making it

once
on this ball-busting
job
I asked the worker
next to
me,
“how do we know
we’re not in hell
right
now?”

he didn’t
answer
he
thought I was
crazy to think
we were in
hell.

what it
was:
he was not
in
hell, I
was.

I
looked at the
other
workers.
they weren’t
in hell
either.

the foreman
walked up
behind
me.

“Chinaski,
what are you
looking around
for?”

“I
want to see
where I
am.”

“you’re at the
A-Gleam Lighting
Company.”

“thanks.”

“and no talking
on the
job.”

“what?”

“I saw you
talking to
Meyers.”

“is that why
he didn’t
answer?”

“answer
what?”

“nothing.”

“stay on top
of your job,
Chinaski.”

he walked
off.

“Meyers,” I
said, “I’m in
hell.”

he didn’t
answer.

I
looked at
the wall
clock:
25 minutes
until lunch,
30 minutes
for lunch,
then
5 more
hours

plus 2
overtime,
an hour to
drive home,
ten minutes
to
bathe,
an hour to
eat,
20 minutes
to read the
paper and
maybe beat
your
meat
and in
another
hour
you’d be
asleep,
to wake
up,
dress,
get a
coffee,
an
hour to
drive
back,
half a day
Saturday
back
Monday.

then I
heard Meyers
hissing:

“you son of
a bitch,
you don’t
like the
job,
quit!”

“Meyers, I’m
proud of
you, you
spoke!”

then the
foreman was
behind me
again.

“Chinaski,
what did
I tell
you
about
talking?”

“told me
not
to.”

“well?”

“now you’re
forcing me
to
talk.”

“don’t be
a wise
guy.”

he walked
off.

“Jesus, Meyers
I almost got
canned.”

he didn’t
answer.

“and Meyers,
next time you
call me a
son of a
bitch,
I’m going to
knock you
on your
ass.”

then he
was in
hell.

and
it was
18 minutes
until
lunch.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1990
Source
Original manuscript