Bookseller -- "Broken machine/little poison for the system"

oh, _______.

_________ is one of the most depraved of the managers at ______. He is a sci-fi and civil war history fan (Dark Tower Lane!), he puts gel in his hair, he wears the same 5 rumpled button-downs with khakis every week, and he carried virtually no weight at the store. I feel sorry for him, always complaining about his ex-wife, no prospects on the horizon. He generally has the stink of death about him.

But more than that, his mind has been twisted by overwork, especially too many years at _____, I think five or 8 or something like that. He told me that he once worked three years straight without a day off (he has another part-time job at a legal office).

I guess the perverse thing is in his little violent morbid jokes (sometimes about killing), where you get the best entree into his mind. These little jokes are like the sex jokes of a food service worker, the ritonello or little song of the sheep herder sung to no one in particular, only if someone might chance to hear, smile, chuckle, and keep on going in a mind-numbing task; it delays or absconds the recognition of his depraved self-thought. But there is something else there, when he tells these jokes, a fatalism, a knowledge of his position. There is no fighting against the system, no hope of self-improvement, only the bleakly ironic recognition of fatalism, a life spent shitting on a public toilet and drinking from corporate plastic cups, knowing that this must be better than waiting tables (his last job).

He seems to hate the job, but on the other hand, he takes on this professional, enthused, demeanor with the patrons. With co-workers, he's generally dour and silent. It is as if he is only being himself when he is allowed to be fake, as sanctioned by our corporate institution. But there is more to uncover in that gelled hair and the large mountain dew sodas he drinks. There is something. A man on the verge of something? A mental breakdown? A burnout? What is it like for a mechanical body like _________'s to break down? Will he evaporate? Will he crumble? Will he grow twisted and go postal? Will he simply age at ____? He is a perfect worker is some ways, crystalline, seemingly affectless from moment to moment, able to turn on charm and know-how at will.

P.S. Perhaps I am too harsh. I think to work at ____ for 7 years, you have to be an inherently humble person. A martyr. I was listening to him sing to himself while straightening the shelves last night. He's a martyr, a Christ-figure in some ways, singing his little ritornello.

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