Sammy O extended his arms over his head and sighed aloud. It was another Monday morning, not even 9 am and he was already counting the minutes until he could leave the office and go somewhere else. It didn't really matter where, just somewhere else that wasn't here.
In a different time he would have left work and gone straight home. In a different time he would have smiled the whole way home, eagerly anticipating the warm greeting that he would receive from his family. The kids would have screamed in delight, "daddy's home" and his wife would have given him that smile that she saved for him alone.
He wouldn't have made it three feet before those giggling kids would be climbing all over him. They would rolled around on the floor in a big heap of laughter. And then he would have threatened to punch them all in the nose. The girls would squeal again with laughter and take off running and he would have chased them, all the while threatening to tickle them until they couldn't take it anymore.
Those were good days. Daddy was a monster, but a monster of the best sort. He was fun. He was loving. He was hopeful and excited about the possibilities.
But that was then and this is now. Now every day was a struggle. The job wasn't bad because it was a grind. It was bad because he didn't earn enough to pay all of his bills, not to mention that his supervisor bore a distinct resemblance in looks and skills to Bozo the Clown.
Good old Bozo, he remembered being a kid and watching the show. It had been fun then. But now it was just a symbol of his frustration and ineptitude. His Bozo liked to tell him how lucky he was to have a job and how many people didn't.
Every day he would go off on a rant about how grateful they should be for what they had. And every day Sammy O secretly rolled his eyes and wondered if there was a way to throw Bozo down the stairs. He didn't really want to hurt him, but he couldn't think of another way to get him to leave for a while. All he wanted were a few days alone, just some peace and quiet. But that wasn't likely to happen.
Bozo was on his third marriage and a dozen different prescriptions for various anxieties and ailments. But the job was his refuge and secret hiding place from the world. The job was his life so the chances of Bozo leaving for any length of time were about as good as the odds of the cleveland Browns winning the Superbowl.
Another big stretch followed the sigh. Sammy looked down at the piles of paper on his desk and stared off into space. They were a mixture of personal and professional matters that had to be dealt with A.S.A.P. The stack included three Post-It Notes from Bozo.
They were supposed to provide instructions for how to handle the projects that Bozo had assigned him. As usual the notes contradicted each other. Sammy O had long since learned not to bother mentioning that to Bozo. All it would do is piss him off and lead to a lecture about reading comprehension.
It made him angry to be subject to the whims of a crazy man. He knew that his tolerance for all things was low. If he earned enough to pay his bills it would be much easier to deal with Bozo and if he had wings he could fly.
Somewhere in the recesses of his mind he could hear a silent chant begin about not giving up, something about finding a way to adapt and overcome it all. He wanted to believe in it. He wanted to believe that there was a way to find daylight and to enjoy the sunshine again, but he didn't know how.
Bozo was right, it was better to work than not. But this wasn't going to get it done. So he sent out applications for other positions. He networked and prayed that somehow, some way something better would come through.
But it didn't.
And the days passed. The pile of bills grew higher and the hole he was in grew deeper. In the interim the Feds bailed out the banks. The same banks that had leveraged themselves into insolvency. The same banks that wouldn't loan him any money for his business or allow him to refinance his home.
Those banks had been bailed out almost immediately. And it had been done using his tax dollars. It was beyond absurd.
And through it all the banks grew strong again while Sammy O grew weaker. In a few months those banks would hand out millions of dollars in bonuses to the same executives whose bad decisions had created the conditions in which they failed.
Unless things changed soon those same executives would use Sammy O's hard earned tax dollars to go on five figure vacations while Sammy O and his family went on their own vacation. The difference was in the name. The executives would hit the exotic island of Jamaica while Sammy O and company would visit the mythical land of foreclosure.
It was the thought of the mythical land of foreclosure that made Sammy O not want to go home. He couldn't stand to look around his home and know that soon it would be gone. He couldn't begin to imagine having to tell the children that it wasn't their house any longer.
Their fairy tale was over and the nightmare was beginning, only this time they would be awake for it all.