I was standing in front of the vast expanse of glass which interfaces between the outside world and my office complex with a coffee cup in my hand, looking out.
On one side of the glass wall, there was a hushed quiet, with the soft murmurs of people and the gentle drafts of ‘Carrier’ air only accentuating the calm. And a few inches away, there was a summer breeze blowing, rattling the fronds of the palm trees across the street and carrying the dust and the dry leaves this way and that. I looked up and only then did I notice the scaffolding mated to the building complex opposite. Perched delicately on it was a hard-hatted man. He was contorted in a way which told you at a glance that his legs would have gone to sleep within ten minutes of holding that posture. But he didn’t seem like he cared. With his knees cradling his hat, all one could see in motion was his left hand. He would pull it back above and back, mallet it hand and strike something invisible near his feet. There was nothing poetic about the motion. It was erratic. And sometimes the mallet would fall rapidly and hard, sometimes not at all. He even seemed to miss the target altogther a few times. With his right hand he would swipe his forhead in a rough flicking motion which was so inefficient that he was required to do so frequently.
Inefficiency? Why did a word like efficiency come into my head. Was it the draft ruffling my hair, or the soft purposeful murmurs behind me? I could not tell. But I knew that I was as numb to that man’s slow torture as the glass that seperated me from him. The glass which determined the elements and the environment within which we operated; which made me what I was: cold, efficient- Machine; And him what he was: soaked in heat and tortured, miserable and erratic- Human. But take the glass away and I would immediately be more akin to him. That is the power of what surrouds us. It determines what we are and the things we believe in. Unless we have already been on the other side. And then, you know. The canned air and the hush make nay a difference. For the glass dissolves. And under the hard-hat, with pores widened from years of toil & skin weathered beyond your years, suddenly you worry not about being efficient but when you can get to that part of the scaffolding which has some shade. And that is only one of your worries. But if he were to look down for a while and spy me, would the glass dissolve for him? Would he know, of the fragility of the glass and how it represents both my blessing and my curse. How that glass decides for me, the things I am allowed to do, and the things I am not? For the sake of efficiency of course. And the perpetuation of the calm that surrounds me.
Would he know then, that actually, he and I are but one?