worn-off shoes


His eyes were bloodshot, and his breath heavy. He was the kind of man who never ran from anything. The kind your brain would arm-twist you not to walk towards. He sat on the seat closest to the door. Or rather, the rest of the attendees sat on their chairs as his chair carried him – like the Greek god he was.

“Not a wobble nor a squeak. These must be good hardwood chairs.” I thought. He had on a black t-shirt paired with dark blue jeans, brown leather boots, and a black jacket to match. His head, perched evenly on the collar of his coat, was a portrait of the estranged relationship he must have had with his barber.

He cleared his voice, “Hi, everyone. My name is Jeremy. I’m a banker, and I’m an alcoholic.” We all clapped for him. Looking at him, I thought, “No, this can’t be. What does this guy take us for?” He couldn’t be a Jeremy. I had seen enough Jeremys to know how soft one’s face must appear for your parents to go with the name Jeremy. And what did he bank? Trophies from his hunting?

“Give us a break. We’ve watched enough crime thrillers to spot a criminal.” That’s what I wished I had said to him, but instead, I hummed along to the chorus, “Hi, Jeremy.”

However, a part of me, a self-loathing part, would have loved to see how my alternative replies would have turned out, assuming I would still have my eyes in their sockets.

I did prefer not to be in this room, but unfortunately, the justice system thought I should. I had to attend to this utter boredom. I couldn’t believe it had come down to this – sitting in a circle with a group of strangers who had problems that most of them had chosen for themselves. I didn’t choose to be here. I didn’t want to be here. Worse of, sitting with a bunch of folks who have chosen to be here. What kind of person chooses and pays to attend this?
I needed to find a way out.

“Birds of a feather flock together,” they say. I should’ve been sticking around people that were bubbling over with positive influence. But then, if I had heeded this advice, I wouldn’t be here in the first place, would I?

But no, I blame the motivational speakers that attended our school when I was younger. They did give us these life principles to live by, principles they swore would guarantee our successes in the future. While I did keep to some, there was a lot that may have missed my ears and fell straight into the bin. (They would have made for some nice three-pointer shots.) But then, to be honest, they didn’t make it easy to believe their motivational speeches. They dramatized them intensely.

Yet, I did stick to a good number of them. I visualized my future, drew out vision boards, and participated in passion-discovery activities. I followed their script to success. I spent the long hours studying and did my time in the library. And true to word, I managed to ace my final exams.

But they never talked about the bunch of CVs I had to print out, the number of doors I had to go knocking, and the number of offices I had to leave without success – leaving a part of my soul each time. Job hunting became the job, and my soul seemed to be the prey.

So now I sit on this sturdy, hardwood chair listening to these people’s troubles. I sit waiting for my turn to speak. Although, it’s not like I have to organize my thoughts. I’m crystal on how much I want to say – very little. I would opt to stay quiet, but unfortunately, I must speak. Oh, hurray, what a joy.

Photo by Oziel Gómez on Unsplash

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