On the way to work Friday morning a friend of mine passed a medium-sized blue whale. The whale was sitting on a bench waiting for the number three bus. He was also reading Charles Darwin. “I don’t believe it,” my friend said.
“What?” replied the whale. “Like you’ve never seen a medium-sized blue whale sitting on a bench reading a book while waiting for a bus before.”
“Not that,” my friend replied. “I don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. I’m a creationist.”
Sometimes seeing isn’t necessarily believing.
Burning the Candle at Both Ends
I passed myself on the way to work this morning. I was heading back home at the time. “Burning the candle at both ends?” I asked. I was too tired to respond, so I just nodded my head and kept walking.
A Matter of Perspective
I passed a younger version of myself on the way to work this morning. I was eleven years old.
“Wow,” I said.
“I wish I was more self-confident back then,” I told myself.
“I wish I turned out differently,” I replied.
“I had such low self-esteem,” I said.
“And I had such high hopes,” I replied.
I went to work feeling absolutely miserable, but I went to school feeling even worse.
I passed a critic on the way to work yesterday. “Your ‘on the way to work’ stories are getting pretty old. They always start the same way.” I chose not to respond, being above such nonconstructive dialogue and also violently passive aggressive. The day at work went by without significant event. On the way home from work, however, I passed a sardine-juggling dolphin riding a unicycle whilst wearing a blindfold, chewing bubble gum, and smoking six Spanish cigarettes.
Upon reaching home, I sat down at my computer determined to type out the odd encounter for posterity. I debated between ending the tale with the arrival of the duck-billed platypus or the shocking death of the second-to-last Yeti known to exist. Both events were highly unusual, even for my commutes to and from work.
Before I could begin typing, however, the critic returned.
“Please,” he said. “Don’t tell me you’re going to recount that mundanity. I mean, seriously, you should write an exciting story for once. Use your (obviously limited) imagination. Don’t just write about what you know, about the real-world events that occur on your normal and normally boring commute to work. Write from your mind, write from your soul. Be creative!”
“You have to admit,” I said, “the argument between the duck-billed platypus and that peat bog man did entertain the African Children’s Choir for a good hour.”
“I admit nothing,” the critic replied. “Tollund Man is old news. Peat bog bodies are found all over northern Europe.”
“Fair enough,” said I. “What about the brawl between the door-to-door knife salesmen and the executive branch of the Professional Knife Thrower’s Association? Surely that was cutting edge stuff.”
“Sure,” the critic replied, “If you’re an amateur raconteur with a playground sense of humour and a junior kindergarten education. I’m telling you, my man, come up with something interesting to write about for a change! Honestly, that evolution of the blue whale crap you wrote a few months back? Boring. Darwin-reading whales are extremely common.”
“All right then,” I said. “Give me an example. What should I be writing if not the occasionally dull but truthful tales of my commute to work?” ‘
“I’m glad you asked,” replied the critic. “I have a perfect example right here. Ahem, (cough, cough), “On the way to work today I passed fourteen people, seven cars, four dogs, three squirrels (and six acorns), a bicyclist, and a policeman.”
I waited, but the critic seemed finished with his tale. “That’s not a story,” I said. The critic got quite upset.
“Everyone’s a critic,” he shouted, before stomping off. He slammed the door on his way out. Disappointed by the entire event, I turned off my computer and went to bed without writing a single word.
On the way to work today I passed fourteen people. They were dressed like clowns and were being chased by seven cars. The first four cars were being driven by four dogs (all Dalmatians, of course) while the next three were driven by brown squirrels (with two acorns tucked neatly in each cheek). I let the odd parade pass me. I was just about to advance when a cyclist whisked by, followed shortly by a policeman (on foot and waving a rather cartoon-ish billy club over his head).
When I arrived at work, a coworker asked me, “So, how was the drive in today?”
Plagued by unexpected self-doubt, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Nothing unusual happened, if that’s what you mean.”
Jason E. Rolfe writes absurdist fiction for fun and (very little) profit. His work has appeared in numerous print and web-based venues including, recently, miNatura (Spanish Language), Sein und Werden, and The Ironic Fantastic.
Lead image: “DSC06365” (via Flickr user The Man-Machine)