Working the same job, at the same time, in the same place every day, following the same routine for getting in and getting home, turns you into an automaton. This is not wholly a bad thing because sometimes you just have to get your head down and work - to support your family, to save for a house - and the more mindless your job is the easier it is to switch your mind off completely and let your body go through the motions.
That is what I have done for the last few years and I now want to switch my mind back on again. This means, however, that I will be forced to appreciate the full horror of working for the last few weeks. I am hoping that by blogging it, it won't be so bad.
My working day starts when I clock in. I lose money if I clock in late. I have a card with my name on it and my working day starts when that card slides into the machine with that familiar wrrzh and clunk. If someone else clocks me in, it doesn't feel as if my working day has started properly, so I have to walk to the clock machine anyway. That's how much of an automaton I have become, if the processes don't happen in the right order, or one process is missing, it throws the whole system out. By this time I will have parked my car in the same place as I always park it and will have picked my truck keys from the hook where they always hang. I then climb into my truck, fill in my tacho, do my vehicle checks, drive to the front of the building and get a cup of 55 normal from the vending machine. I then drink my drink while checking my load for the afternoon and have roughly the same conversations with the other drivers as I have done for years.
There are reasons why we are creatures of habit. I am sure that a social anthropologist could give you a fine academic term for the process and the evolutionary reasons why it happens but I'm not a social anthropologist so this is my take: by doing the same thing at the same time every day, it makes sure that that thing gets done without you having to think about it. It is a short cut, a well-programmed function key on a keyboard. From the minute my alarm goes off up until the time that I drive out of the yard after my hot chocolate and inane chat, the same things have to happen every morning so by doing them the same way every day, I don't really have to remember them.
I am programmed.
But that is also the road to cabin fever. That is the road to the human equivalent of the chained up bear on television appeals for Worldwide Fund for Nature, rocking from one side to the other, his head lolling from side to side. Long after the physical chains have been removed his mental chains still bind him to his enclosed space. This is why some old people just keel over and die as soon as they retire. This is why so many former servicemen end up in prison. Once you have been programmed it is very hard to be that free thinking, fish catching, tree climbing bear you were born to be.
That's why I'm getting out now while I still know how to catch fish.