by Ross Sharp

I understand there is a thoroughfare in Sydney, a road, a brief stretch of vehicular track upon which, if one chooses to travel along it, allows fair commuters of that fine city to spare themselves the Lovecraftian horrors and unrelieve’d tedium of the fifteen minutes precious, irreplaceable time otherwise wasted in transit had they chosen to go the rat-run instead.

For this “privilege”, our fair commuters are charged a fee of five dollars and some changeeach way – and I wonder whether I live in a bloody country full of fucking idiots; that I have taken craps which have lasted fifteen minutes, and that fifteen minutes is not a significant amount of time in any circumstance unless that circumstance involves rushing your wife to the hospital because she’s about to give birth to triplets on the back seat, “TAKE MY FIVE BUCKS! NOW!!”, but in any other circumstance, paying five bucks for fifteen minutes of time sounds like either (a) an offer from a very unfussy streetwalker having a post-clearance Christmas sale, or (b) a VERY BIG CON of the highest order.

You decide.

I wonder how we, as a civilisation, have come to this, where such things as these are presented to us as if they were gifts to be savoured, blessings bestowed and showered upon us, favours granted, for our benefit and ours alone, and do I live in a bloody country full of fucking idiots for buying this shit, for allowing them to be sold it, to be time and time again gulled and shamelessly cozened into thinking this brand of bunco and others like it, these rackets, these weasel songs of numbing-to-the-senses spin ‘n’ sting, spruiked and shilled by flimflam men and women of no repute but their own, of no worth, of no substance, of naught to anything beyond a brazen talent to conjure, and conjure again, ways and means by which they can help themselves to our money for the provision of the illusion of something that is really nothing and not worth two-fifths of fuck-all.

“But you save FIFTEEN MINUTES!”

“What the fuck am I supposed to do with it, put it in a fucking BANK? Is there a BANK for that? A TIME BANK? Does the “extra time” pay out on my deathbed with special features, free spins, a jackpot and a lap-dance? IT’S FIFTEEN MINUTES, you pack of thieving scumbags, I’m keeping my five bucks, I’m going the long way, you don’t like it, you can FUCK OFF!”

A “service fee”, a “levy”, a “toll”. An “administration fee”. A “processing” charge.

These things are all that shall speak to the legacy of those who gave them to us, the white-shirt, blue tie cognoscenti of the corporate/managerialist classes, blank of face and dull in speech, absent and anonymous of character, chaotic in morals, banal in taste, insubstantial in every facet of their being; that’s their light in that nondescript office building, burning late and long into the night, where the big things are rarely, if ever managed at all, only little things, where everything is an optional extra, and the small stuff sweats a high tide 24/7, sweats an ocean, and it’s all a feller can do just to keep treading water to keep hisself from drownin’ in it all.

“What do you do for a living, Daddy?”, asks the child of The Administrator.

“I’m … er … I’m … in management”.

“Yes, but what do you do? Like, Tommy’s dad is a truckdriver, Sam’s dad is a builder, and Mitchell’s dad is a ‘lectrician, what do you do?”

“I’m an Adm – … I’m a, um, I do. Um. Ah. I … You’re too young to understand. Why don’t you go ask your mother?”

The tragedy of this?

We’re stuck with it.

We’re stuck with them.

The errand boys of big business, the clerks from central casting, the gormless goons on high in Head Office.

Their numbers are legion, far greater than ours now, those of us who choose to actually work for a living.

Always looking for an angle. A way in to where you already are, where you’ve already been, there’s always a way in, and they’ll always find it, and each and every time they do, they’ll find a way to charge you fifty bucks to use the key you already have to get the fuck out of the house you already own, and then they’ll have you send them a “Thank You” note for their troubles.

It’s nothing personal. Just business.

“BUT, BUT, WHAT IS THE WORK YOU DO, DADDY?!?, implores the child again, crying now, red-faced,  in confused frustration.

Daddy knows the “work” he does is no “work” at all, no type of work fit for a “man”, nor woman neither, no.

So Daddy steals downstairs one night, late, and without a sound.

He puts the barrel to his eyeball, then he fires off a round.

“What did your dad do for a living? Before this happened.”

“I dunno. Office stuff. I dunno. There’s this guy who writes this blog in Australia reckons people like my dad are just a pack of thieving scumbags”.

“Are they?”

“I dunno. Ask me mum … I dunno.”

Last Exit