Arghh! He hung up the phone in a panic. He was late, but for the fifth time this week. Clearly, Rob was going to be fired.
He took a deep breathe and tried to clear his voice enough to make it sound like he wasn’t just waking up.
“Hello, Janice? Hi It’s Rob, I’m running late today…yeah…I, Uh, my son was sick so I had to go take him to the hospital. Yeah, great thanks.”
When he hung up the phone, he was surprised by a number of things, namely that he’d lied about his kid being sick, and worse, that he said he had a kid. Rob was used to, or liked to consider himself a nice upstanding guy. As he raced to the bathroom, brushing his teeth and matting down his bed head, he kept asking himself why he felt the need to lie about something, and to lie so big. His job was only temporary, freelance, fleeting. Even if the magazine he was working at never called him back, in fact even if he never did any copywriting again, he’d be fine.
Three weeks ago, Rob was in California, taking meetings about a screenplay he wrote. He felt powerless, with no control over what he was doing in life, but he did feel certain about a few things. Namely, the smoothies were amazing, he liked having a tan in the winter, and he really enjoyed being able to say he was going to meetings about his screenplay. It was pretentious and vain and self centered the way he would bring it up at parties, gatherings, or even standing next to people in the urinal, making small take. But atleast he had that.
Now, back in New York, where it was cold, he noticed he kept trying to sabotage his freelance work, had found excuses to make him seem unworthy of being hirable, was always tossing and turning in his sleep.
“Maybe it’s time to quit,” he told Cherise.
“Can you afford to do that?” she responded.
“Well, no, but what are the alternatives, keep going until I get hired full time, keep doing this shit for the rest of my life, he said back, sipping his Macchiato.
"I think you’re being overdramatic. It’s not like you shovel coal or clean asbestos, you do light office work in a cubicle where they give you free Fiji waters in the fridge. Maybe you should come down from your high horse, Norma Ray.”
Rob spent the next three weeks trying to figure out if he could be in the city miserable. He would look at the people around him in the park, when he would take lunch, and they looked so happy, the ones who were jogging, or playing with their kids. And then there were the others, the ones who like him, were clearly on borrowed time, counting down every minute until they had to be back at their windowless cubicle, resenting these, these people with their happiness.
Rob took a bit of his donut, threw the crumbs at the pigeons, took out his phone and sent a text message.
Message: Do you want my couch. Be back in ? Going to LA.
She replied back quickly.
Message: That couch is hideous. Throw it out.