By Michael Luo
BY MICHAEL LUO
(continued from our “Unconstrained” issue on 4/9/15)
The fact that I had given up a year of collegiate social drinking for minimum-wage mind numbing was something I tried hard not to think about. My dad, the same guy who sent me potato chips for Christmas, said a gap year was a good way to build character. But his hobbies had recently transitioned from lifelong binge drinking to an extended overnight stay at Plainfield Correctional Facility, so I felt every right to think differently.
School had been such an intense atmosphere that I had to quit to find better education. When I packed my bags and flew back to Detroit, I found a disappointed mother, a disappeared father, and a disunited family. Medicine, law, and anything enviable by society were out of the question due to my “unexplained learning disability” so it was onto options at seven dollars an hour.
Ma couldn’t really hug me as I trailed out of the terminal so all she said with arms folded was good to see you. You too, Meredith.
Ma had found a job printing newspapers nearby, finally something she could get by with, even with her broken English. Shattered spirits were the reason for her depression and her husband’s incarceration. Whether out of good fortune or bad karma, my job was located on the same lot, so Ma and I reluctantly carpooled each morning and night.
She’d drop me off at the building gate before parking twenty feet away at her office, which was more of a room with a few printers than an office. Every morning a few minutes before eight, I pushed open heavy double doors to head up one flight of stairs for the top floor. One morning, while she was waiting for the elevator, Deb shouted to me, “What, too lazy to wait for the elevator?”
Once I sank into my canvas chair, with its Nike tennis balls for wheels, I dived straight into another box of Prozac lawsuits. Between pages of manic depression were also applications for credit cards. The redeeming quality here were the names of these individuals I’d never have the luck of meeting. For example, Jesus Christ, who resided at 12345 Drive, Screw You, Michigan also had a height of 7’2” and a weight of “yes.”
Between trying to adjust resolution DPIs, rescaling greyscale levels, and daydreaming, I would come across some intriguing discoveries. This one chart had the survey responses of whether or not experts thought anonymous participants were depressed, garnished with a personal drawing meant to convey favorite childhood experiences. Thinking it would spice up the day, I held this page up to Tory but she just looked back at me.
Later that day, our supervisor announced the whole company was folding. When Ma drove us home, I told her I needed another job. She didn’t say a word, so we sat in silence until we pulled up to our house. She had expected a lot of me and now she expected nothing. Tucked into her purse was a faxed notice with a name I knew and a date too recent to understand. Is it true? I wanted to ask. Ma just ignored me, got out of the car, walked to the house, and leaned her head against the glass door.
Michael Luo ‘16 (firstname.lastname@example.org) hopes your jobs are better than this.