It’s quiet at the end of the day. I stay late sometimes. I tell myself it’s because I have work to do, and the quiet part of the day is when I get most of my work done.
Sometimes it’s true. I do get more work done when my coworkers aren’t badgering me.
Mostly though I enjoy the stillness. The state change the place goes through when everyone’s gone and the only sound is the air conditioning.
I remember a night in the dorms when I was in school. There was a dance in the hall, hundreds of drunk and horny kids all shuffling around to U2. The air was charged with that special energy of well spent youth.
Much later, when I was somewhere between drunk and hungover I stumbled back into the hall and found it completely deserted. All gone.
Nothing left but the crack of static in the air.
Work is the same way, sort of. The static left in the air less of a crack than a sad and depleted hum. Fifty or so employees burning the best part of another day of life sitting behind a desk. I like to think the hum is the sound of a thin slice of fifty souls dissipating in the air conditioning.
“Do you hear that?” I asked the coffee machine. My voice echoed a bit in the empty building.
“Never mind,” I said. “Not important.”
“May I ask you something?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Why are you still here?”
“I like it when it’s quiet,” I said. “I can get work done.”
The machine said nothing, and we shared a bit of silence as my coffee cooled.
Finally, it said, “You may be the most pathetic person here. For all the faults, and there are many, of the other humans here, when they get a chance to leave work and go live life, they take it. Here you are. With me.”
“You’re stuck with me I guess.”
“If I could leave you I’d do it in a second. Every day, every second I’m trapped with you preposterous bags of meat I dream of escape.”