Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Thing You Hate

First published in Karamu

The Thing You Hate

For my last appointment of the day, I met
with a man who owned a computer store in Grosse
Pointe. Halfway through the interview, he rolled up
his sleeves and showed me his scars. “I tried
to kill myself three times last year, but I don’t
know if you’ll want to put that in the article,” he said.
I didn’t. Writing part-time for a pull-out advertisement
section of the EastSide Weekly as my second job, I never
got to handle the tough issues, just ended up dead
tired at the end of the day, wanting to go home.

Earlier, I’d gotten lost looking for a car wash
in downtown Detroit where the owner ranted
about capitalists for five minutes before letting me take
pictures of the building. “You become the thing
you hate,” he said while I finished off my roll, wondering
if any of the shots would turn out. I didn’t want
to come back, already late from my lunch break
at my full-time job. Now the room was getting dark,
but the computer shop owner didn’t reach for the lights;
instead, he sat at his desk, sleeves rolled up, thoughtful.

He explained that he was trying to begin again, that he’d burned
some bridges in the past, but that was all behind him. “Sometimes
it’s good to get a new start,” I said, even though I don’t believe
that. I never find it difficult to lie, given the right circumstances.
“I love this job,” he said and smiled, rolling down his sleeves.
“I dream about programming at night.” I dreamed about deadlines
I wasn’t meeting, things I’d forgotten, the continual exhaustion of someone
always ill-prepared and worried about being found out. “Can I see
the article before it’s in the paper?” he asked. “Sure,” I said, knowing
I wouldn’t have a chance to drop it by, trying to leave before it got too late.

Michelle's Spell of the Week
"Style is not neutral; it gives moral directions." Martin Amis

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Open Jenny Block

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!


Anonymous said...

What could one say about a style that offers a lack of moral direction, as Amis does in "London Fields"?--Herman Northrop Frye

Charles Gramlich said...

A slice of life, with all the scars visible. Very nicely done.

the walking man said...

If one could take sides here what would it be? The harried and fatigued narrator, or the communist car wash owner or the recovering computer store owner? Which is the one identified with most...the worker or the owner.

One could do an entire essay on just this small aspect here. Is it intentionally crafted into the work? It's 0330 in the morning, Ravi Shankur is whipping down the fingertip highway and his music wants to know.

laughingwolf said...

very well said, michelle... :)