I give you these words with severe trepidation. Herein is ego suicide.
My collar is a shade of blue these days. It used to be white you know but I’ve discovered the blue mercifully hides tear stains better.
I used to work for a church, in an office of my own with hours of my making and self-defined goals to be met. My labor was almost all mental or some mix of spiritual at least. I spoke publicly and led teams of volunteers to visions of grandeur. I would get up from my cushioned chair to adjust the thermostat. I wrote emails and judged by subjective parameters of creativity. Coworkers were friends and friends felt plentiful.
I felt known by others.
I have a new office now and it’s behind the wheel of a truck. Vinyl lined seats seep the odorous sweat of foregone drivers and by the end of the heated day I contribute. The alignment is a bit off but the first turn of the engine in the early morning still seems to wake my senses more than the coffee. The air blows cold but rules require the engine’s death when not moving so I relish the last waft as I pull up to the first house.
An exchange begins. I have arrived on time to rid this residence of it’s pests.
I’ve thought of every way possible to make exterminating sexy but I just can’t map it out. It’s a goal founded in my insecurities anyways.
I crawl into the spaces under people’s homes but in reality I’m just crawling back into my self again, my soul. I wave a flashlight around concerned about another pair of eyes staring back at me but I think rather I’m looking for some universal truth hidden in the crevices of this house’s old foundation. The same voice whispers from the shadows beyond, ‘How did you end up here’? I swallow hard and descend.
Axiom and aphorism are my companions in the deep and the silence. Emerging from each house a small piece of the answer always reveals itself. I’m getting paid to find bugs, fungus, termites, water but in the meantime I’m finding pieces of myself. I’m certainly not the man I was before going in. Perhaps I’m not really inspecting these houses. I think they are inspecting me instead.
Doctors and lawyers hang well deserved degrees in their home offices as I spray beneath. I look at the framed papers and they sullenly look back at me. Should I hang my masters degree from my rearview mirror? I laugh as I ponder the image but of course this would be impractical so instead I’ll hang if from my heart, my hope and my shadowy dreams.
I don’t feel as known by others now. I’m here for a service and therefore temporary relationships become rapidly commodified. I want to be known as more than the ‘bug guy’ but it’s why I’m here so let’s just do this and do it well.
I laud my fellow sojourners. I praise those among us with the bluest collars. Here’s a toast to the exterminators, the janitors, the bus drivers, the factory workers, the grocery baggers and those who craft delicately with fingers ablaze. I salute the caste entirely. It’s the communal therapy we offer each other in the predawn hours that sharpens the afternoon haze.
Not all who wander are lost but those who are lost certainly do their fair share of wandering. Everyday my ego dies a new death and everyday I am resurrected a new, better man. Maybe I look better with a blue-collar anyways. I’ve heard it matches my eyes.