I Am Veal

I once had use of my legs. I once walked twenty minutes to and from work five days a week plus I would stand up for a few hours a day while teaching, plus I'd walk around town. Not in Philly. Here, I have two modes of being: driving in a car or sitting in a chair. These two modes are broken by periodic short walks to either get food or to pee. In State College, I actually had to walk outside and around the back of the apartment building to get to my car. Here, I park on the street so close to my building that I could reach out the apartment window to fish change out of the glove compartment of my car. I drive to work and park fourteen steps from the front door and walk another 20 steps to my swivel chair where I sit for 8 1/2 hours a day, expelling energy only from blinking and typing. Every once in awhile, I stand up and walk over to the candy dish near Karen's desk. At least once or twice a week, we must celebrate someone's something and are given sheet cake or chocolate chip cookies or Dunkin donuts or bagels with cream cheese. Then at 5 PM, I walk back out to my car, drive home, park three steps from my front door and am sitting at my home computer within 10 minutes. In other words, I have become white-collar veal. My friend Kali, who no longer works here, says she has lost pounds and pounds since she quit (she's working as a hostess now). Why don't I just give in completely and buy an electronic wheelchair?

I was complaining about this to my other friend Hasana, who teaches philosophy at McGill in Montreal, and she said she puts on her I-pod and walks 40 minutes to work and back and now her pants are falling off her and she still eats all the cake she wants.

This morning, I walked to work even though I don't own an I-pod (I asked Shawn if I could borrow his Walkman and he said, "Yeah, but Walkman's tend to skip around," as if I'd been using an I-pod my entire life). It took me about 35 minutes to get here (give or take a guilty stop at a mega coffee company who had an advertisement for a job fair scrawled across the chalkboard. I briefly considered giving up my cubicle life to become a barista. I changed my mind because I decided I would hate all the customers, such as the woman in front of me who was with her one year old and doing that thing where she was attributing all these brilliant thoughts and actions to her dumb baby. He pulls 6 CDs off the display and she says, "Oh! Does Brandon want Mommy to buy this for him? Does Brandon like mixed CDs?" No, Brandon's just a little asshole). I like walking. It makes me feel superior to people in cars. It reminds me that I live in an interesting city. Listening to Billy Bragg on the Walkman while walking up 4th street makes it much easier to pretend I'm in a movie about a spunky girl who refuses to let 8:30-5 life get her down. I have the chance to pet dogs. I don't get frustrated by the clot of traffic that trickles along 3rd street. I will probably never do it again, but at least today I have used my legs to get me to and fro.

A new way to get around town.


Karin said…
Have you seen the iBot? I occassionally envision a future where scientists find a cure for death just as our generation has reached octogenarian status, therefore we're trapped for eternity in our decrepit bodies (or at least until brain transplants are invented), so in order to zip around at speeds that accommodate our mental needs, we'll need fancy devices just like these.

Celebrate your mobility now! I envy you for working in the city. I'd love to walk to work everyday. I used to, and yes, I was much thinner then, too.

The last time my mother saw me, she told me I was getting, "stenographer's spread." How outmoded is that! I was horrified and amused by her insult. What I should have said is that she looks like a leather doll that someone let all the air out of. But that would be mean.