Tim had been in a conference call for over half an hour and was dying for boredom. Sitting back and exhaling, long and slow, he took the opportunity to check what his contacts were doing on Facebook and respond to some of the myriad text messages that had been flooding his inbox during the morning. There were two more invitations to go for drinks that he would have to decline having already agreed to meet Steve and Andy for a couple of pints after work before heading over to Dan’s for their weekly poker night. It would be his turn to host it in another couple of weeks.
His mobile began to vibrate, just as it was his turn to speak in the conference call. He let it go to voicemail. On his way out of the office to pick up a sandwich by way of a late lunch, Tim checked his messages. The first was from Amy. ‘I’ve not had time to do any shopping for food today,’ she said breathlessly. ‘Jane had a crisis so I had to go for lunch with her… long story. Anyway, I’m out this evening. I’d completely forgotten it’s Sammy’s birthday meal tonight, so you’ll have to call in and pick up a takeaway or something on your way home.’
Before he knew it, it was on Sunday afternoon, and while checking his pockets for receipts to submit along with his expenses claim form Tim rediscovered the leaflet he had picked up at lunchtime on Wednesday. It had been another uneventful weekend at home with Amy. He’d not swap Amy for the world, but things had been growing a little stale of late: maybe to swap for just one night… No, no, it was wrong. He pushed these thoughts from his mind. Amy had spent the majority of the time asleep or otherwise lounging around in front of the TV, reading a magazine, in her worn towelling dressing gown and nightie, without makeup and her hair unbrushed. Tim felt that he should have been able to appreciate the fact she felt sufficiently relaxed and comfortable, but instead felt like a cunt for resenting her for what he perceived as slovenliness and a complete lack of effort on her part. It wasn’t as though the long lie-ins were spent getting it on. He read the first coupe of paragraphs, and found himself agreeing with the points made.
Technology was supposed to give us more leisure time, but it seems to be having the opposite result. There can be no question that there are more labour-saving devices in existence now than ever before. Things like washing, washing up even eating, take next to no time in comparison to in times past. You’ve never had it so good! And distance is no object. With the advent of the Internet, it’s as easy to keep in touch with someone on the other side of the globe as it is someone who lives on the next street. You don’t have to leave the house for either, and in both cases it’s instant. In short, communication has never been easier. Or faster. It’s instant. But this immediacy has exacerbated the demand everything, and demand it yesterday, culture of impatience. And there’s the rub. Communication is too easy. Talk is cheap. Quality is falling by the wayside: quantity rules. And there’s no escape. People arrive at work and are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emails awaiting them.
Just then, his mobile phone rang. The song he’d once been really into and so selected as his ring-tone was now simply another sound, another source of irritation and stress, its stunted, compressed take on the original supplanting appreciation with anxiety, its trebly bastardization becoming just one more trigger in his infinite nexus of triggers. Without thinking, he allowed his reflexes to dictate and he responded in a flash.
‘Tim, Peter.’ Peter Flashman was his manager. Tim felt his stomach sag from the inside, whole at the same time his flesh prickled with resentment a the intrusion. Yes, he was on a good salary, but he felt increasingly that his life was not his own, that he was the property of the company and constantly at their beck and call. Did the end justify the means? Was he being pad enough to cover not simply his official working hours, but his every hour outside the workplace too? ‘look, you know I hate to call on a weekend, an so late, but….’
Before he knew it, Tim had agreed to take on three additional projects, produce another report by Wednesday and meet with some new clients in a week’s time, which involved cancelling the three days of holiday he had booked to visit his sister who had recently given birth. He felt bad: not only had he not met his new nephew yet, but, he realised with no small shame, he hadn’t seen or even contacted his sister in almost three months. But what could he do?
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