I've always thought that monotony is the bane of life, when life is supposed to be colourful. And there I was, observing a dripping bag trickling poison into life - a man holding onto the same job, at the same place, serving the same stuff to the same sets of customers for at least the last twelve years.
I cringed at the mere thought of me in his shoes.
Six jobs in the last eight years - that's how disgusted I am and deal with monotony. Alarm screaming, snooze, more screaming, getting up, traffic, familiar routines, lunch, more familiar routines, traffic, dinner, tv, boredom-induced sleeping, day break, alarm screaming, snooze ... - my heart aches just thinking about the cycle. It won't be so bad, if the routine need no constant pep talking, incessant pumping up and continuous patting on the back to keep it going. And the thing that's more wretched than monotony is - more forthcoming monotonies. The thoughts of going through the tunnel of monotony again the next day weighs heavier than going through the tunnel of monotony itself. The moment I started to feel such weigh and stranglehold, I started to look for another job, lest I would die of suffocation.
After my third job as a stationery salesman, I started to suspect that there must be something wrong. There must be something I'm not seeing that everybody else see, everybody else who stay in their jobs for more than two years, consecutively. Sure, I have after-work activities and weekends to oil those dreadful routines, but work taking up more than three quarters of my life? Surely, there must be more?
Marriage during my fourth job didn't change much of my mentality towards work. Still, life got sweeter - after work, and during weekends, and public holidays, and the annual vacation. But the arrival of my wife's pregnancy a few months ago did.
After the excitement of being a father for the first time subsided, for also the first time, I started to feel the hot breathes of the monster called life down my neck. As the birth of my first child approaches, I feel my grips on my fight against monotony loosening, escaping through another job suddenly seems an irresponsible option. It does seem I have to somehow stick it out with this job, which took me back to the area where I started with my first job.
Back then, I was working as an account clerk, and my favourite place was a coffee shop near the office. No delicious food and coffee that tastes so-so, I guess that's why it wasn't crowded most of the times. It was my favourite because it had enough fans and not many walls to make the place cooling, it's quiet, and I don't have to wait for a table to have an enjoyable time reading my newspaper. That's the highlight of my workday.
After eight years during which I have changed six jobs, it's run by the same man, wearing seemingly the same T-shirt and apron, and with a slightly balder head. It's not that I was surprised to see him there taking my order of drink, but when I saw him bringing my cup of coffee to me, my mind was flashing like crazy, in black and white, with these words - monotony is the bane of life, monotony is the bane of life, monotony ... And this man had been there for at least twelve years - when I first frequented the place, he'd already been there for four years.
He's not the only person who has achieved the "feat". And I often wonder how do they dilute the tortures of such humdrums. Do they have no feelings? What are their secrets?
As he sat and rested behind the counter, I was beginning to suspect he wasn't actually better than me. His smile disappeared and his face started to show signs of weariness. Just as I sighed in the same weariness, I saw his tired face blossoming into a smile that only genuine happiness will bring. As I turned towards the direction of his smile, I saw a young boy in school uniform walking into the shop, humming a little tune, wearing the same kind of smile. I didn't immediately recognise the face, but slowly, an image of a father cooing a toddler from eight years ago surfaced ...
I still think that monotony is the bane of life, but maybe I was drilling at the wrong direction all these times. Perhaps survival being the most important part of our lives doesn't allow us to think twice about our livelihoods. Love it or hate it, all we can do is to grind our teeth, learn to live with it and get on with it. Perhaps we don't need an antidote to this bane in this significant part of our lives. Maybe what we need is a justification, especially when it relates to the happiness and well-being of our loved ones.