John Meyers

Gradations of Death

Male Employee #34565 looks and smells perfect. I can’t imagine the effort it takes to achieve this level of perfection, nor can I imagine his motivation. When he walks by me I feel nothing. I believe he is dead.

Male Employee #56786 knows the computer he wants. It must be lightweight, rose gold in color and smooth to the touch. Inside it must have the right components. If one component is wrong, he will get angry and demand a different computer. This man is also dead.

Male Employee #59117 is talking to me about analytics, deliverables, and mindshare. I am looking through his head at the wall behind him. His right eye is twitching like Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movies. He will stay up late tonight thinking about analytics, deliverables, and mindshare. He is dead.

Female Employee #84675 walks back and forth to the break room many times a day. Coffee in the morning. Tea in the afternoon. Water — lots of it — throughout the day. It is heartbreaking to consider the lock-step nature of her routine. But the way she moves is notable. She glides when she walks, a graceful sway that is difficult to describe. She seems unaware of the uniqueness of her movement and this lack of awareness is charming. With her we observe equal parts death and life, each part sort of competing for primacy throughout the day.

Male Employee #28896 is madly in love with a co-worker who sometimes ignores him. He is driving himself crazy trying to figure out the score. He often provides me with status reports, and has cried once or twice when describing his feelings. Normally I would say he is dead, but his devotion to the cause is impressive. With him we have a bit of life mixed in with the death.

Male employee #77689 is home for the holidays, playing quarterback in a touch football game populated by old friends who are now so old they’ve added their children to the rosters. One of these children wears a Georgetown jersey that hangs below his knees. He is an excellent player and has caught several passes today despite being manhandled by older kids. Toward the end of the game, male employee #77689 notices the boy is open again and throws him the ball. The boy is ready. He is bouncing on his toes, buzzing electrically, checking over his shoulder for the nearest defender. He is not dead.

I say all this with envy. If I could live comfortably as these people do, I would be happy. Instead I sit in isolation, wondering how much time I have left and whether I will ever make good use of this time. I often think about the end, which I can see on the horizon. If someone were to throw me a football I believe it would hit me in the face and I would feel nothing.