The epitome of office life and the key lesson-carrier in the novel, Rosa is the struggling paper pusher in the administrative office, one who over exerts herself by aligning with altruism as a justification with disregard for the consequences, physical and emotional. She epitomizes the slippery nature of altruism and its deceptive ability to entrap people into the evil of institutions, that you should “give everything,” leading to that cliché, which is self-purporting of the evils of altruism, “I have no time for myself.” Indeed, altruism should be held as a moral, though not as a principle. It enslaves teachers to institutions. It controls administrators’ work schedules. It forces people to focus on things bigger than themselves, without requirement that the outcome or reward for work be tangible. The evasive, almost mystical sense of altruism is devious at best, for it promotes an idealistic “better than you” and “better than man” mentality that service in the smallest form is better than individual investment, no matter the size. Altruism is rooted in idealism, and closely linked with religion. A concept great in theory but poor in effectiveness, one can compare altruism to community in the following relationship:
Altruism is to idealism as
Community is to failure.
One should give everything to something else (altruism) is a great moral that is idealistic, not realistic. Realistically, people will think within their own interests. Similarly, a community is a stupendous idea, but doomed to fail in most cases, based on the previous premise of altruism being idealistic, not realistic. Communities also promote altruism, and ironically most communities will not address or attempt to solve, most ironically, the troubles that divide the community. It is best (and easiest) for most communities to continue drawing in people, rather than accept reality that the idea may not be working.
Provided I head down this route, this is the key irony defining the loopholes in “community.” The administration is wrapped up, Chacha and Rosa in particular, in their own interests rather than those of their clients. I may change this to be a school. In the case that it is, Chacha and Rosa are distracted by each other, and Rosa is so swamped with work consistently that she often refers to herself as a slave, rather jokingly though it leaves a depressing taint in her wake, working away, moving a mountain, she says, metaphorically aligned with the story of the man pushing the rock up the hill, and then having it fall, and push it up, again and again and…again.
Rosa critiques entrepreneurs, in particular a student, which her advertent and often inadvertent promotion and need for gossip lead to a student being expelled for “not fitting within the social fabrics of the institution.” Though the student had violated no policy, he was expelled or, more euphemistically, “separated” or “removed,” even, from the school. Rosa feels a slight degree of guilt but the severity of the action on behalf of the administration seems too strong to be true, too extreme to have possibly resulted from her action.
Of course, it didn’t. The entrepreneur had already pissed off one too many administrators, and they too were whispering in corridors, fake smiles pasted on in his presence but dissipating into frowns in his absence. They too hate him, though they are never sure why.
Community service is a euphemism often for child labor in the most extremes. There are few boundaries in which limit community service from calling itself moral. Unfortunately, child labor is often not one of those boundaries as long as it better serves the community within reason. Ah yes, “within reason,” i.e. within the institution or community’s definition of reasonability.
Rosa, working hard, a cute girl in high school, and even cuter one in college. Something happened and she gained 40 pounds over the course of six months, leading to frustrating relationships with peers declining and to make changes in her lifestyle like more vitamins and eating less. Having to be selective about eating frustrates her. Cursed with genes that explode with obesity around 35, it is hardly her fault, she thinks, but she doesn’t know that the genes are only activated when coupled by excessive calorie intake. Too many doughnuts, late nights, and stress contribute to her increased physical growth, her normally cute, blonde face now cut to pieces by scratching at acne scars from college/high school and making them bleed due to boredom, nerves, and general insecurity that unfortunately leads, consequently, to her face as she now has multiple acne scars. Seems to imply she is young and immature. Some of her coworkers seem to treat her as such, and the office is already rife with invisible condescension towards her. She is a fat, blond, American, trapped as an administrator in a world designed to make her succeed, which doesn’t make much sense. Her body is now 4 sizes (in clothing) larger than it was 6 months ago. Tears late at night make things worse, but the ice cream from Haagen Daz provides temporary relief.
She was beat up once in a while by her father. Existing eternally in the middle class, she has little aspiration to rise above or below. Trapped into the administration world, she arranges meetings, conferences, and makes sure that Scoreboard “keeps running smoothly.” A quote from her, explaining her importance at an “open house” “take your kid to work day.” The shame is that she has a boyfriend, but no family. The boyfriend comes up sparsely at work…she seems to hide him. Perhaps the shame of him (he’s a good guy, but that’s about it), or about her having a boyfriend and others wondering who the “hell would date her,” or her just not wanting to talk about why she eats so much at work and not at home. It’s because she does not make enough money to pay to cook food at home—for the both of them, anyway. She is secretly saving up money, hoping to move out and start a fork business. A tad soft, she refers to it as “cutlery entrepreneurship” that takes up a “lot of time,” which is why she “sometimes doesn’t have time to talk” (to people). A seemingly cheerful character, she weighs down the room by having a neutral expression while others make jokes about how McDonalds has invaded the world. She has long since lost the ability to genuinely laugh, and can only laugh at others, but quickly sucks in her tummy subconsciously and nervously holds her hips to get the spotlight of attention off of her. The irony is staggering: she laughs at others to make them feel bad, but being such a bitch, many laugh at her. It has a compounding effect, and her friendships decline in inverse proportion to her weight. Her self esteem is very sinusoidal; related to anxiety. Sometimes it’s up, and sometimes it’s down. You never know why, and when you ask, you get “your fuckin head bit off” (2 p.m., Jim, Tuesday, February 21st, 2012)
Her desire to start a cutlery business is highly ironic, but she keeps it very under wraps. As an administrator in the administration culture, she is trained to hate entrepreneurs, trained to dislike those who deviate from the game to find better meaning than a simple formula run by the mob out of fear of being individuals. Though secretly, she likes the idea of entrepreneurship, though not through the lens of “doing something different,” “avoiding the game,” or similar. She does it simply because it gives her a thrill, she’s kind of like one of those suburban mommies who does something insignificant on the weekend to make herself feel good. Cutlery for some reason is her thing.
Her drastic fear of attention and haranguing has led her to choose a safe job that has no reward but thankfully has no risk. She secretly wants Chacha, and notices that Jim glances at her once in a while, but feels uneasy and sometimes hates his smirk, giving it more warrant and perceived judgment often than such smirks have.
She works from 6-9 p.m. on a good day. On a bad one, she’s there from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. She often stays later because of Chacha, who likes to work late for extra money and to stand out. Chacha is a secret over achiever, though it is so ingrained in his work ethic that he hardly notices it, quite to his benefit (in terms of relations with his boss) and (in terms of social situations) his detriment.
Chacha—Chacha Bates has an English last name, but an American accent with a hint of a Creole accent. His mother was from Jamaica, who was married to an Englishman when they colonized Jamaica (check date). This has influence on his view of the world, from the racism he sometimes experiences to everyday American politics, such as the War on Terror. He is angered every time America oversteps its boundaries in other countries, and incidents like Arabs being killed by invasive, encroaching American soldiers angers him, though not enough for him to notice why. He is just a little embittered by poorly planned military action or performance. He often, through a bit of light, crafty smile and unbuttoning of his blazer while standing in his office as Rosa comes in, asks if he can stay later and Rosa of course says yes. A depressing relationship, she longs for Chacha but it is hardly reciprocated.
It would be different if she lost weight, but DQ and recruiting events prevent that. Rosa is a lover of curly fries and the irresistible Maple Leaf donuts, the large rectangular ones with absurd calorie numbers and sugar toppings. She is often too lazy to make food when she gets home, and of course has enough money for only one (herself or her boyfriend, but not enough for a meal for both). So they have a stifled, slightly awkward relationship, seen obviously when they are alone and even more so when they are in a group. The two may fall in love, and marry. Or, at least make use of Chacha’s table.
He will provide her with so much self esteem, she may lose weight to please him. However, if Chacha does not notice, for he is too much of a modest, hard working gentleman to say “wow. Weight watchers really worked!” instead just says, with a neutral tone for fear of reprimand “you look different.”
Rosa will break into tears, and say “that’s all you say. That’s all you say?” And walks quickly out of the room and closes the door a tad too loudly, not enough to be a social gaffe but enough to carry emotional weight.
Chacha’s gentlemanlike behavior, his fear of saying inflammatory things, his desire to simply get along with people, once in a while works against him. He often plays things safe, for it is the character behavior he is more inclined to do.
Rosa has heard the “you look different” or “hm” or “maybe this dress will look better” and often interprets such phrases not as nice statements, but as insults glossed over with cute wording and euphemisms. Which, having gotten nice statements about her weight, is so touchy that she has misconstrued even “you look fine” (the most severe situation) to mean “whatever, you look fat and you know it. Now let’s go.”
So, to no surprise, Rosa breaks into tears, ruining their second and making Chacha wonder what the hell he did wrong. Applying intellect, he sees her as a sensitive bitch, not a nice girl turned into a sensitive bitch.
They don’t see each other again. Though for the need of a happy ending, she smiles at Chacha as he walks into the elevator, and he smiles back. A second chance for both of them, perhaps. Though the reader will interpret it as a future date, a new future. Perhaps symbolize this with leaving the workforce, a new life, filled with happiness, rather than boredom and “goddamn wallflowers” “buzzing Buzz Lighters” and the lot.
Chacha…he is sometimes bored, though he never knows why and never acknowledges that he is. He stares off into space sometimes, sometimes at the wall, and sometimes cries. He doesn’t know why. And he quickly wipes the tear away, for that is weird, un-gentlemanlike (unless a woman is near to wipe it for you ), and hardly is who he wants to be, what he identifies himself with, and yeah. Chacha cannot determine what makes him cry, and blames it on allergies. He is dealing with allergies, and it makes perfect sense. He does not suspect the real reason.
Chacha often gets the feeling of being “stagnant,” of moving nowhere, of doing nothing. He hates it, and this is why he cries, because he is too charming, too high a level of self-awareness, too able-minded at his work to not be able to anticipate what driving along the 5-20 will be like, arriving at Scoreboard, briskly walking by Rosa with a curt hello, not short for it to be a social gaffe but quick enough to carry emotional tension, he hated knowing he would sit at this desk like he’d sat at it since Monday, he knew what the lunchroom would be like, how to work the entire room in his favor, get the boys to like him and do shots with him after work hours, or hell, any time during work…
Provided I integrate this with the story on high school,
He was considering doing yoga, and very privately looked at yoga classes. He was unsure if he wanted to join, but doesn’t know what is holding him back. He suspects an ancillary fold of his gentlemanlike characteristic is holding him back. Though his respect for different religions and cultures will override this hesitancy, coupled with a desire to see the world in the present, and perhaps, through meditation, see that “invisible person” he senses who laughs at him, always laughing, at his every moment in that office, doing little more than laughing, and never stopping, as though there was always something else, and forgetting about it was out of the question…
Who gave a fuck if he pushed paper around, smiled at Hal, and made his 250 K? It was all a joke, some guy’s prank, to put an intelligent man in the midst of mediocrity and watch the chaos unfold, what a good practical joke, and indeed it would be entertaining, can you imagine, objectively watching the equivalent of two people speaking different languages, occasionally being offended by the impressions they make of what communications the other is sending, and watching the relationships build and then fall, fall like they had never been built in the first place…there are soap operas in America built quite literally off of this script, though of course made in a different theme though with the same intention of cheap entertainment, yes, that was it, that was what bothered Chacha, though he as a person still does not know, it is that the world in which he exists is as “real as a Twinkie,” and as “dramatic as a soap opera,” and no one, not a single person, can see this but him, as he zones out in team building exercises and Snack Wednesdays, watching Rosa sneak a second donut when no one was looking because everyone had seen her do it every Snack Wednesday…Rosa eyeing him like he’d give her a chance, though he would, simply for the entertainment of it, the satire, the bleeding nature of hell, that one hopes if he engages in “the game” of life enough, eventually, he will learn to like it, and, coupled on that, it provides him the entertainment for what he does not understand is that (at least) the primary objective observer that laughs at his life is him, his own mind, not necessarily polluted by an ultra-powerful God, but his own satirical image on the world…that yes, if he had sex with Rosa, he would be “crushing it,” he’d be a “stud,” and “all the boys would like him (for a week)”, and he at the end of the week would sneer at the irony of it, though fortunately, and unfortunately, no one would join in on entertainment. Fortunately, he does not recognize the unfortunate nature of living a lonely life, and thus, he will never regard it as lonely.
Men like him…see the recording device for a 15 minute info audio recording on this. Men like him don’t fit in and were always harangued. Though a gentleman turns the other cheek, or in the most cliché situation, strikes the infant with an umbrella and struts away with a plethora of anger!
Of course, not the pair of leather gloves. No, that would be far too stereotypical.
Chacha, post the elevator scene with Rosa, might leave Scoreboard to “start something new.” Hal might offer him lots of money, but Hal will never understand, for it isn’t about money, it’s about passion, and following what he loves. Maybe he then marries Rosa and they leave the institution, in part out of passion for something else but also because they find it stifling. “This is something you will never understand, Hal,” and Chacha walks out of the room, an air of swagger to him.