Today the clock seemed to tick by perfectly. The day felt neither short nor long. He had two hours to go. He tore open the sip hole of his coffee cup and closed his eyes, wincing a little, anticipating scalding hot water to impact his lips. He opened his eyes and enjoyed a long sip. It’s been reported that there is nothing enjoyable about coffee. Analyses of its taste have left researchers bereft of reasons. Spicy foods are enjoyed by some apparently because of the way it hurts without harming, bitter foods reportedly become increasingly enjoyed as one ages. However coffee holds nothing. So they’ve written it off as a programmed act. They say one trains oneself to enjoy coffee. Regardless of what had happened leading to this moment, he enjoyed this coffee. Black. Hot. Bitter yet not. Salty yet not.
A colleague’s phone rang and brought him back to considering work. He rested himself well back in his chair and moved his mouse’s cursor across the monitor. There was nothing due today. He’d already improved the various things that he could think of in the last few months. Processes. Forms. He selected various icons on his desktop. He looked around. Some were talking on the phone in hushed tones – personal conversation. Some were chatting quietly over their cubicle baffle with occasional furtive looks – personal conversation. Three walked passed with affable smiles and a carefree expression – post meeting break. The receptionist came on the PA, her message starting mid-sentence as she never waited for the system to kick in. Someone was downstairs to see someone upstairs. Someone was likely preparing to impress the other. Thoughts of someone checking their hair in a window reflection, glances at the shine status of their shoes, a not-so-subtle check to make sure their shirt was tucked in.
He was aware of his cynicism, but he was also aware that it did not stem from an innate negativity. It was a cynicism derived from erosion. Years of these superficial interactions with people who would forever be distant. People who smiled at him, who remembered some of the things he liked. People who would avoid eye contact at the mall if he ever stopped working in this office. Hell, people who would probably avoid eye contact today.
He sipped his coffee again. This is the part of work people never mention at dinner parties.