Endurance

One more day to my 5th week of work.  I’m exhausted and don’t seem to be adjusting to the hours or the physical demands.  I spend my hours dreaming of ways to escape and dance in the daffodils again, in the daylight.  Maybe, by the time they are in bloom again.

Perhaps my dreams will never really come true, but at least I have them.  They keep me going.

But without dreams, and hope, how does one endure this kind of life?  So many metaphors have come to mind since I started this job, trying to find a way to explain how un-human it is.  Ant colonies come to mind.   These insects create a nearly unstoppable force because the collective overrides the needs of any single individual.  When one expires, they march over it, or drag it off.  Nothing stops.

Two nights ago someone collapsed in the Pick Mod.  No one knows for how long.  We saw medical staff going in to check right as we were coming back from our 30 minute lunch.  Communication out of the work area isn’t possible.  No way to call for help or send anyone a message from an area of approximately 300 by 140 paces wide.  Someone commented they had seen a defibrillator.   Maybe just a precaution.   But I imagined if someone was lying on the floor out in the work area at this point in the shift, they had been there at least 30 minutes if not more.

Our post-lunch instructions and stretches convened as scheduled with no comment ever about what had happened, or who it was.  Two days later, still no one knew.   Even more interestingly, no one seemed to care.  I heard one woman say, “We lost a few at my other job too.  Mostly heart attacks.”   I know performance statistics don’t allow for any pause to reflect.  Nothing can stop.

The other image that continually comes to my mind as I work comes from Star Trek.  I am not a huge fan, but have seen most of The Next Generation series.  In this modern mythology there is a species called The Borg.  They are a blend of biology and machine, and as in the example above, the collective is all that matters.  The biological organism is only made to serve the machine, to further its ends, which is to continually assimilate everything and everyone it encounters.  The famous line repeats, “Resistance is futile.”  Humans that become assimilated are fitted with mechanical components and linked up to the mind that controls the movements of all members.  None of the members act outside of their directives.

One characteristic of the Borg is that they do not have the time, need, or interest to acknowledge other members of the group, or even any intruder for that matter, unless someone causes a disturbance or obstacle to their directives.  I have never been in a work situation where humans have learned to behave as if other humans within 12 inches of their own personal space, do not exist.  This is common on subways, and other crowded public areas, but I have never seen co-workers like this until now.  Eventually, you learn to adapt.  You manage to ignore the awkward feeling of silence and not greeting each other.  Fatigue and the mind numb of the incessant beeping scanner (your new appendage) that gives you your directives all night long help you to find other people irrelevant.   You cannot do anything other than what the scanner directs, or in any different order.

Not everyone succumbs.  Some people have a spirit that can’t be squashed by their environment.  A smile, a voice humming a tune, and some like me who are great at creating the “disturbance” factor that gives everyone a chance to remember, oh yes we are still human.  I really didn’t know I could hit the plastic bins on the wall hard enough to make them fall to the ground!   And someone else speculated I needed to get my cart insured.  It’s a special gift.

But again, I know our society has created this way of life so unlike what the Creator gave to us.  We feed into it and perpetuate it because it gives us things we want.  As long as we want them, we will be forced to trade in much of the Divine beauty, creativity, joy, freedom, that we were given at birth.  We were made in His image.  I know these gifts can be found in spite of circumstances we find ourselves in, whether financial, physical, or mental pressures bear down on us.  Life is stronger, humans will not be fully assimilated, no matter how much it benefits the machine.

Here are the words to a song that resonated deeply with me this week.

Explorers
by Muse

Once I hoped
To seek the new and unknown
This planet’s overrun
There’s nothing left for you or for me
Don’t give in, we can
Walk through the fields
And feeling nature’s glow
But all the land is owned
There’s none left for you or for me

Who will win?
‘Cause I concede

Free me
Free me
Free me from this world
I don’t belong here
It was a mistake imprisoning my soul
Can you free me
Free me from this world

A world lush in bloom
With rivers running wild
They’ll be re-routed South
With none left for you or for me
Don’t give in
Hear the engines roar
And save our crops from drought
But when the black gold’s in doubt
There’s none left for you or for me

Fuse helium-3
Our last hope

Free me
Free me
Free me from this world
We don’t belong here
It was a mistake imprisoning our souls
Can you free me
Free me from this world

Free me
I’ll free you
Free us from this world
We don’t belong here
It was a mistake imprisoning our souls
Can you free me
Free me from this world

Running around in circles feeling caged
By endless rules
Can you free me, free me from this world

Go to sleep

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