Submitted for the approval of the midnight society, I call this story "The Tale of the Factory".
It's some time in the past. Maybe a decade ago. A blue-collar factory sits on the outskirts of a suburban village. It was dark out but even darker in. Bright florescent lights bathed the factory floor as a few workers rushed by, more still were sat at conveyor belts, mindlessly dropping small parts on to half-built car clutches.
Ben was sat holding what he could only describe as a metal pole. A decade after this incident, he'd still tell the story of this moment, never recalling what the pole was for. Neither, did he know, the purpose of the metal plates piled up in front of him. Letting out a sigh, he continued to slide plate after plate on to pole after pole. He imagined he was in a George Orwell novel, not allowed to think for himself, nor allowed knowledge beyond the immediate task in hand, nor allowed to miss the Two Minutes of Hate which were surely soon to follow.
Terrifying. But what really makes this story, is the fact that it's true. I'm recalling it as I sit here on a Sunday evening. I've replaced the fluorescent lights with candlelight, the metal pole for a glass, the plates with a bottle of rum. The rum tends to slide down easier than the plates ever did. It also makes me forget, which is often desirable.
In truth, I wouldn't change those fleeting two months of factory work and specifically not that moment for it provided one of a handful of flashpoints in my life which spurred me into action. It was at that moment that I decided to learn a skill, I would go to University and learn something that I could turn into a career. Let's ignore the fact, for the moment, that I studied something I've rarely used since, it's really beside the point, okay?
I'm feeling particularly contemplative tonight as I'm at another of those flashpoints that will change my future. Three days ago I accepted a new job. Two days ago, I handed in my notice. I've spent four years at Jaywing, a marketing agency in Sheffield and whilst there has been the odd night terror - and one instance of a white hooded figure giving me sleep paralysis (unrelated to the job, I'm sure) - it's actually been a delightful place to work. A place where I've truly grown as both a professional and as a person.
Back then in The Factory, I was full of fear. And today, I'm full of fear again, but a very different kind of fear. I wasn't scared to leave The Factory, it was an existence I truly despised. That's not the case this time. I'm leaving a comfortable job, I'm potentially leaving the city that I grew up in, I'm leaving a job that I know I'm good at, and I'm leaving behind some of my favourite people, with whom I'm lucky to work with almost every day. What if it's the wrong decision? What if I'm massively out of my depth? What if I come back, tail between my legs, having to grovel to my boss? "Please let me back in".
But, I'm also full of excitement. I'm leaving to take a job with a huge company, I'm leaving to work at a place with an on-site outdoor pool (and a cat! and a pub! and a bistro!), I'm leaving for a great opportunity, I'm leaving to better myself, I'm leaving because I like change (even if I think I may have forgotten that over the past couple of years), I'm leaving because I'm bored. I'm bored at work, I'm bored outside of work, and I'm ready for change. Trying and failing, is better than never trying at all, right?
I just hope I'm not meeting with the midnight society in the near future with another tale of terror.