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Frank Goodberry sighs loudly and throws another crunched up piece of paper into the wastepaper bin that sits against the wall, between his filing cabinet and his liquor cabinet. The liquor cabinet sees an awful lot more use than the filing cabinet does, that's for sure. There's very little inside that filing cabinet, as early into his career Frank Goodberry decided he probably didn't need to file that much stuff, so he wouldn't bother. It's a bit of a waste of space, to be honest, but his wife insisted he get one. It's been seven years since he had an actual job, a real tangible job, the kind of job that government officials are always trying to tout the numbers of. The kind of job where you get a regular pay check in return for providing some kind of service, such as working in a shop or filling things with concrete. Frank Goodberry hasn't had one of those jobs for seven years. For the last seven years he has been trying to make it on his own, trying to become self employed, self reliable, self something else. Working for the man no longer interests him, he's had enough of 'the Man', whoever that is. Unfortunately for Frank Goodberry, he's not had a great time of earning money without the interference of 'the Man'.
Frank Goodberry became fed up a long time ago with the machinations of 'the Man'. Fed up with the system, fed up with the hoops you have to jump through just to get by. He was fed up with the rules and their rigidity, how the rules are enforced to the letter to those on the ground floor while those on the top floor can creep around to their heart's content, weaving in and out of the confines of the rules like some kind of mesmerising and kind of illegal dance. Frank Goodberry hated the system and the way it worked, hated those who had worked hard to make sure they didn't have to work hard. In some ways he envied them, because of their magical ability to seem important and to earn a paycheck without actually ever seeming to do any work. That is what Frank Goodberry wanted, to earn money without having to go through the pain in the ass that is actually working in a shop or pouring concrete. I should mention that Frank Goodberry used to work in a shop and also used to pour concrete, which is why these two particular examples keep popping into his head. I should also point out that Frank Goodberry did not work in a shop and pour concrete at the same time, they were two separate jobs that occurred at two different times. I mean can you imagine if that was one job? What kind of crazy weird shop would that be? One can only imagine.
Frank Goodberry sticks the end of a pencil into his mouth nonchalantly and allows some of his saliva to dribble down onto the eraser. He never uses the eraser part of a pencil anyway, so it's fine. He'd rather use a proper eraser, y'know? The chunky ones you can hold in your hand, not the piece of crap erasers that are on the end of pencils. They are the worst kind of erasers, if you were to ask him. Not that he has a particularly long list of erasers, you understand. He just occasionally finds himself realising that the erasers on the ends of pencils are no good, and he occasionally finds himself yearning to be able to share that information with somebody as mundane as it is. His wife wouldn't understand. 'Why are you talking to me about erasers?' she'd ask with that shrill tone of voice she puts on whenever she doesn't understand what he's talking about. He's heard that tone of voice too many times recently, now in his head that's how she always sounds. It's not, of course, it's just the way his head has worked it.
Frank Goodberry starts to draw a stick man with an unusually large head as he thinks about this. He thinks about heads, about brains, the mind, about how odd it is, how it seems to play by its own rules. He starts doodling a grotesquely large brain overflowing from the head of this little stick person. He thinks about how strange the brain is, how it seems to call the shots on what happens and how he lives his life. His brain pulls the trigger on what stays and what goes. His brain makes the decisions and his fleshy bony body just reacts and gives his brain the thumbs up. Nice one brain, we should totally quit our job and try to make it on our own in the big scary wide world. Nice one, man. You fucking nailed it.
Frank Goodberry taps the end of the pencil on the paper he was doodling on as he thinks about how strange the brain is. He wonders why people think the way they do, why some people act differently to some situations than other people do. For example, those people he was thinking about earlier, the ones who cruise their way to the top of some business or other and find ways to not bother doing any work. How do they get to that point? What is it in their brains that tells them that is the right course of action? How do they get from being a useless bum to being a useless bum that is being paid handsomely? There must be something in them, some kind of brain wave they have that other people don't, that tells them what they are doing is a good thing, a positive thing. If anything it's just a bunch of people leeching off the state in a much more vicious and sneaky way than people who live on the dole line, of whom Frank Goodberry is one. He's heard other people talk about those on the dole line, about how they are wasters, freeloaders, sponges, who only exist to squeeze as much money out of the government as they can. Frank Goodberry realises at that very moment that the people who float to the top and do no work are probably the ones saying that, trying to deflect attention away from themselves and onto someone else. What is it inside them that makes them that way? What part of their brain thinks it's totally ok to actually sponge off the system and then try to deflect blame over to those who actually need assistance? What part of your brain hides decency and prioritises being a slippery customer? Frank Goodberry doesn't know.
Frank Goodberry looks down at the little piece of paper he had been doodling on. It's full of weird looking scribbles, like the one of the guy with the big brain, and another one of a skeleton driving a train. What does it all mean? What's it for? What's any of it for? Why does anybody do anything? Frank Goodberry doesn't know. He sits there quietly, looking at his little doodles, before he picks the piece of paper up tenderly, scrunches it up, and throws it at the wastepaper bin that sits against his wall, between the liquor cabinet and the filing cabinet.
Frank Goodberry rises from his seat and walks over towards the two cabinets, kicking calmly at the crumpled up pieces of paper that litter the floor. He looks at the two cabinets and picks between them, picking the one he needs the most right now. He unhooks the latch on the liquor cabinet and pulls out a half empty bottle of whiskey. That'll do. He pours himself a stiff whiskey as he looks down at the wastepaper basket, full of crumpled up pieces of paper, all drafts he has thrown away. Doodles and sketches, half written sonnets, barely started articles, partly finished periodicals. Frank Goodberry isn't very good at anything, he decides. He can't do anything to a high standard, to an acceptable degree. He finds it difficult working for 'the Man', he finds it equally difficult to work for himself. Maybe work isn't for him.
Frank Goodberry sips from his whiskey as he thinks. If he can't work, then he cannot afford to keep his house running, to keep his wife happy, to keep the whiskey flowing. Life is difficult, and even though Frank Goodberry has been doing it for a while, he still hasn't figured out how to get good at it. Maybe you don't get good at life. Maybe you never get good at it, maybe you just float through life making it look as if you know what you are doing, when in fact you are as clueless as the rest of them. Maybe that's what sets Frank Goodberry apart from everybody else in the world, the fact that he's unafraid to stand up and tell everyone that he doesn't understand, while everyone else continues to scurry and hurry through life, giving off the veneer that they know exactly what they're doing when in reality they have no idea. They make it seem like they know what's going on for fear of being found out, Frank Goodberry lets people know he doesn't know whats going on for fear of being put back into that system. What's the solution though? How does one outside of the system find a way to survive in this hectic and demanding world?
Frank Goodberry doesn't know.