Rendered Fat Content


Remember the satisfaction a hall pass could bring? It meant that I was special, released from the regular programming, on a formally sanctioned mission away from the ordinary. Whether a restroom or an extracurricular activity called, I was on my own, traversing otherwise no-man’s land, bullet-proofed for the duration. Even if that particularly hostile assistant principal noticed me and asked, I carried a guaranteed get out of jail free card, transforming this usual suspect into a Teflon® visitor.

Supposedly all grown up now, I gain a certain self-satisfaction wearing the badge of a visiting contractor. I have a desk drawer half-filled with used visitor badges, each a testament to my past temporarily special statuses. Security would welcome me, seek my signature, then pass me a custom-made credential before opening the gates to the compound. I’d usually require an escort as if a visiting dignitary, an envoy from the future.

Behind the fence at Los Alamos, escorts must even accompany visitors to the restroom, a level of attention my shy bladder never learned to fully appreciate. Most places, I’d feel like some long-lost cousin, noteworthy from the routine, and noticed. Often, my presence would have been whispered about before I arrived, and I’d be seen no matter how otherwise invisible I felt inside. I’d wrestle then with my Aspergery side and assume my best imitation of a hale fellow, well met.

Today, library, credit, and treasured-customer cards, even cents off coupons clipped from the Sunday supplement satisfy a similar aspiration, to be recognized as uniquely present, one of the insiders given special dispensation. As a consultant, this special status cuts several ways. It barricades against ever belonging within the visited organization. Some seem suspicious; others, certainly and justifiably skeptical. That visitor badge means I was not chosen as one of the best and brightest by the scrupulous selection machine that sorted out every employee. It might mean, though, that I’ve somehow transcended that very selection process, that I might come from another dimension altogether. I pretend to have come from another dimension.

The machine seems more than mindless, but soul-less and self-less, too. From within the grinding gears, identifying anything unique about anyone seems simply impossible. We are numbers there, data waiting to be classified, analyzed, and assigned. We gain few respites from this crushing presence save the sometimes salvation gained from stepping into a strangely empty, echoing hallway while everyone else on this side of the known universe sits in chains following someone else’s meaningless lesson plan. We make our own way then, choosing trajectory and cadence. We will arrive without anyone guiding our footsteps or monitoring our passage. We will taste the lead pencil sharpness of freedom and smell the hot lunch prep in the cafeteria as we pass. It’s a wonder we ever return.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver