It’s very corporate. I remember the qualifications that i set when i started college: nothing where i primarily spend time with computers, and nothing too corporate. I cannot help but wonder: did i compromise, or just change my mind?
I am usually the first in the building from my department, save for the other intern. At eight fifteen i dutifully check all of my email accounts and scan CNN and Metafilter for news as i drink my Paradise Lust, though i tend to stretch my muffin (alternately blueberry and chocolate) until quarter of nine. Really, though, my working day starts the previous working evening, because i have been staying late. Not obscenely, workaholic late. No. Just late enough to finish whatever i have in front of me. It is the business world’s version of the Clean Plate Club. Which means that the next morning at nine, after i have resolved my urgent emails and made myself some tea, i have to start the process all over again. From a clean plate.
The hours between are immaterial, marked by endlessly attentive hard work punctuated by trips to the water cooler, bathroom, director’s office, and outside world. To the latter there is but one venture, which i prefer to enjoy in solitude (though i am not rude enough to turn down anyone’s invitation). My co-workers are adamant about this: you really ought to escape while you can. For lunch, that is. I found their warning ominous at first, but i understand it now. Air is out there; air that we can only look at through our reinforced unopenable windows. Yet, once i am outside i always want to return — how is it that i can feel so lost and alone in the middle of my city during my hour of lunch?
Thus, every day i return with a half an hour to spare, always with some iteration of chicken caesar salad. One day it was in a wrap, the next on a sandwich, the third with a side of salmon sushi. Somehow the predictability cheers me in how it thwarts the tiny “what did you have today” conversations that crop up around three-thirty when everyone is sated and ready to leave. I am usually ready to leave at ten thirty, but i change my mind by lunch, opting instead to stay late… to power through… to clean my plate.
In my first paycheck i cleared eighty two cents on every dollar, which is one and a half cents better than i did in Admissions. I do not get upset; i do not tithe on the behalf of god, and so i tithe to capitalism instead. Even after that, i am left with an unreal amount of money. Did i earn that? For my work? Really? I boggle myself for a second, too excited by the spending possibilities of my modestly large check, and marvelling that i could be worth over fifty thousand dollars a year with a bachelor’s degree.
I have yet to deposit it. There are so many things to buy, to see, to hear, that i am afraid to turn their numerals and decimals into cents and dollars that i can spend. At the top of my list are a four-track, a laptop, a guitar, and trips to the movies. I imagine a different list superimposed on top of my own: a mortgage, a washing machine, car insurance, and trips to the movies. People making less than i am have that list rather than my own, yet cannot afford to be paralyzed by indecision between buying an actual four-track or simulating it with mixing software.
Indecision is a priceless luxury that earning potential can often afford, and i am indecisive by my very nature. So, did i compromise, or just change my mind?