My Face Against a Revolving Grindstone (Poetry)

Yesterday I struggled through a hard workday.
Working at a hospital is hectic, chaotic,
Which is especially fucked for someone like me
Who requires peace and quiet to exist properly.

The barcode scanner for an electrocardiograph
Suddenly stopped working.
The electromedical service was handling the ticket,
But the emergency department needed the machine;
They demanded us to look for another barcode scanner,
Which turned this issue into Our Problem.

During my last contract, we had spare barcode scanners,
But now not even the guy who handles the inventory
Knows why those barcode scanners have disappeared.
In the end I had to snatch one used for the vaccinations.
Although Philips will have to fix the original scanner,
We will likely never get our replacement scanner back.

When I started working at this hospital,
I was a thirty-something-year-old ex programmer
Who never found a stable job in the private sector
(I wasn’t a hit with supervisors who weren’t technicians;
My solitary weirdness made those women uncomfortable)
And so ended up slaving away as a cog for the government.

First, I wondered why the fuck would I have to handle
Random machines like scanners, faxes, wristband printers,
But because most things contain a computer chip,
That makes such machines Our Problem.

In otolaryngology, a phone ceased to work
(We are in charge of phones; they connect to the network),
Which meant that the associated computer wasn’t online.
Everything was properly plugged in the network rack,
So I had to pursue the maintenance guys to fix the issue.

The phone’s location from the inventory was incorrect,
So the maintenance guy failed to find it,
But he also failed to told us he hadn’t found it.
For a few hours we had no clue what the fuck was going on
Until I managed to locate the specific maintenance guy
And direct him to the exact room that contains that socket
(He would have found it easily if he had asked around).
Turns out the whole thing wasn’t any of our business:
Someone had cut the hidden cable during construction.

One of my coworkers updates
All his tickets without punctuation
And with barely any information
About what he’s done to solve them,
So when he failed to fix
A serious network issue in the ICU
(Which mostly contains victims
Of the Chinese biological weapon),
My boss made me responsible
For resolving that guy’s ticket.

Turns out his updates were incorrect, maybe deliberately.
One read that the corresponding switch port had traffic,
But I found out it wasn’t plugged at all.

As I stood close to the ICU, in front of the network rack,
That has a tangled mess of cables nobody wants to handle,
Some random guy came from behind me
And then touched me without my consent.

“I don’t know what you came here to do,” he said cheerfully,
“But if you solve it in this disaster, you are a champ.”
I just stood there silently, never bothered to look at him.
He insisted, but eventually he got annoyed and left.
Nobody asked you to bother me, you fucking prick.

I got the associated computer online.
My boss said he had suspected
That my coworker hadn’t done shit,
He just intended to pass
His ticket to the maintenance service.
This coworker is a childish,
Annoying prick that nobody likes
(He’s the kind who just repeats
Mindless jokes from TV,
And when he gets bored,
It’s our job to entertain him),
But the bosses can’t do shit
Because he’s in a worker’s union,
And in the past he had called over
Some of those shady goons.

Two other computers were offline in anesthesiology.
The ticket’s info about the PCs’ location was incorrect.
When I finally found the user who had complained,
I discovered that they had produced at least two tickets,
So someone else must have been handling the other one.

As this nurse person guided me to the room in question,
Which would have been very hard to find otherwise
And is located past two doors that needed to be unlocked,
The nurse tried to make me empathize with her problem.

(She spoke slowly and carefully
As she wrapped both arms tightly around me.
Like many nurses with which I have dealt,
She sought the comfort of such contact.
Then, while standing right next to my ear,
She whispered how much she enjoyed my smell.)

She said they had moved a Zoom meeting to another room
Because the associated computers had been offline.
I didn’t pretend to care, and I could tell it annoyed her.
I’m never there to make you feel better; I fix machines.
Besides, I truly don’t give a shit about your problems.
I work because I need to pay for the privilege to exist
(Although I don’t even want to live).

In any case, when I finally found those blasted PCs,
I found out that someone had already fixed the problem,
I guess whoever handled the redundant ticket.
But I was the one person superfluous in this situation.
I had bothered to locate those rooms and listen to that girl
Just to waste my time and energies, and get paid for it.

When my dodgy coworker came for his shift,
He got nervous because I had handled his ticket.
Although he knew that our boss had passed it to me,
He still bothered me to figure out everything I had done,
And feigned surprise that his updates were incorrect.

In the middle of all this, my boss had called me
Because he and another coworker were travelling back
From dismantling the emergency vaccination stations,
And needed me to unload PCs, printers and phones
(I’m reasonably strong, so I’ve been a go-to guy for this).
We took that shit from my boss’ car and put it in my cart.
Later, I nearly sprained my back lifting a big printer.
I’m always exhausted, in my thirties, far from my prime.

(Nowadays, my body aches constantly,
My joints hurt, my head hurts,
My neck feels like a twisted pretzel,
So does every joint.

The world outside is dark and cold,
A place where mystery lurks
And sometimes death arrives.
Inside is warm, lit, clean, and safe.)

I have always been uncomfortable among humans.
When I was a child, I harbored the delusion
That one day I would find people I would like,
But the more people I met, the more I disliked everyone.
Once I worked at offices, I wanted to avoid most humans.
Now that I work in IT, I nearly loathe humanity.

Working with people always makes things worse.
We are a bunch of retarded apes
Who have no business making big plans,
Especially these civilization-wide restructurings
That originate from certain weasels in academia,
With all their grandiose political hypotheses.
We will suffer through horrible catastrophes.

Yesterday’s workday should have had a saving grace:
My contract would have ended, I would be free
To finally rest from having to work full-time,
Which always drains all of life’s strength from me.

But two hours before the workday ended,
I got the equivalent of “your contract is extended.”
So now I’ll have to endure through two more weeks
(And later on maybe more, I never know)
Until I can finally stop waking up at six in the morning
And some weeks returning home at eleven at night,
Not to mention all the garbage I endure in between.

Our secretary asked me whether I had made plans
That having to continue working here had screwed up.
I stared blankly at her. Plans? Other people make plans.
I merely adjust to the loads of shit that life throws at me
While I try to steal time to write and play the guitar,
Which are the only activities that keep me alive
(Besides masturbating).

All my coworkers and bosses complain about working,
And repeat that they have been ready to retire for years;
Still, some intended for me to be happy and grateful
When I had just been told that my vacations are cancelled.

I’ve never landed a stable job, never had proper vacations;
My vacations are whatever period of time is sandwiched
Between when a contract ends and the unknown moment
In which my phone will receive the dreaded call from work.
Ever since I learned that I’ve gotten fucked again,
I’ve felt a hollow ache inside my chest.

Besides, this job at the hospital won’t ever be stable;
You need to speak Basque to get hired permanently.
I hate the Basque language, it’s fucking ugly and useless.
Nothing it produces is valuable as far as I’m concerned.
All of my teachers chastised us if we spoke Spanish,
And none of them even knew how to teach it properly.
I don’t require it to do my work, it’s just about politics.

When I think about my following weeks,
I picture a dirty boot pressing my face
Against a revolving grindstone.

(A couple of days ago I was back in Whiterun.
I had to temper an iron dagger at the grindstone
Mostly to befriend dear Adrianne Avenicci;
Whenever I find or steal an ingot of refined malachite,
I will finally get to craft an alembic in a forge,
And if Adrianne likes me enough, she’ll let me use hers;
Money is too tight and I’d have to pay her otherwise
(I usually wouldn’t mind paying her; she’s got nice tits).

Once I get my hands on a fancy new alembic,
I’ll finally dissolve in it my alchemical ingredients.
They will allow me to learn about magic archetypes,
Which will become the sources of a series of theses
That will allow me, in days, to come up with new spells.
Those are bound to help me survive in the wilds;
Days earlier, I merely crossed the bridge from Markarth
When a big elk pummelled me into a paste.

I’m a puny Breton who wants to be a mage,
Although I haven’t even learned a single spell,
And I can’t afford to pay a bodyguard’s wages;
I bought a dog from some stablehand,
But the damn mutt and his Dwemer leg barely help.

None of these issues trouble me much, though,
When I can stand on top of the steps to Dragonsreach
And gaze down upon our city bathed in the sunset,
Including the Cloud District and its lack of pussy;
A myriad of sights that look so fucking good in VR.)

Yesterday, when my workday finally ended
And I walked out of the hospital complex
As I wondered why I bothered with anything,
My mind went numb until I reached the train.
Once I stood in a crowded passenger cab
And looked forward to a forty minutes long ride,
I remembered that it’s always been the same way.

As a child, for a few years I had my own bedroom
Where I read, recorded a pretend radio show,
Wrote, drew comics, and daydreamed.
But my mother didn’t like her two sons,
And wanted to free a room to create a new kid.

She convinced me into moving to my brother’s room.
As a seven year old, I didn’t properly understand
The kind of sacrifices I had signed up for.
From then on, until I became eighteen years old,
I was treated like an unwanted guest in my bedroom.

I couldn’t listen to my music nor watch what I wanted.
I couldn’t concentrate enough to read nor study.
My fragile mind requires silence to retain its sanity,
But my brother wanted noise to drown his thoughts.
Thanks to him, we slept with the radio and TV on.

I never rested enough, I was never comfortable.
I read my books as I walked through the streets.
I had to enter into random apartment buildings
To hide in the darkness and silence between floors.
Nobody was around me, nobody could touch me.
My heart pounded, hoping that no one would notice,
But in the solitude of such dark places, I was free.

Not even the weekends belonged to me;
A narcissistic cousin that my brother liked
Forced his way into our house every Saturday,
And he believed it was my job to entertain him.
Years later he even flirted with my then girlfriend,
Which was my excuse to get rid of the prick.
He suggested I had to forgive him for whatever,
Because we are technically related by blood.

Whenever I brought up to my mother
That I was suffering in my brother’s room,
She always repeated a variation of the same thing:
“You gotta understand it, he has problems.”

For her, if nobody mentioned a problem, it didn’t exist,
Like when she denied our sister was stealing shit
To pay for the hashish to which she was addicted
(Her own Muslim boyfriend was a drug dealer,
Not to mention an adult when she was a minor,
Which is legal in my country if the minor is willing;
Who knows what crazy shit my sister was involved in).

My mother denied it, but she still hid my valuables.
She didn’t even tell me she was hiding my stuff,
Which caused me to think my sister had stolen it.
I found my gifted jewelry years later, in a drawer.

(To be fair, as a teen I was a thief myself.
I stole books and manga; no internet back then.
My worst theft was part of a cousin’s wages
When my mother forced me to visit them.
I stole it to feel that I could affect something,
And I spent it on books and random groceries.
I regret that one, I couldn’t handle the guilt,
And I never stole anything ever again.)

Even with the people with which I hung out,
Or the girls I ended up romantically tangled to
(I wouldn’t have dated them if I knew myself better),
I always felt I would never stand on solid ground;
I remained at the mercy of turbulent currents,
And I had to struggle to keep my nose above water
While trying not to sink into psychotic madness
(If only my parents had done their fucking duty,
I doubt I would have turned out this rotten).

I was told to believe that everything was fine;
I just needed to put up with increasing anxiety.
But I’d rather live under glass and slowly starve
Than be suffocated and drowned in shit and lies.
Somebody please shut me in a box full of nails.

This morning I woke up at six in the morning again.
I managed to revise a whole scene in the train
(I hope I’ll get to upload my novel in a week or so).
Shortly after eight, when my workday starts,
I had to grab a RJ45 cable and a Patchsee light,
Because another network connection had failed.
After I took the rack key, our secretary laughed
And said that she always saw me carrying cables.

A couple of hours later, my boss called me in
To assure me that Saturdays are paid individually,
And that he needed me to come to work tomorrow
Because the new coworker was mostly useless.
But he fucked up and asked if I wanted to,
And I said that I would come if I was ordered,
But that otherwise I badly needed to rest.
Thankfully, he immediately changed his tune,
And now I have to deal with his awkwardness
Because I refused to sacrifice another day.

I’m looking forward to finally crafting
That blasted alembic at Adrianne’s forge.
That’ll help me survive in the wilds
Where monsters roam and prey is scarce,
Before I can return to our quaint little town
Where all the houses are built of stone,
With wooden doors and iron hinges,
And windows made of thick glass
So I can see my loved ones’ faces
And let the sunlight in
To warm my bones
When winter comes.

I need to wake up at ten to drink a coffee in peace
While I sit in my boxers to write whatever comes.
I need to walk into the woods with a folding stool
To play my guitar until my blisters pop.
I’m sick to my core of this fucking world,
And the only thing I truly yearn for is to die.

‘My Face Against a Revolving Grindstone’ by Jon Ureña

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