Educated By Kathryn Roberts

April 10, 2014 Comments Off on Educated By Kathryn Roberts

Life found me twenty-three, downtown and colleged, apologized into a job. The paned glass frame of graduated paper hanging above the door jamb dictated I earn its keep. Even in sleep it stared out at me, interrupting my dreams with demands for fulfilling. Cornered to the first city block, I officed daily, eight to later, trying to make the urban legend of nine to five with time for lunch encompass the files closing in the dark during mid-winter when the sun joined the moon for drinks before I even hit the subway.

But here’s what I discovered: by the time you’re above loving a job and have started settling for getting set-up with groceries each week, you develop a taste for receiving away with. I stole seconds at first, inching an extra paid ten from the faucet that took a third-look to make sure it stopped dripping, another fifteen pretending the copy machine needed sheeting, a half-minute readjusting my ergonomic chair’s headrest. When my pay raise failed to enact, I escalated to minutes explained as a bad bladder, an influx of emails asking for pertinent information, difficulty reading the plastic tabs on file folders as I sorted, a pressing need for paperclips and staples, and elevatoring to accounts payable for every individual page.

My bosses rotated, and I circled through them. The first was Ivy-beleaguered into believing he was hot-shot for secretaries with a lesser degree. I penciled myself into his daytimer for nights thrice weekly, spiking into his office in the lapse between punch-out and pushing vacuum cleaners. We kissed like turtles, tonguing in and out of his mouth to my shell, crawling slowly over arms and all desked below fluorescent. The second worked courage through shy investors and urged me into day trades between the water cooler and her clever condo. She taught me nothing but the purpose for awkward furniture: to opportune positional variants.

The third? We coaxed elliptically.

When I quit for a different corner, a cubicle with dividers, I packed my oversized purse with extra bags, which I pulled out and uncrinkled into containers for the last day heist. I sacked chewed pens, strands of hair loosed from over-twirling harbored along the edges of keys — specifically a and r — and caps lock, stubbed erasers pressured down to shaped oddities, a brand new package of binder clips able to secure a baker’s dozen of paired socks to clothesline. I wondered at a big enough bag to hold the third boss but he wouldn’t go willingly and I hadn’t yet graduated to kidnapping.

My final discovery: the most educated thing about me was how I buttoned my blouse up my back so my new bosses knew exactly what they were looking at when they walked by me working.

© 2013 Kathryn Roberts

Kathryn Roberts received her BFA from Goddard College, where she served as Managing Editor of Guideword. Her work has appeared in print and online in various journals, including Pithead Chapel, Black Heart Magazine, and Slush Pile, and her debut novel is forthcoming from Fomite Press in spring 2014. She currently lives in Vermont, where she writes, paints, and tries to keep warm in the snow.

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