Nippon works on the Shape Dispatch Desk. Last Friday he went to the dentist to have two teeth out. The dentist ended up removing twelve. Twelve! That’s over a third of the traditional thirty-two adult tooth quota. He’s twenty-four years old and has – or had – twelve rotten teeth. A dozen decaying fangs. How does that happen? Was he brushing with jam and rinsing with Sunny Delight? Moisturising his gums with Lemon Curd? Flossing with spaghetti?
Anyway, Nippon hasn’t been saying a lot this week. Or even opening his mouth much. His lips are vacuum sealed. He’s like a fashion model, all pouts and smouldering glances. Only once did I see him unfasten his maw more than a millimetre and it was like looking into a vandalised graveyard. Half the stones were missing and somebody had spray painted the rest with urine.
I actually feel sorry for him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a petty spiteful turd with all the likeability of a petty spiteful turd, but he’s twenty-four and just lost twelve teeth. Twelve! Anymore and his face will start to collapse in on itself. His flesh will look like water going down the drain of his mouth. He’ll look like he’s swallowed a black hole. He’ll look like a pensioner who’s had seventeen facelifts.
Still, thinking about his dental demolition derby has taken my mind off the omnipresent heat. And the droning industrial fans that just move it from one bit of the building to another… twelve, though? What the actual hell was the idiot doing?
This building we work in is essentially a big tin shed. A shipping container on steroids. There are no windows, just corrugated steel the colour of an exsanguinated corpse. It’s the sort of place they keep genetically modified battery chickens with massive uteri and tiny wings.
For some reason, portions of the concrete floor are sticky. Like sap’s seeping up from below. We try to avoid walking on these patches, but every now and then you forget, and you hear a squee squee squee, and realise you’ve inadvertently wandered across a forbidden zone.
Not that we move about much. For the most part we all sit at our desks. We’re like cannabis plants, with no natural light. Except cannabis plants are snug – too snug, that rosy snugness is how the catch cannabis growers, with infrared cameras from above. We’re not snug. We’re anti-snug. You can’t heat a giant corned beef tin effectively, so in winter we freeze. Despite being allowed to wear gloves and bobble hats, we still shiver and shake at our desks. Sure, they bring in industrial fan heaters to heat the place but the heat just goes up and out of the ropey roof.
It’s worse in summer. We boil. Despite being allowed to wear shorts and t-shirts we sweat and pant at our desks. Sure, they bring in industrial fans to cool the place, but the fans just move the hot air around. And they’re noisy. Droning like maimed bombers heading for a crash landing, giving us all headaches to go with our stickiness. It’s a good thing you only need a minimal level of consciousness to do our jobs.
Recently management has addressed the problem of how depressing the work environment is. With pot plants. There are now seven dotted strategically around the building. Aspidistras, I think. They aren’t doing too well, what with the cold and lack of light and the glares of two hundred clinically depressed shape shifters. That and the fact the cleaner keeps forgetting to water them. So now we work in a big tin shed with seven dying pot plants.
This is a blog about my job. My not quite dream job. My dream job – since you ask –would be being the first man on Mars. I’ve even jotted down some momentous first words: Another small step for man, another giant leap for mankind… Thanks again to Cadbury’s for sponsoring this voyage… It’s not as red as I thought it would be… What do you mean; one way trip?
Until I can make that happen, I’m making do with being a Shape Shifter. Which sounds good. But isn’t. Essentially I sit at a desk putting shapes in trays. I get given a big box of different shaped shapes – round, square, triangular – and I sort them into the corresponding trays. Discs go in the disc tray. Cubes go in the cube tray. Squiggles go in the squiggle tray (although we rarely get any squiggles).
I do that for eight hours a day. Five days a week. Fifty two weeks a year (minus holidays). It’s not the most stimulating work. I’d even call it dull. Dull with no bells or whistles on whatsoever. It’s the job people leave because there’s a recently painted wall at home that needs watching. It’s the job Sisyphus quits after a week, saying, “Could I go back to the boulder? It’s smooth and sexy and keeps me buff. Plus I like the fresh air in my Noel Edmonds beard.”
For the sake of argument, we’ll say I shift shapes for the Blue Sun Corporation. I don’t, but aren’t all these mega corporations the same? We’re just another identikit conglomerate with fingers in all manner of global pies. Transport, infrastructure, building, property development, drugs, energy, entertainment … name a pie, any pie, we’ve got a digit in it. Including pie making. Although I think the pie division is in trouble. And the pi division, ironically.
So to reiterate. In this blog I’ll blather on about what it’s like to do a crummy job for a cruddy company. But not today. Shifting shapes takes it out of you.