i am tired of being jovial
I wonder what the life of someone who works carrying a sandwich board ad in Moscow is like.
He (let him be a man, though women seem to be just as many in the job) lives in a dinky flat on the very edge of the huge metropolis: twenty minutes by bus from the last tube station. The flat is small and gets quite chilly, but it is all he can afford with the rent so high these days – he was not one of the few people actually born in the city and is forced to settle for what little is available.
The owner is a lady in her fifties who wears brown cardigans, paints her nails red a tad too infrequently, and hardly ever shows up at the place, preferring instead to pick the money up every month somewhere on the metro. All the furniture reeks of a mixture of heavy perfume, cat piss, and age. Most of it is brown, the rest – of an indeterminate colour. Nothing matches, not even things that supposedly once came in a set. This may be for the best.
In the morning the tenant wakes up in a bed of flowered sheets, walks the cold floor to the cold bathroom, switches on the light, and brushes his teeth while staring at his reflection in the mirrored drug cabinet above the sink. Toothpaste water splashes onto the mirror, and his face looks as though there are white blotches on it. Shaving feels like too much of a hassle more often than not; probably, nobody looks at a walking sandwich board’s face anyway.
After a breakfast of salami sandwiches and tea (yesterday’s cold slimy leaves in a teapot which lacks a lid, a handle, and any sort of high tea glamour) he heads out. Though it is quite early, the bus is packed, and then so is the metro carriage. People knock and shove each other, trying to make way for their bags and paperbacks. It takes a while to get to the office, where the board is waiting, stored somewhere with dozens of its siblings. He works his head through it, then adjusts the straps.
Outside, the tourists have not woken up yet, and the working people only look at the ground they’re treading in case of encountering gum, litter, or someone they know but would rather not notice. The day is spent dragging his feet time and time again around the block, or repeating whatever the sandwich board says in a dull hollow voice, pestering the people who come out of the underground crossing. Every flyer he hands out gets thrown into the nearby bin or to the ground, never read, much like the board he is wearing.
When it is time to get home, he is worn out and angry. On the tube back home, he kicks and shoves with a vengeance, and does not get up to offer his place even to the oldest, most frail of grandmas. He does not call anyone; there is nobody to call. He watches tv for a while, eating something from a can, then makes some tea for there to be something stale to drink the next morning, goes to sleep, and dreams of being tired.
Or maybe it is all entirely different.