Sometimes at work I take a lunch break.
This in itself isn’t terribly interesting. But what I do during that lunch break is.
To me, anyway.
There’s a trail not too far from my building that I like to walk.
OK, maybe like isn’t the right word.
‘Medically necessary death march’ is probably a better description.
You see, my doctor wants me to lose weight, and since NASA has thus far declined to help in this endeavor, I walk.
The nice thing about the walking is-
Actually, there’s nothing nice about the walking. It’s a medically necessary death march, remember?
The thing I dislike the least during my grueling battle of wills against gravity and geography is when I take a late lunch.
At 3 o’clock, the trail is deserted.
No office mates taking their constitutional.
No creepy types hanging out to ogle the female joggers.
I have the trail, the marshlands, the birds, and the (probably plague-carrying) squirrels all to myself.
Also, the sound of the water treatment plant.
I have that to myself too, but that particular sound element I could do without.
Anyway, when I’m alone on the trail and work real hard at ignoring the fully operational water treatment plant, I can pretend it’s the apocalypse.
Goodness knows I feel like it’s the end of the world, after all that walking.
I pretend I’m alone after the fall of civilization, and I’m carefully striking out, looking for other survivors.
And avoiding the zombies.
There are zombies on these death marches.
I enjoy the solitude, the sense of foreboding adventure.
Mostly because I’m safe in the knowledge that it’s all pretend and there’s free coffee waiting for me at the office.
Free, decent coffee.
None of which makes the sound of airplanes overhead or the water treatment plant nearby any less annoying.
The hallmarks of civilization draw me out of my fun little fantasy almost before I manage to enter it.
This makes me sad.
Turns out I can’t escape civilization, even in my imagination.
That’s the problem with modern society – there are bits of it everywhere, so you just can’t dodge it.
You think camping, but there are always airplanes in the sky.
And rangers in their trucks, stopping to tell you not to leave your food out because, you know, bears.
And other campers, blaring their speed polka on their car radios until 3 in the morning, when you stalk over to their site, groggy, possibly in just your underwear, annoyed at everyone else in the park who is apparently too afraid to complain, and kindly and politely ask them to turn their music off, please, if they wouldn’t mind.
After you clear your throat several times, trying to get their attention.
Sometimes I really hate civilization.
It’s actually more frustrating at home, when I have no reason to expect a respite from the cacophony of Humanity.
I’ve mentioned my interest in capturing sound previously, and it is a never-ending source of bitter disappointment for me.
Because I can’t get the sounds I want without less …interesting… noises encroaching.
The other night we had some wind and a light rain, so I went out into my front yard to capture the sound of the leaves rustling and the water dripping from the tree branches.
Instead, I got a lot of cars driving by, and somewhere, in the near distance, the blare of a car horn consisting of the first few notes of ‘La Cucaracha’.
That song loses its charm very quickly, especially when you’re listening to the car horn version.
Which is going off every thirty seconds or so.
It’s moments like this that I wish I lived out in the boonies, away from the constant traffic, the inevitable bumping of elbows, and the background murmur of television programming.
Which invariably reminds me I need to run into the house and turn off the TV.
It’s just reruns of The Big Bang Theory, after all.
When I come back out, much to my disappointment, I find that the other noises are still there, not banished by the muting of my TV.
My desire to move returns.
But sans the empty blathering of society’s latest banal situation comedy, the desire isn’t painfully intense.
I stand in the cold wet wind, reflecting on the world around me and how much improved it is without The Big Bang Theory, when my thoughts drift to tomorrow.
And medically necessary death marches.
I recall just how grueling the commute is from my home, and moments later, the idea of moving has been discarded.
The next morning, I start-up my car, roll down the windows, and blare Classical music on my way to work.
Because I hate civilization.