The Pent Umbrage of the Tempy, Part XI
Those thirteen years ago when you dragged yourself in off the streets, you weren’t frightened by the idea of “boring” routine—boring routine was another name for oasis.
Frightfully mechanical and inhuman repetition without the relief of variety—was what invited youinto the Firm—it was the attraction. It didn't frighten you at all--it was what you wanted. Variety, variation, innovation, invention, caprice, spontaneity—that’s what you didn’t want—that’s what you had found frightful and you had to escape.
You had to find a Firm that was firm—well-organized. You had to have a place in the firm where no “initiative” would be required of you.
If you couldn’t find a firm which was firm top to bottom, you thought you could at least find firmness at the bottom—and that was what you did. Firmness of your firm was not uniform: it varied from top to bottom. The mail room was at the bottom, and it was thoroughly firm. No slack, no leniency. The top...you tried not to look or judge—but you knew it was spongy up there. You could never go up--to advance would ruin everything. You’d go mad up there—you could never allow yourself to rise.
You had to anchor yourself down. However, anchoring yourself too rigidly in the routine of the mail room presented the hazard of promotion (in recognition of diligence.) Too poor attention to detail could get you booted, fired, out of your sanctuary. A first question you faced: could you ply and navigate the details plying and navigating you? Could you take the delightfully demanding details of work in the mail room and use them to your ends, or would they always and only be that which made you useful, to whatever extent?