The Ants Go Marching
A coworker scrubbed the security footage from yesterday and found nothing.
My car is apparently just falling apart. I've taken good care of it over the past five years and this is how it repays me. My husband worked the lock and door handle back in place, though I'll have to visit the dealership for a more permanent solution.
The day was full of small tasks that piled up like grains in an ant hill.
Signs of industry. And then, a month or a year or a decade later, dust and dirt once more.
My creations have little physical presence. A few kilobytes on a hard drive or a web server. Gone are the days when advertising relied on print and film. These new digital methods of communication are far less wasteful but far more ephemeral.
Will I look back on these busy days with Mad Men-esque nostalgia, when I'm too old to hold a corporate job? Or will my past work seem as inconsequential as the dirt of so many ant hills?
I love how Joshua Ferris captures this dichotomy in his first novel about life in an advertising agency, And Then We Came to An End. I've purchased several copies over the years and given them to colleagues. I can't help but hoist the book upon them, as if to say, This. This is what we have together.
"How we hated our coffee mugs! our mouse pads, our desk clocks, our daily calendars, the contents of our desk drawers. Even the photos of our loved ones taped to our computer monitors for uplift and support turned into cloying reminders of time served. But when we got a new office, a bigger office, and we brought everything with us into the new office, how we loved everything all over again, and thought hard about where to place things, and looked with satisfaction at the end of the day at how well our old things looked in this new, improved, important space. There was no doubt in our minds just then that we had made all the right decisions, whereas most days we were men and women of two minds. Everywhere you looked, in the hallways and bathrooms, the coffee bar and cafeteria, the lobbies and the print stations, there we were with our two minds."
If it's true that my ad copy will one day become meaningless, perhaps is already meaningless, then what does that mean for my other writing? Does its personal nature lend it longevity, or is it, too, destined to become effluvia of the past?
The smell we book lovers find so intoxicating, after all, is the smell of decay. Of crumbled bindings. Mildewed paper. Book glue dried to dust.
53/365. Image courtesy of MaxPixel and used under a Creative Commons license.