soulless labor

i've been sleeping with my window open despite the cold and two days ago I woke up in the middle of the night to one of the most heartbreaking things i've ever heard. it was a man, sobbing outside my window. at first the shuffle of his feet felt unreal, a fragment of my sleep-addled brain, but when he spoke my brain untangled itself from its haze, heartbroken by what my ears were hearing.

'i can't leave this fucking job that i hate because that would jeopardize my future with you, and i don't know what to do.'

that's it. that's all i caught before he continued walking; before his voice disappeared perhaps never to be heard again. oh geez, did my heart break. i lay in my bed for about an hour, thinking about the pain in his voice and wishing that there was something i could do to help him. i've been in that situation before—more times than i can count—but the agony in his voice made the despair i've felt infinitesimal.

there was a rawness to it. a frustration and desperation and agony that i don't think i've ever expressed with my own voice before. there was a metaphorical clawing of his skin, a severing of every tendon and nerve in his body. there was a pleading as he spoke that i've felt but have never been able to properly convey to others; perhaps even to myself. is it because i am numb beyond repair? or because my emotions are only surface level, despite how strongly i think i feel them? perhaps a day or two of meditation will help. or maybe a lifetime.

i hope that man is well.


c. w.