The bus is boarded at the usual stop, at the usual time on a standard grey weekday morning. It is lined from side to side with suits, blouses and skirts. MP3 players in most ears, phones in the hands of some, and the Metro in the hands of others. It’s like any other bus journey at rush hour.
By the time the bus hits the motorway, there is no longer standing room only. Packed in, single file, like custard crèmes in their packets. No one’s talking, eye contact is somehow forbidden and I feel ill, ill at all the suits going towards their 9-5 routines, ill at the concept, some with ambition, but all the wrong places.
I pull out the phone, I surf the web, check the news and then pull out my MP3 player. I pump the volume up to 20 and try and choose the appropriate selection for my journey. I never do, and it reminds me that I need new music. I always forget to update it. I look to the person beside me, another suit, another MP3 player, another Metro…
I straighten my tie, and try to prepare for the day ahead. Another slog through the monotony of the working life. I feel I’m the only one that’s gotten the joke, the only one that’s realised just how much a life a 9-5 existence isn’t. The bus is warm, I loosen my tie then it dawns on me: I’m part of the same joke. I’ve become one them .
He lies back in his bed and enjoys the last smoke from his packet. The clock flashes its monochrome smile and tells him that he is now 2 hours past his usual sleep time. He checks out another book from the bookcase, and tries to dig in, drawing smoke in ever greater quantities into his lungs. He breathes out in a sigh of relief as the nicotine craving subsides. He knows the smoking is a bad habit, but he enjoys it so much that he doesn’t mind.
His mind wanders from the page again and he decides that it’s definitely insomnia. There is little to no value in going to a doctor to see about this, he says to himself, and his position becomes enamoured as he thinks well, sleeping is a waste of good time anyway.
It suddenly dawns on him that if it is insomnia, then this last smoke presents something of a problem. He recoils in horror; the cigarette resting between his fingers is the last cigarette. The final one. He glances once again at the clock, this time the monochrome smile has changed to a monochrome grimace as it reads 3.36am. He takes note, and carefully extinguishes his cigarette. He doesn’t know if he can make a half smoked cig last 6 hours. He returns the book back to the bookcase without bothering to alert the librarian and concludes that insomnia is the worst thing to have ever happened to him. He closes his eyes and wishes for sleep, as the craving weights heavily on his mind.