Here’s the story of humming, confidence, and chicken.
I decided to try humming this week. I don’t know why. I want to say that I was full of the joys of spring, but it’s summer, so I can’t be. Also, it was absolutely hoying it down and so windy I was trying to keep my pants from falling down. It’s a real problem balancing trendy trouser wear with practicality. Well, I say ‘trendy,’ it’s certainly a word no one I know would say was one of my attributes. Certainly not with clothes, at the very least. I suppose humming in this situation veers from jolly to psychotic, doesn’t it? Like when you watch these horror movies with a real happy tune playing in the background. Or like when you’re walking in the countryside on a lovely summer’s day and you step in something unpleasant and then start sinking in it. It happened to a friend of mine. Honest.
You might be thinking, ‘Well, maybe that’s the old British spirit – keeping calm in the middle of a… raging thunderstorm.’ Is that a British cliché? Doesn’t sound like the British I know. You know what it’s like. Your favourite band has been away for years and they come back with a new single off a new album and so it’s so freaking awesome and you can’t get it out of your damn head. A new earworm to titillate the senses. This is how you can tell I’m not a true rocker. I hum raging punk tunes.
One man who passed me by looked very confused. I didn’t know what I was doing, but it was a pleasant earworm. I spend the entire day at the office listening to this modern pop gibberish and then that gets stuck in my head. It’s a relief something else has burrowed its way in there. Like a little creature of love. Not like this modern pop crap. That burrows into my brain like that fly in the Brazilian rainforest that lays eggs in your brain, and they hatch, and they eat their way out. Gee, I hope I don’t have any readers on vacation at the Rio Olympics. Although, suddenly, things may start to be making sense. “Honey, you know this swanky hotel in the heart of the Amazon that we got for a surprisingly cheap price? Erm…”
Do I feel happy? I don’t know. I don’t know why I hummed. I do everything for a reason and suddenly there I was, walking through the beautiful university at the centre of my town, humming punk. It’s like when people go to that carnival and swear that their bodies start to move to the rhythm, almost by themselves. Of course, if one isn’t in an exotic carnival, one has to wonder why one is starting to behave like this. It could be a sign of contentment in one’s life, sure, but it could also be a sign of a stroke, so, you know…
My week certainly didn’t start off so swell. The rain was biblical. At least I think it was. I’m not entirely sure how much ‘rain’ shows up in the Bible, aside from the Great Flood, of course, but it wasn’t that biblical. I guess what I mean to say is that, the rain was mostly biblical, but not so biblical as to require a huge wooden boat.
Since raindrops dry on my glasses as these huge white dots, I took the decision to venture to work… not wearing them. This wasn’t my greatest idea. I’m long and short sighted, pretty much. Or something like that. I can’t see anything in the distance or up close. I have to cross 15 roads, three major, to get to work. It’s a miracle I wasn’t killed, readers. But at least I had nice clean glasses. I’m very much, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ I think I was born with nine lives. If so, this means I’m probably down around negative six and also a cat. Stranger things have happened…
Work has been tough. Nearly three months of work experience. People think it’s a fun job, designing things for people like menus and posters. It can be nice, but it’s sure tough and stressful. I mean, on the one hand, you have handymen coming in opening huge hotels and needing a poster to put on their window. You design something for them, and they love it. You feel all tingly inside. ‘Golly, that’s near a train station. Everyone’s gonna see my work.’ And then you get people like the chicken guy. People who remind you you’re really not getting paid for all this.
A menu is a hard thing to design. Countless layers and complicated functions. You spend days upon days working on it and he comes in and wants some changes. The whole damn thing. Hours and hours spent undoing all your work and starting again. And two days later, he comes in again. More changes! Sigh. I’m exhausted. I mean, I turned down a job at a warehouse once because I knew I wasn’t fit enough. I never thought I wouldn’t be fit enough for a graphic designer job. That’s how unhealthy I am. Put me in the laziest job in the world, sitting behind a computer for eight hours a day, and I’m still out of breath…
I don’t want to say I’m feeling more confident because I think I’m as shy as I ever was, but if you told me I’d be sitting down with a client for hours and hours on end, going into incredibly dull details about the position of a piece of chicken on his menu to the point where I had to find a BLOODY RULER, I wouldn’t have believed you. Sitting down for meetings with the boss. Getting a hundred projects thrown at me at once. I had one this week, a poster, in Arabic. That was fun. Put this line of text here, this one here, and so on. The boss, “Is that the right order?” “I… just, I just, haven’t – got a bloody clue…”
I was even left in charge once this week. There’s only four of us. One was off ill, the other two were off fitting a shop sign we’d designed. I was taking deliveries. Taking messages from clients. Sitting through projects with clients. I had carpet fitters to deal with. I think they that’s what they were. They had very thick Scottish accents. I had as much trouble with that as I did with the Arabic, to be honest…
I even had to help move some signs. 20 foot signs. 20 foot! Metal, as well. Now, I’m not saying I’m doing these things particularly well, I’m probably not because it’s a very steep learning curve, but I’m enjoying the chaos. It’ll come to an end soon and I’ll forget everything I’ve learnt because I have a brain like a sieve, but I’ve done things I never thought I would. Posters for nurseries. A logo and a flyer for a carpet shop. Countless business cards, some for companies down south. Tickets for rugby clubs. Stubs for events and weddings. A major hotel poster. And much more. I’m not a proud man. But I’m getting there.
Come five on Friday afternoon, after three long hours with a chicken takeaway guy, I really wanted to go home and collapse on my bed and weep. I left that old building where I work, at the centre of the university. I’d put my hood up and it soon blew away. My long hair – long overdue a serious trim – was a tangled mess, like when you put your finger on one of those electric ball thingies. My glasses were a mess, although I am so looking forward to my eye test this week. I was cold and feeling miserable. But soon, the punk took hold and I was feeling ever so cheery. The harsh tones of the dark music were a soothing comfort after so many hours staring at a piece of chicken.
I woke up on Saturday feeling tired and a bit drained, but not as sad as I thought I would be. I began my Saturday routine with a smile on my face, for once. Although it was quickly wiped off when I looked down at my incredibly hairy toes and made another terrible decision. I decided to give them a pluck. Turns out, that hurts like hell.
Sure, my toes are now completely hairless, but they’re now covered in all these huge but very pretty red dots, so that’s something I guess…
American drummer, singer, guitarist, songwriter, artist and legend, Francis Mark (b. 1983), once sung: ‘Music sparked a fire and it burns in me forever. When we get pushed apart, the rhythm pulls us back together.’
Peace Out :|:
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