I was wearing clothes I hadn’t worn in years. I felt out of place like I had a giant bug on my forehead. Everyone could see it, but I had no idea it was there. There was a group of peeps waiting for me, expecting me, hoping I would actually show up. They spotted me with grins and motioned over to where they were seated. I took my place on the bench and slowly the feeling of being somewhere I shouldn’t be fell from my shoulders and I took the liberty to look around.
There was no machinery, no smoke stack coming out the roof of the building, just a feeling that something was being fabricated. That there was a part of me that did belong in this building because it had been created here. It was a void in my brain that I had blocked out for too many years and after only a couple of minutes of returning it was there screaming at me that something was wrong with me. Maybe I should come back here more often.
Then the white man in charge stood up and referred to people seated throughout the building detailing the roles they would be playing throughout the ceremony.
There was singing.
The eyes were up, or at least some of them were. Most were participating in the music that was being required. But there were those few, those ones that didn’t seem to care, that weren’t there by their choice. Those few whose heads were falling into their hands that were enduring. As the assembly line began, they were few that were floating along and would need to be pulled by QC sitting at the front of the room.
The rollers come to a stop halting the line. Everyone closes their eyes, even the ones who were defiantly not singing. One person walks to the front of the line so everyone can hear and then speaks. When they finish, all eyes are opened a glorious, one word group chant is recited and the line begins moving again. Some keep their heads up, listening, thinking. The others, well, they drop their eyes and soon their heads are in their hands, waiting, enduring, wishing they could get up and walk out and do something that wasn’t whatever the hell this is they are being a part of.
The white man in charge gets up and says some more stuff that has to do with what it is they are creating today. She stands up and starts to talk. It’s clear she has no formal training in public speaking. Her ideas are vulgar and demonstrative of the fact that she has no genuine idea of what happens outside these walls.
I’m slowly being dragged along with the rest. I raise my head from my hands and look around. The number of heads in hands has multiplied exponentially. The only ones with their eyes open are the ones directly involved with the stories she is spewing. No one else cares. This is just another day. Just another time when they are being stamped out like cheap, metal trinkets as the ideas they claim to espouse are reinforced by going to the place required by those beliefs.
I drop my head back into my hands and wish I could sleep or have another shot of whiskey. I’m just here because. I start to think of the things I would rather be doing and soon the list is so long I can’t remember where I started. I wonder how many others are asking themselves the same questions. And I wonder what I could accomplish with the man power sitting, doing nothing, wishing they could be doing anything else. I contemplate the world we could create, the good we could do with those people sitting wishing they were doing something else. Anything else.
She’s still talking. Her voice has become a grating sound scratching its way through my brain. I feel like that bug has returned and all I can think about is how to get out of this situation and how to get everyone else to follow me and I improvise a plan. I beg myself to say something, to stand up. I look at the clock. She’s still talking.
I hope the propagandists by deed are right because I think what is about to happen is what they would call direct democracy.
I jump off the assembly line and run to the front. Suddenly everyone is awake. Suddenly everyone is looking to see what it is that I am doing. With a raised fist, I push her away from the microphone. I take a deep breath and begin. I can’t recall exactly what I said. I can only remember the feeling of being above myself watching as I call them all to action, to lift their heads and use their hands to create something instead of just sitting, wishing they were somewhere else. I ask them to think about the world they want and to leave this factory and join me to create a place where people aren’t stamped out like metal trinkets. A world where we can take care of each other without someone telling us we should, where no one ends up living on the streets because we all give a shit and use our time to build that society. I realize my fist is still raised and I come back into my body. Their eyes are big and I’m not entirely certain that I even said something. The white man in charge stands up and takes back over the microphone. I return to my seat and put my head back in my hands.
The assembly line returns to its regularly scheduled programming. The next speaker gets up and starts to go through the same routine as the first. Maybe they were wrong. Maybe my deed wasn’t big enough. Maybe I should have stayed in my seat. Maybe I did. One thing is for sure, I still wish I wasn’t here and the majority of the people around me feel the same way.
Another song. Another halt. Another person to the front, eyes shut, head lowered. Another group recital of a one word chant. And then everyone jumps out of their seats as if nothing had happened. Smiling, happy to be another metal trinket stamped out by an assembly line they don’t even know they are on.
I walk out of the building.