[Did you read the contract?, 635 words, Genre: Experimental]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
It was for a job interview, a call centre was recruiting en mass for customer service positions. From the look of things the interviewers already knew who they were going to hire, the events that followed were nothing more than a custom. Jackson was doing well, exhibiting all the right behaviours and giving all the right answers. Then the interviewers asked a question, one that was seemingly out of left field, “If you had to live out the rest of your life as a single age, what age would you be?”
Jackson thought about it. He would not want to be too young. Youth may have its advantages, but as a youth you could never be taken seriously. The twenties were often used as a testing ground, an experimental phase in an individual’s life. He didn’t want to be too old either, he was now forty and knew, all too well, how it disabled you from partaking in the beauty of youth. “Thirty.” He answered, it was a good age. Not too old to discount one’s self from the experiences of youth and not too young to discount one’s self from the maturity that age brings.
Jackson performed well in the interview. Later that day he received the phone call stating that he had been selected by the employer. He went in the next day to sign the appropriate contracts and papers. Work would start the following Monday.
Monday arrived and training for the position commenced. As he looked around the workplace at those already on the phones he noticed something, there was an ageless quality to their faces. Those in training with him were from a variety of backgrounds. After speaking to a few of them, he discovered a disparity between his character and theirs’. He would not make friends easily.
Training was strenuous as they hammered as much information into the shortest period of time as possible. Jackson would go into work and be completely worn out by the end of the day. At home, he would comfort himself by chain smoking cigarettes and drinking a couple of glasses of wine. Every night, before he went to sleep, he would brush his teeth and look into the mirror, giving himself a pep talk before finding rest.
After the first week of training, he started to notice things. Mainly, the appearance of others in training with him. They were changing, it was subtle at first, but he began to notice how the rings around some people’s eyes were disappearing. With others, the younger ones, they were developing crow’s feet where they hadn’t had any. Slight alterations were occurring in the faces around him. That night, before going to sleep, he looked into the mirror and saw a younger version of himself staring back. Jesus Christ! What was happening?
At work the next day he decided to ask questions. He approached one of the managers. The manager dismissed his questions and responded, “It can all be found in your contract.”
That evening he decided to read through his contract thoroughly. At the end of reading through his contract he felt thoroughly pissed off. There was nothing in there to account for the alterations of age that he had been witnessing, but he felt that he was being screwed over. Now he knew exactly how he was being fucked. Not that he didn’t know that already, but reading the thing was incredibly depressing. He couldn’t do anything about it. He now knew the extent to which the fucking occurred.
He looked in the mirror again and saw his forty year old face staring back at him. At work the next day there was nothing peculiar about the other employee’s appearances. He put down his previous line of thought to stress and continued on with the job.