I’ve lived in my house for 7 years. And almost every single day around lunchtime, weather permitting, I’ve seen the same guy walk through my subdivision. Same fairly fast gait. Hands in pockets. Ears adoring headphones, presumably attached to an iPod or other music storage device.
I’ve never spoken to him but sometimes I lift my hand in a salute-like wave.
Don’t ask me why, but I’ve made up an entire story about him. Which, because I have nothing better to do, I’m going to share with you.
Presenting Todd. Because, I’m sure his name is Todd. Or Brad. But, we’ll stick with Todd…
He punches in at precisely 9am, every single day. He is proud of his promptness, it’s something he feels distinguishes him from all the others. It’s an accomplishment that has been noted from his boss, who has commended him numerous times, citing him as an example to the others who can’t seem to punch in on time.
He heads over to his bare cubicle positioned smack in the middle of a row of similar, yet decorated, cubicles. He doesn’t believe in bringing character to his work environment. Nor does he believe in mixing work with pleasure.
Work is work. Pleasure is, well, rare for him.
He sits down and places his light brown sweater on. It’s always too chilly at the office in the morning. He really wishes that someone would listen to his complaints and have the heat scheduled to turn earlier so that it was more comfortable.
Co-workers start punching in and walking toward their own cubicles. They always make sure to say hi to him, to which he gives the obligatory response. Then, they congregate in groups, chatting and laughing while he fires up his computer to begin entering data.
At exactly 10:15, he takes a bathroom break and stops at the vending machine to buy a bottle of water, which he refills throughout the day. His mother always told him that staying hydrated is good for the body and soul.
He misses his mother. He sits back down at his ergonomically correct desk chair and picks up his cell phone, hitting number one on his speed dial. He checks in with her every day at this time.
Then, he goes back to work. Tuning out all the quiet gossip and whispered giggles, he clicks away on his keyboard. He wonders, only for an instant, if they ever talk about him. What’s there to talk about anyways, he catches himself shrugging and looks around to see if anyone notices.
The hours tick by as slowly as usual. Lunch time finally arrives. He pulls the brown sack from his drawer and unpacks the lunch he had packed the night before. Tuna, carrots, an apple and a bag of chips. The only thing he ever changes is the sandwich. Sometimes he has turkey, sometimes he just has plain american cheese.
When he is done eating, he places all the generic brand, empty, zipper sandwich bags neatly into his drawer to bring home and reuse for tomorrows lunch. The brown paper sack he crumples up and tosses it into the standard, blue garbage container that is the same one throughout all cubicles.
He stands straight up, places on his black fleece hoodie, hooks up his iPod to the speakers and heads out for his walk.
He always walks the same path, for the past seven years he has been employed. He heads through the parking lot, down the sidewalk and into the neighboring subdivision. He likes the quiet peacefulness of his daily walk. He appreciates the monotony of the exact same path. He wasn’t one for change or surprises.
He likes his life, exactly the way it is.
With hands in his pockets and looking straight ahead, he avoids making eye contact with anyone who may be outside. He doesn’t really stop to smell the roses, ever. He walks to walk. To get exercise. He was never one to check his surroundings, what’s the point really, he doesn’t live in this neighborhood. He simply was using it for it’s conduciveness to walking.
He hears a car coming so he walks closer to the curb. He always holds his breath a little out of fear that the car might not see him. He releases it in a puff as it passes by, not noticing the same silver car that passes by him almost daily.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the drivers hand raise in a salutation. He looks straight ahead and nods slightly in acknowledgement, after all, he is using her streets as a treadmill.
He returns to the office and punches in after his 30 minute, heart healthy walk and returns to his cubicle where he will sit working silently until the clock strikes 5. Then, he punches out, climbs into his bland silver car and heads home where he will have dinner alone, call his mother, drink a non-alcoholic beer and watch television until he falls asleep.
When the alarm wakens him at 7:30 am, he begins the exact thing again. He calls his mother before he leaves and promises her, once again, that he really likes his life exactly the way it is.