We wear boredom and routine like armor. At work in the shop, I inhabit the same chair, strum the same calculator, answer the same phone and field the same damn questions I’ve been dealing with for 20 years. The day to day, same ol same ol is a stultifying fortress we sit inside. Nothing ever changes, right? Until news comes over the radio–which usually plays the oldies because god forbid we should sing new lyrics–news comes over the radio that a gunman is lose in the neighborhood.
In Anchorage last week a man fired shots at a police officer and fled on foot. With his gun. This was two blocks from our shop. A huge man-hunt ensued. They blocked roads. Knocked door to door. Released the hounds and called in the chopper. We had a description. White guy with a gun. That was it. I locked the doors and went back to my desk, and watched for white guys who might be walking through our parking lot for no good reason. Let me tell you, when the news is telling you a gunman is on the loose, every guy that walks through your parking lot has no good reason. They’re all scumbags, rapists, psychopaths. Every man is a suspect. Every man hides a gun.
Let me just say, they caught the guy the next day, clear across town walking around in another neighborhood where he was upsetting status quo for other people, and therefore not my problem anymore, right?
Two things about this whole thing strike me: 1) There was a gunman loose within blocks of our shop and I kept working. I added and subtracted numbers, as if that were going to save me. Oh, he won’t come in here because I’m working. I have to have these invoices done by 2pm. And I always have these invoices done by 2pm. These invoices are ‘perennial with the earth.’ Nothing will stop the billing of a customer! And 2) Every man I saw walking became a suspect. Not just a suspect. A dirtbag. A piece of shit. A monster to set the dogs on. My distrust is deep. Maybe that’s good. It might keep me alive someday. But maybe it’s also disgusting.