Romare Bearden, "Golgotha" (c. 1945)
Romare Bearden, Golgotha (c. 1945)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

January 13, 2003:

The sidewalks glitter with sparkledots. Intersections with pedestrian-only cycles, all four walk signs green, and you can cross the streets kittycorner if you like. San Francisco's miniature Financial District runs five or six blocks up Montgomery Street, from about Sutter to the Transamerica Pyramid between Washington and Clay.

$12/hr for your first job in The City. As a temp, you throw things away eight hours a day. Wells Fargo Bank, 420 Montgomery Street, with a stagecoach and a "history museum" in the lobby.

Backs of office cubicles border a carpeted indoor space about ten by ten. Against the cubes are fifty or a hundred six-foot piles of corporate annual reports, freshly printed. A plastic 100-gallon trash bin on wheels stands at each corner. Temps assemble packages of precisely three copies of each report, throwing the rest away.

Wells Fargo Bank, Proxy Division. The Bank makes money by investing your savings, using them to buy millions and millions of shares of corporations world wide. Those shares give the Bank clout at annual investors' meetings. The Proxy Division studies the annual reports of these corporations, and decides how best to bestow the Bank's votes.

Miserable job. You open incoming bundles of redundant reports. Some companies send hundreds, two or five or twenty at a time. The Bank needs just three. Once those are received, the rest go into rolling trash bins, emptied throughout the day. Fresh printer's ink covers you head to foot, and, because there are no windows, you're stoned with a splitting model-glue headache by 10am. Your musician's fingers are papercut to ugly bleeding ribbons. Outside the sparkledots make you nauseous.

Through the days and through the nights there's nothing in your mind except the sound of her sister's voice on the phone. "She doesn't want to know you anymore," says the voice. "She did the same to another friend, at home, earlier this year. And," she says, "by the way," bashful, embarrassed. "You should probably have yourself tested for chlamydia."

Tall asian temp, early twenties, dark shiny hair below her shoulders. Pins you against a cubicle and says, "I'm ready to rape somebody tonight, it could be you, buster." You stare at her and blink.

Death and darkness, despair of lost souls. How do people live, when they feel this way?

How will you survive? On $12/hr, stoned with splitting model-glue headaches, musician's fingers papercut to ugly bleeding ribbons, among the golden sparkledots.