Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Night Shift

You're alone, trapped inside of a small box, perhaps 4' wide x 7' high. The walls are mostly glass, but it's so dark beyond them that they might as well have been painted black. You've been trapped inside of this box for several hours. Your only source of companionship is your own thoughts, which, quite frankly, had turned on you after about the 3rd hour. It's February in Maine, which means it has been below freezing outside for hours, fortunately your box is equipped with a small space heater to keep you warm. The only downside of this heater, aside from the humming sound and the inability to control the temperature between hot, hell, and freezing, is that the continuous stream of recirculated dry air has chapped all of your skin and your lips to the point of cracking, and your eyes and mouth are so dry that you feel like you could spit sand.

Your box is in the middle of nowhere and it's pitch black outside. The only light for miles comes from inside your glass box, making you feel extremely vulnerable. You try to see beyond your box, but the glass just reflects you in all your misery.

Suddenly, in the distance, you spot two small lights. You perk up thinking that these lights could momentarily rescue you from hours of loneliness, boredom and paranoid thoughts.

The lights draw closer and you stand up off your wooden stool, which squeaks against the concrete floor as you stand. You hadn't realized that your left butt cheek had fallen asleep and upon standing, you begin to feel tingling down your leg. You briskly shake your leg without taking your eyes off of the lights, which are headed towards you. You reach your arms above your head into a full stretch and let out a long groan. You quickly glance down at your counter, the money is lined up in all denominations, just like you had left it several hours before. It seemed so long ago that you purposefully lined up so many various denominations of change.

The lights are almost upon you, and you try to figure out what type of car they are leading based on the their positioning. You've played this game what feels like a million times before. It's a game you invented to amuse yourself, but you are hardly ever right, and it isn't very amusing to be wrong all the time.

The lights are now coming towards you predictably slower; you can't wait to see who the driver is. You wonder if they'll have exact change or if they'll need change. You hope they'll need change, as it will keep them with you for just a few moments longer. You plan your conversation, maybe you'll just say "thank you", or maybe you'll say "how ya doin' tonight?" and hope that they have a good story to tell you. They never do; they never stay for more than a few seconds, but you know that after they leave you'll be able to think about them for a while and fresh thoughts are always good. You'll wonder where they are headed and then you might make up an amusing little story about their lives.

The lights are now here, but something terrible is happening, the driver is veering to the left. "No!" you want to scream. You watch the car, a blue Honda, drive past and then accelerate into the night.

"Freakin' EZ Pass", you mumble silently as you sulk back onto your hard wooden stool. You glance at your watch, but it has only been minutes since you last checked the time. Then your thoughts take hold of you again.

As I was driving to work the other day, I thought that being a tollbooth collector must be one of the worst vocations ever. This morning while I was mentioning this observation to Shaun, he agreed and said that he had heard that toll-booth collectors have one of the highest suicide rates. I personally can't even imagine being cooped up in a toll booth for one night. I think I would seriously go crazy (crazier?). I don't know what those people make, but they deserve a raise.


Kristy & John said...

Wow Erin you have some great creative writing skills!! You just made a story about a tollbooth guy worth continuing to read!!

I could never work that job - I think I would have to carry a gun if I was stuck in a tollbooth in the middle of nowhere. It is like something out of a scary movie!

Kristy & John said...

Darn word verification!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

T5M said...

I had to! I got SPAMed again, I'll take it off in a week or so...once I feel safe again.

Sorry in advance to everyone!!! :-(

MOM said...

Fabulous story! Got me hooked from the beginning!

K-Sea said...

I'd still rather be a denist.