Hard Day at the Office (a story)

For some reason, I was unusually tired when I came out of Work today.

My gauges indicate that I had been at Work for the usual nine-hour stint, and I took all my usual breaks, but still, somehow, when I was released and came back to myself at 1800 or so my physical body felt especially exhausted. I don’t remember many details of the day’s work, of course, no one ever does, but I didn’t recall anything standing out or being particularly different. I had slept well the night before, had my customary breakfast, tended to my various biological needs with no notable difficulties or discrepancies, and settled into Work as scheduled around 0845.

Going into Work state these days is somewhat like dreaming – you’re just there, thinking about things, and next thing you know, you’re somewhere else, maybe someone else, and you’re dealing with various situations, and things happen, and you deal with them, and then you’re awake again and you’re not quite sure what just happened or to whom but you’re back to where you were, and you are who you are, and you’re safe in your own little home space, and you know you don’t have to think about those things anymore because they weren’t exactly real.

Even if sometimes disturbing traces remain in your mind. They fade soon enough.

I read somewhere that Work state is related to what used to be called “flow” – back in the day, that was the term used for a rare frame of mind where one activity simply seemed to flow effortlessly into another, and tasks would get done, insights gained, goals met in an organic and naturally occurring way.

Back in the day you had to work pretty hard to get into that state, apparently. You had to be an athlete, or a dedicated artist, or some kind of academic. But then they figured out a few things about neurochemistry, and a few things about interfaces, and they made it easier and easier to attain. Now the technology barely requires conscious input on the part of a worker like myself. Sometimes decisions still have to be made based on subjective factors, I suppose, and the hardware and the software aren’t quite to that point yet. I guess when they do get there we won’t be needed at all, but I am not objecting.

Hey, it pays the bills.

From what I can recall, my job involves processing requests for goods, confirming deliveries, and following up on any delivery problems. I produce reports, I compile statistics, I look for trends. I say “I” but I should probably say “we,” since there are plenty of subroutines and applications and databases and programs that I can call upon, as well as actual human co-workers. I am part of a good team – we work together almost seamlessly, although we are physically quite distant from one another.

But today I am so tired. Emotionally and physically drained, and I don’t really know why. I just don’t remember. The reports show that today’s volume was a bit higher than average, but I seem to have managed the larger workload without any dent in my performance ratios – in fact, I see a commendation on my record from my supervisor, not a big deal, just a kind of “Attaboy, way to go!” encouragement, no raise or promotion or anything, mind you, but it is the kind of thing that will look good on my next performance review. Well, that all just means that I will sleep soundly again tonight.

I just wonder what “Hazardous Duty” means.


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