The rivers of fumes engulf the air above, the flowing stream recoils on the heads of the grown ups, rushing away into thin air. From a kid’s point of view these grownups are like mountains. The clouds of cigar smoke flow in circles around their peaks. How does it feel to be up there with the head in the grey mist, to be a giant?
“Dad, what does a cloud taste like?”
With a cough of disgruntled disgust his father kneels down and replies:
“You don’t want to know, but you will eventually have to. Once you’re grown up and sit in line to pay your taxes that is.”
Worried the little boy then asked:
“Does it hurt when that fog bumps into your head?”
As the father was about to open his mouth and reply, the line moved forward by an increment of a slim person. Either the people lost weight sitting in line to get their turn or they were getting squeezed forward. And so the hours passed, but even the slowest train will reach its destination if it continuously or at least periodically moves.
One of the rare moments in life where the impossible sudden relief of a long wait’s ending turns apparently within one’s grasp and gets one at the front of the line.
“Coupon with the waiting service number, please.”
He tossed the coupon over.
“Mhm,” she nodded. Not hearing a sound from the man waiting in front of her undermined her comfort within her bureaucratic position behind her safe bulletproof glass confinement and thus triggered her irascible personal nature.
She lift her face, fixing the man with a stare penetrating through her glasses, stiffening her lips while revealing her lower line of teeth.
“Sir, it would be polite to pay attention to the manners and attitude you are bringing forward to an official department.”
Filled with bewilderment at the random remark, he raised an eyebrow. But what the office lady could see wasn’t the surprised face of a misunderstood man. She saw the red injected eyes on the grim looking exhausted face as an offensive attitude towards her.
“Why are you looking at me like that? What have I done to you?” the irascible bickering commenced.
The creature behind the counter had been identified by my dad as an oversized vertebrate snail from planet Scumicron two. Dad said the poor snail has a high blood pressure in her small brain and if it rises even a little, it starts feeling pain and gets nervous.
Although the kid could never actually see it, he was sure his dad would never lie, but instead be very sincere about such a trivial fact.
Disgruntled, shaking his head his father then replied “What do you mean?”
“Sir, I can clearly see your nervous stare you are throwing at me. Your eyes are red from anger!”
“I sat all morning in line for the waiting ticket just so I could sit some more afterwards. I worked 5 full days straight and finally got a day off, but I have to sit here in line to get my tax permit renewed, which is the only way that allows me to pay my taxes. You should realize I’m very tired and need some rest, so why don’t you hurry up with the papers instead of moaning?”
These words only agitated the creature behind the counter even more. The unintelligible complaints were getting more and more intense and from what the kid could notice, his dad was only taking in moral damage without defending himself.
“Dad, isn’t this what you call retarded bitching?”
Adrenaline rushed through the father as his heart started pounding in his chest. His father knew this would most likely bring forth a fine and some serious paper issues with a social worker attached for having taught his child two simple words. If worse would come to worst, they would be even capable of taking his child away.
That was too much for an ordinary simple man. So much more than he could take. At first it stung his chest and his vision blurred for a moment. Then the anguish completely unleashed upon him was beyond the lethal dose. The ache in his heart raised into a piercing pain. Shacking, with a tear in his eyes, he dropped down to the floor.
“Dad … ?”
Before the kid even grasped the situation, his dad’s heart stopped beating.
“The waiting in line and the lines themselves are poor evil! People are walking the dead man’s walk to their doom!”
At the sound of those words coming from a mere child, any form of agitation or comment was locked inside people’s thoughts and stares.
“He has no pulse. Quick! Someone call and ambulance.” The silence was broken by a man checking the unconscious person.
“My dad was sitting too often and too long and way too much in line! You killed him!” the kid yelled towards the counter. “You killed my dad!” Tears poured down the red swollen face and he slammed his palms on the counter’s wall.
Two guards rushed to hold the kid back and urged him to stop immediately.
“May our guards be as strong as the rockets dropped on the terrorists in Middle East!” cheered all the snail creatures behind the counters.
The countless memories of headline news of the bombings in the Middle East flashed before the child’s eyes. They didn’t realize they were all agreeing with the killing of people, strangers in a land far away but still people, which left him speechless and churned away all of his unrest.
“Oh!? He calmed down. Good boy, good boy!” a guard exclaimed.
All the kid could think of was that one day, one day he would teach them the right path. He would fix them all by teaching them a way without sitting in lines.
Laziness, indolence, a vice, a barrier rifting us apart from reaching our goals and bureaucracy is fully defined through it, with the exception that personal laziness is a matter of choice, while this putrid rotten system is forcefully projected upon us all.
“Tom. Hey, Tom! Stop daydreaming. We got papers to fill out and we won’t ever be finished if we delay them.” Steve shook Tom into attention.
With a yawn Tom rejuvenated himself from his bored state.
“I don’t get why we don’t just try to figure a way to simply force this stuff down their throats.”
“Easy there Tom. Nothing will come out of using brute force. We must fight papers with papers same as the fight fire with fire saying goes.”
“Alright Steve, let’s go again through the list.”
“Would you like me to repeat everything from start to finish?” asked the attorney.
“No madam. Please summarize it for my friend,” replied Steve.
“Alright. So right now we have to go through a complex tax billing procedure. We first appeal to a tax procurer to get a billing note and a related statement. Then through the use of a lawyer we set out a demand for a tax investigation, which is meant to prove you paid all your taxes for your campaigned project, which you did. The tax investigation is executed by the high council of notarial dignitaries.”
“So would there be any traps we need to look out for?” asked Steve.
“If you lack any administrative papers, such as changing your village without notification of the global elite, then this might impede you from reaching your goal.”
“Hear that Tom? You have that sort of problem.”
“Yes. Yes Steve. That’s why I got you to help me out. You have no such issues and that’s why you’re representing the project in some areas of the so called bureaucratic expertise debate,” sighed Tom annoyed.
“Don’t worry. I will always help a friend!” replied Steve. “So this is really the final step? How come it’s so simple compared to the previous ones?”
“Well,” smiled the attorney. “The rules and regulations have been refined over the decades into very many minuscule details that we had to pay attention to while resolving the papers over the past months and all across last year. They’ve made it so that not everyone can put in place an ambitious project such as yours. But don’t worry since that’s all over now. You’ve bravely withstood your paper wars.”
“… and the money sinkhole.” continued Tom to which the attorney could only give an empathic nod. “How come you, the lawyer and others have helped us out? Aren’t you bureaucrats supposed to stand together united in paper law?”
“He he! I don’t know your lawyer personally so I can’t speak on his behalf, but as you can see I am also human. I too suffer from the tyranny of this system and I would really like to see it at least loosen up a bit.”
“Will you take the cure or will you rather quit your job?” asked Tom suspiciously.
“You’ve proven through clear and detailed documentation that this drug does improve attention spawn, betters thought processes and most of all it doesn’t harm anyone’s health. Sure, why not?” grinned the attorney.
“Right,” replied Tom in disbelief. “If we succeed, I’ll personally take you out for lunch as often as you want and pay for it.”
Tom and Steve stood up and left just as the attorney could no longer hide any bit of her already obvious blushing.
“Are you serious Tom? You’ll take her out?”
“Sure why not?”
“You said you hate paper fanatics.”
“She’s young. So who cares?”
“This isn’t like you Tom. I think all this paper struggle makes one mad if it goes on for too long. You’ll recover once it’s over. That I’m sure of.”
“Once they take the cure to laziness, they will feel compelled to never again procrastinate. That makes them normal people just like us.” retorted Tom.
Within the colorful and well lit of a sports bar, Tom’s long awaited celebration took place amongst friends and his now beloved attorney lady.
“Hey Steve, take a break from the snooker table and come over here. The long awaited news announcement is about to take place!”
On the nearly wall sized screen a huge figure was reciting his speech tirelessly:
“In the recent past, right up to this day we suffered enormous trouble with getting documents and legislative papers of all sizes and colors sorted out in time. We always fell behind and chaos was about to ensue at any time. In fact we even had few paper crises. But we have ever since also worked on a cure and after serious testing we have now approved of giving it out to help our struggling paper warriors to overcome the huge burden set upon them!
“We are giving out free medicine that increases mental capacity and brain functionality …” and he went on and on with his speech.
“Hear that Tom? They researched it!” laughed Steve.
“Right! They could have at least mentioned my name and be more grateful. It’s us who researched the cure and it’s also us who fought to have it spread out.”
“But look at it from the bright side. All you wanted is now achieved.”
Tom raised his glass and took another sip. “That it is.”
The party went on. Deep into the night.
Few weeks later a huge bureaucratic implosion commenced. Left and right there were reports of people quitting their job because it was either too boring or because they wanted to do something more important with their lives.
Also new legislations were set in place, which were enforcing ‘paper-cuts’ and reduction of required documents for many bureaucratic processes.
Somehow Tom had imagined things differently. He had thought the all the office personal would have to go through more sweating and regret for choosing that job. It never crossed his mind they would all overcome the anguish of doing nothing by quitting their jobs. Several politicians were already moving on to study something to get a different job.
How could this ever be enough punishment for his father’s death? He had to speak to Steve in person as soon as possible.
“You have avenged your father. What more can you ask for?” replied Steve to Tom’s concerns.
“But is this really enough? Don’t you think they should have felt a greater burden just be relieved from their office lives?”
“Hey, you wanted the system to go. You got it. Take a week off if these changes are too much for you. Just remember, it was a change for the better, so there is nothing to feel sad about. Because of your cure people are tired of being lazy.”
Tom stepped outside into the cold winter evening, with a bottle of highest quality vodka. The shop owner closed the store for the night and waved him goodbye.
He wanted to just get as drunk as possible to try and get over it. That’s what he thought to himself as he was sitting in wait at the red light and all of a sudden some homeless guy grabbed his bottle out of the somewhat loose grip. As he snatched the vodka, he already ran over the street in large jumps.
Before Tom could even react, a car was already approach so he held back from attempting a chase. Clenching his teeth he though of the closed store.
Sad and depressed he arrived home and immediately turned on the TV. He hoped he could somehow get drunk from the old apple juice he forgot in the fridge for some time. It might have formed just enough alcohol for that.
After taking a sip, he coughs it up. He gets angry, but since he was never a great drinker he tries to ignore the lack of a strong drink.
“Gah! Whatever!” he yelled out loud just as he switched through the channels.
The new president was holding his great speech of change:
“We have sworn to go to the moon, we were there. We wished to go to mars, we went there. Our goals weren’t achieved by those who waited and rested and pondered in their thoughts about the past …”
Tom was staring at the TV still upset that not even the apple juice worked. His lids were getting heavier, but he was still hearing the words that were guiding everyone towards greater goals.
“ … I’m not the voice of humanity and neither am I trying to represent humanity. Humanity can only be represented by its own self, by us the people, all of us …”