Despite being generally optimistic and in constant observation of the working circumstances, the workplace has proved to me time and time again that: Things can, and will, take a turn for the worse.
I've aged recently, as perceived in the stark plummet of happiness levels from photos of previous years. Years in the public sector were hectic, yet never enough to unravel me to the extent that consulting has managed in under two years. Refusing to relinquish the rose-tinted spectacles I have always donned for this industry, I persevere. Alas, I've come to conclude to no amount of determination and hard work can overcome the bias and corruption embedded within corporate society.
- Dark Mode was adopted for the sake of the eyes. Extreme overexertion led to embers even behind closed lids, while my head would throb uncontrollably at the end of each work day.
- Discord was accepted - once and for all - for facilitating and organizing information in a recreational setting.
We took to the southeast end of the city to partake in a supposed "Winter Art Trail". It had been proposed as the hybrid option in response to desires for activity (me, of course) and art browsing.
Expectations had been modest, given the complimentary nature of the event. That said, we had anticipated, at a minimum, a series of self-led exhibits similar to those that adorned the Toronto Waterfront some years ago.
My suggestion for a nearby café stop was regarded fondly, and off we went to Tokyo Cheesecake Cafe.
The Tiramisu Latte revealed itself less creamy than previously and accompanied not by its the signature ladyfinger. Nonetheless delicious, the beverage was more reminiscent of a latte, given its thinner consistency. This aspect is not one to earn complaints though, since it paired well alongside our desserts of choice.
We pulled into the plaza and, I with some degree of skepticism, inched towards the double doors. Behind each was a metal gate, indicative of the crime level of the area, and behind the gate a flight of stairs that led to the basement level billiards facility.
From the front desk, we retrieved two cue sticks, a set of balls, and chalk. Spotted behind the plexiglass were several dusty Kenwood apparatus, snuggled deep within their cubbies underneath equally dusty teddy companions. The sight was familiar to me, alluding to my household's own Kenwood hi-fi system at home, thus contributing a sense of relief amidst uncertainty.
Our designated table would illuminate once assigned. Sauntering over with anxiety, I instantly felt out of place. "A newcomer" the other customers must have thought. Well, they had thought correctly.
Rules were explained to me, along with the availability of the bridge for hard-to-reach shots. Of the three rounds played, I had won one, even surprising myself by casting the white ball with enough force to land two balls in opposing pockets.
Overcome by a déjà vu moment in the first round, I came to the silent realization that my years of LINE Bubble 2 were not restricted to the world of mobile games. Years of experience with the virtual puzzle easily enabled me to visualize potential methods of winning; beyond straight shots, I was able to contemplate opportunities for side swipes, hits with diffused energy, and more. Of course, this is not to say that I was able to execute these moves in reality, though it surely provided a clear path for decision-making.
Bathroom stalls were located on the opposite end of the pool hall, past a cafeteria-style dining area lit in hazy red. As predicted, the two-stall lavatory was cold, eerie, and dilapidated. The lid to the toilet's internal mechanisms had been removed, exposing the flow of water with each flush.
We arrived at Chi-mac around the 7:30 PM mark to witness heavy traffic in both the dining floor and waiting area. Thankfully, the lineup spanned no more than ten minutes. Slotted into a booth reeking heavily of disinfectant, we were provided a jug of water and menus for perusal and notified of the service bell at the corner of the table. On its second press, a lady poked her head through the cloth curtains to obtain our order.
Chi-mac had skimped on the sauce for the Honey Garlic Chicken, which appeared donning a half-Fried/half-glazed appearance. Larger chunks than the morsels I had been accustomed to in takeout format, they offered greater crunch despite lack of uniformity.
My soul felt enriched by a new presence in my life - a presence linked strongly to gratitude, yet not one of a finite magnitude. There was noticeable deviation from the one-liner Thank You cards tacked to year-end workplace gifts. The sensation clarified itself as one yearning for perpetuity, which, in turn, spurred sadness at the unreliability of the future.
"I hope (it'll) stay in my life." was the eventual conclusion.