The guy on my left has some sort-of skin condition. I don’t know what it is, just that it makes all the skin on his face and scalp flake off in large, powdery white chunks. I half-wonder if I can catch it by sitting there. I hope not.

My boss arrives, apologizes for being late. Walks me back to my office. I say back because there is technically a short hallway leading there but the whole building is basically one large mass, and the waiting area sits right in the middle. There’s a copy machine next to the door, we have to push through some people to get in. Inside there are three desks haphazardly arraigned, one computer sitting on a wobbly desktop- the kind of thing you’d buy at Staples for thirty bucks and have to kick yourself when it broke cause you should’ve known better. My desk is shoved up against the back wall. I take a seat, am told to start by seeing if I can log onto the system. I can.

My boss says ‘great’ and tells me to just start there, that he’ll run back to his office and start e-mailing me everything. He reminds me that it’ll take a little time to get acclimated, tells me not to get overwhelmed, says to be patient. He leaves, frazzled by his phone which hasn’t stopped ringing for the two minutes he’s been here with me. I wonder if I’m gonna get any training, hope I will.

Someone in the waiting room starts crying. Then screaming and cursing while she cries. I hear a high-pitched soft-spoken voice trying to console the crying woman. She cries louder. I wonder what I should do- should I try to talk her down? Her screams make my gut clench, my adrenaline pump. What’s it called? Fight or flight? I should know that. Her crying gets louder and continues. I go out to see if I can help.


  1. Intimidating to log on here after a vacation and find five chapters from five days. Reading over them, how did you decide to carve them up at these points? Did you write one each day? Cut at a particular thematic point?

  2. Honestly, I wrote it all at once and cut them up with the intention (don't know if it came out this way) of creating a sense of time passing. The numbered days were there as benchmarks to mark the progression of the breakdown.


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