anonymity 2

“Yes, sir, right away, sir,” Ethan said. He smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes. His job was to be at the service of anyone who came in the door. If he wanted tips (and he did), he had to be pleasant and friendly. All day long. To everyone.

Sitting in his darkened room with only the glow from the computer screen lighting his way, he typed furiously. It felt good. He might have to be cheerful and compliant at work, but that ended at five p.m. Social media, look out. He’d tell those idiots out there a thing or two about politics and religion and race. You can say what you really think when it’s just you and the keyboard.

*All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?

Weekends never failed to disappoint even though Mia’d looked forward to them for five days. The relief of not having to get up early and fight traffic gave way to the reality of a list of chores that seemed to stretch out the door.

“Excuuuuse me!” she barked at the white-haired woman who was blocking the grocery aisle. She bumped her cart, rattling the contents and the woman, who scurried to get out of the way. Nothing made Mia madder than when someone stood gazing at the crowded shelves, debating on prices or reading nutritional information. Old people! They had weekdays to get their cat food and Rice Krispies. Why did they have to bumble around on weekends, when she had a thousand things to do? She was careful not to make eye contact.

All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Luke couldn’t remember feeling rested. The new baby started crying every evening and kept it up most of the night. No matter how little he’d slept, Luke had to show up for work every day. Sometimes he felt like an overinflated tire; just one more puff of air and he’d explode.

BEEEEEP! He lay on the horn. That blue Honda had been tailgating him for miles, and now it was trying to cut in front of him. Well, not happening, jerkface. He stomped on the gas, never letting up on the horn, missing the Honda’s back bumper by a hair. He smiled when he saw the other driver give him the one-finger salute. Oh, it’s on, he said aloud, swerving toward the blue car, accelerating to pass, then braking sharply. The adrenalin rush was intoxicating. For a moment he felt energized with rage. He’d never see that guy again.

Ah, look at all the lonely people…


*From Eleanor Rigby by John Lennon and Paul McCartney



7 thoughts on “Anonymity

  1. This may be a touch cerebral for me. It is football season, after all. On the other hand, I may just be in a Three Stooges mood. Although, considering the actions of the trio in this morality play, maybe there’s a convergence I failed to recognize.


  2. I had a hard time bringing this one in for a landing – maybe it’s a belly-flop. The convergence is about being so wrapped up in our own lonely little worlds that we fail to recognize the humanity in others. And if I have to explain it….I need to rewrite it.


  3. Did they recognize, understand loneliness? Each one, especially Ethan, sounds pretty narcissistic… if you are the biggest, most critical person in your own world, would you need or miss another person? Luke sounds as if, for whatever reason, he is a single father, one who enjoys rage and uses it. Mia at least avoids eye contact, so perhaps there might be hope for her some day.


  4. I saw the common thread of the pressures of everyday life and the need to relax and vent and remember that we have so much in common. Being kind and considerate would help each of the three characters cope more easily with life. We are lonely when we are isolated and displaced. We are at our best when we empathize with others. I think you earned frequent flyer points with this one!


  5. Really good piece, Doris! A compilation of vignettes of stressed out individuals who are reaching out in a negative way, to say the least. And all are essentially cowards in their anonymity. Maybe if they faced the other person, they might just see that they are not the only ones that are struggling. And realize their humanity. I also liked the John Lennon lyrics to showcase our isolation in society. With the vignettes, you show how we can be alone in the middle of a crowd, using our anynonmity as a shield and weapon. This is a somewhat different style format here with the lyrics and vignettes and I must say that you pulled it off very effectively and meaningfully.


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