Why should one sleep? A sort of drowsiness steals on you, tickles you behind the ears, and you feel your eyes closing- but why sleep? You lie down on the sofa and- in a flash, sleep flies away. Miles and miles away. So you rub your eyes, get up, and it starts all over again.
– Garcin, “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre
Poor Garcin. For one thing, he’s dead. In Hell. Two, he’s living- for lack of a more appropriate term- with a woman who does not love him and will not allow him to love her, and a lesbian who wants the other woman, receiving the same response from her as Garcin is getting. That leads him to say later in the play that, “Hell is- other people!”
I couldn’t be farther away from living in Hell right now (does it rain frequently in Hell? Doubtful). I do feel the same level of frustration as he does, however. My position right now isn’t nearly as bad as his – I am alive, afterall, but that feeling of being trapped has started to devour me slowly. Most people in the Yukon will know what I’m talking about, especially the young adults, as will people battling through depression. Relating to my feelings of depression will be common and it’s been explored through the ages in multiple ways. I’m going to continue writing about it, even though they aren’t unique in any way.
My job is allowing me to see two sides to Whitehorse. It’s like living in an aquarium where I get to have my life with the other fish living in the same fish bowl as me, while gazing out at a world I’ll never get to touch. That part of my story isn’t exactly new for me. I’ve always been a gazer. Through high school, I kept my mouth shut out of shyness and to avoid problems. I didn’t say my personal opinion about matters out of fear of being humiliated for my thoughts, or of being on the receiving end of physical punishment because the comments would’ve been humiliating to them instead. Wandering the hallways, I saw the groups of kids laughing and talking about the weekend events, or seeing the pack of students heading off to the smoking section of the schoolyard, or people slipping into the student president’s office. All places I would never be going into even if I wanted to. Now those experiences are re-emerging through my job.
I sit there at night, watching people go as a pack into the bar for a few drinks. Then I watch them come out slightly intoxicated and cracking jokes that are hilarious to them, but which are really not at all funny. I see people leave the hotel all dressed up for the evening’s events, or a tour group file onto the bus to continue their journey. People come by the desk at 4 am to get onto the highway and disappear from my life for good. It’s a weird feeling to be standing there having a conversation with someone you’ll never see again. Meeting them was pure chance, and meeting them again will have to be chance as well.
Outside my glass wall, I hear the noise of the bar next door, the police sirens echoing off the cities’ walls, the cars racing up and down the street, and the clash of bar cultures on the sidewalks. One side being the grunge, baggy-clothing and drinking for drinks’ sake; the other wearing their tight, revealing clothes out looking for the next guy/girl or house party to hook up at. Both are unattractive, and both are causing problems that 90% of the city population isn’t aware of.
So I sit, and watch them make their noise while going up the street. I patiently deal with them when they come inside, most likely unaware of where they exactly are, and even more likely have never stepped inside the establishment before. My patience with them is too great at times. I talk with them, treat them with respect, while hearing other stories of how they get pushed out of other hotels’ lobbies. I wonder if it would be better to lock the door and keep the “unwanted’s” out. But it seems too harsh, so I let them inside. Especially the pretty ones.
They disappear into the night, and I continue with my work. I think about the current divide between management and employees at so many workplaces in this city. I think about what would happen if the young adults started forming unions and started to fight back. We are all not slackers, I think, and a lot of us deserve more. I hear about the problems of work ethics and wonder, “If you want us to work, give us incentives to work.”
Those thoughts of challenging employers slips away like the street partiers as the sun rises and it gets closer to the time of clocking out.
I come home to answer questions from parents, like “What are your dreams?”, “Where do you want to go for a break?”, “Who’s your ideal partner?”
It causes me to pause and to think.
When I was at University, I dreamt daily – perhaps the only good thing about the 9:00 am classes on a Saturday morning – and scribbled ideas into journals about what productions I’d like to do in the future, which theatres to work at, what I’d change in the current show at the Globe theatre. A few years out of school, I’m hit with the realization of how much money I owe. Life isn’t geared towards play; it’s about paying back debts so I can play later.
I have no dreams anymore. I only have concerns. To get to the dreams, I have to get past the concerns, but they seem like mountains to overcome. They surround me. There really is no exit.
And that doesn’t bother me.
I’d rather be alone. I want to think things out, you know; to set my life in order, and one does that better by oneself. But I’m sure we’ll manage to pull along together somehow. I’m no talker. I don’t move much; in fact I’m a peaceful sort of fellow.