Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Atonement of Romius T.

He had an old computer that was slow to respond to his fingertips, or to the commands he made using his mouse.  He knew in theory there must be a way to make his computer run faster.   But he did not know the answer.

He tried not to let his lack of knowledge about computers bother him.  Computers were a subject that few people knew much of.   He tried to remember that he was not much different from anyone else.

But he still felt like a failure.

So he tried the only trick he knew to stop thinking about his failure. He started thinking about other people, and how they were failures.

He picturing the ineptness of the average computer owner at home, fiddling around with wires and connections, anxiously clicking on files and programs, half hazardously, as if in their sleep, unable to identify the source of why they kept getting viruses.  He pictured the exhaustion they experienced when they discovered all the money they paid for wireless internet was not worth the slow dial up speeds they experienced when online.

He went through the trouble of mentally picturing all those people because he needed something to balance out all the growing feelings that he had against the tide of pathetic people he saw on a daily basis.  The fatties and unsavory types that he saw through his work at the grocery store.

He saw how even though their guts were bursting, they would open packages of Little Debbie snack cakes, and make jokes with the him about how they, "just couldn't wait to get home before they ate one."

He also saw parents and children.

He knew the parents did not change out of their dirty work pants, before they went to the store.  The children he saw never stood still.  The roughhoused and wandered into nearby check stands, and never stood next to the basket as their parents commanded them to.   Yelping children raised on food stamps who typed on messenger phones he could not afford.

But the mental imaginings did not always work.

Sometimes it did not matter what he pictured in his mind.   The mild anxiety, the butterflies, the creepy feeling of disembodiment always returned.

Not only did he have those feelings again, he had The Guilt of Atonement. 

His thoughts were mostly reactions to internal  hypothetical situations, and though the situations were hypothetical, and though the situations were internally derived, whenever he insulted others he felt a need for atonement.  He needed to punish himself for the situation he created as if it existed in real life.

His guilt causes physical problems too.  It caused him neck and shoulders ailments.

He hurt sympathetically to counter the wounds he delivered to people who did not exist, or if they existed, they existed only inside his thoughts, so that his atonement, which they would never know about, which could never be expressed to them, not in words at least , not worlds they would understand, because every thing would be lost when he tried to explain to them, the strangers  he thought about for hours, writing about them in his journal, describing their sweat stained shirts, photographing the dark marks on their underarms with his mental camera, the stains they should have been embarrassed about, but never were, because there was always some who would ignore the pit stains, and out of either poverty or character defect would never buy bleach or chlorine, and even when they did the shirts were torn to pieces in the wash, tattered by the powerful enzymes that remove dirt, so that they clothing instead looked like it was attacked by a plague of moths, and was unfit to wear.

So you see, it was not really his fault that he did not see the dignity of the individual.   Dignity was never anywhere he happened to look.

Were we to look where he looked, we would notice the fact that dignity had gone out to lunch, had forgotten to leave a sign that it was out to lunch, so that the empty cubicle that dignity worked at would appear abandoned, and we could only hope that a supervisor would notice the abandoned cubicle, and put up a help wanted sign, to get somebody to work on getting things back to normal.

Not that he was sure anyone sure we should get things back to normal.  It was bad enough when people went about their business.

If their business included things like getting so drunk and driving to the store to buy more beer, so drunk that he could not sell her alcohol, and so then he told her that if she tried to drive home he would be compelled to call the cops on her, and she forgot to pay her bill, and walked out with a six pack of beer, and walked out to her car, where she got greeted by several police officers, and her only reaction to that fact, was that she hoped he would forget about it, hoped he would forget about how the policeman offered her a ride home, and how she thought about getting indignant about the offer, but then she thought better of it, because she hoped some glimmer of rationality would radiate out at him through her blood shot eyes.

And she hoped that her semblance of rationality and her comment that "this is the first time something like this has  happened to me" would be enough for him to "forget this little incident," and maybe they could "go get a coffee some time."

But he had a hard time "forgetting" how she was 45 and divorced, and that she had spent 2 months in jail for driving drunk to the middle school where she worked , where she somehow managed to avoid hitting any of the school children who would have been walking to school that day, only because it was Sunday.

Though he supposed the view of an approaching SUV would have "sobered" the kids up right away.  Which he figured would have been okay.  As that was the only lesson either one of them could have taught anyway.


Beloved Parrot said...

I like it.

midwest woman said...

Like it I being obtuse or is the last part about a family member?

Romius T. said...

Thanks ladies. I don't think you are being obtuse, midewst, but the story does not come from a family member, jest the outline of story i was told a few days ago about a customer from work, which I then mixed a bit with another happening from work.