It was a normal day in Earl’s world. He got up at the same time he always did, 6:07 am. Just enough time to brew two cups of coffee, shave, drink one, and drive the five minute stretch of highway to work at The Store. This left him with five minutes to smoke, ten minutes to change into his uniform, and two minutes to pee before his shift began at 7:00 am. Earl had been working this job for so long he timed it out exactly, all to the gentle tick tick ticking of his black and white watch. In fact, today marked his six year anniversary.
“Morning,” Earl said, after lighting his smoke.
“Urrrrrgh,” said Bill, drooling a little.
“Rough night?” Earl asked.
“Auuuughhhh.” came the reply. Earl smirked and puffed on his smoke. Someone clearly was irresponsible last night. Earl was not surprised. The amount of workers that came in and out those large red doors with colours beneath their eyes so dark they could have been in a fist fight, dragging their feet like zombies.
“See you inside.” Earl chirped, and sauntered in The Store. The morning cleaners were busy scrubbing the floor. It looked as if someone had spilled a can of crimson paint.
“What happened?” Earl asked, stepping around a particularly dark puddle.
“I see,” Earl said, feeling somewhat unimpressed. Had no one had their morning coffee? Nothing out of the ordinary, he thought, rolling his eyes.
Travis, the manager. passed Earl on his way outside for a smoke.
“Earl! Good morning! How are you today?” he blurted in a single breathed stride, long out of earshot before Earl could reply. But, this was typical of Travis, and Earl continued his route of one hundred seventeen steps upstairs. Michelle, the secretary, was already there. Earl hated the scent of her perfume; she smelled like cheap desperation. He also hated her orange tan.
“Good morning, Michelle.”
“Sluuuuugsh.” she turned her head, rolling her eyes. For the first time today, Earl was surprised. Her skin was pale, almost white. And she smelled like metal spoons. Earl quite liked this, so he continued to converse.
“Beautiful sunrise this morning,” he said.
“Shuuunggh.” said Michelle, eyeing his arm, licking her lips.
“Oh, are you hungry?” Earl offered her a granola bar. He kept one with him, incase of emergencies. Michelle snatched it and stuffed it in her mouth, chewing and slobbering loudly.
The manners of some people, thought Earl, but he was too impressed by her transformation to be bothered.
On his way back down, Earl passed Travis again.
“Did you enjoy your smoke?”
“Nuughhh. Slurppan!” Travis growled.
Of course! Earl realized. Staff party last night. This happened every year. He must have forgot to mark it on the calendar. Not that he ever would attend, Earl found those occasions silly. We are all just gears in this giant machine, gears don’t need parties, thought Earl.
“Mfffuuungh,” Travis said, tapping Earl on the shoulder with his teeth.
“Oh, are you hungry too? Sorry I gave my last granola bar to Michelle.”
“Auuurghhhhh!” Travis roared, and Earl felt sorry.
“You forgot your lunch? Here, have an extra smoke.” he stuck it between Travis’s blubbering lips. Travis inhaled the cigarette and munched it, mumbling quietly.
“You’ll just get a tummy ache.” Earl muttered, shaking his head.
Finally, Earl took a seat at his desk. He straightened his pile of paperwork, cracked his fingers and toes. In one minute as always, the red doors would open, and The Store would be flooded with people. Earl’s last thought before the gates were unlocked, was what an utterly average morning this had been, indeed.