Tony James slammed the last of his belongings into his backpack and scooped it up off the floor.
He stared around his office for one last time.
It had all been so bright and new the first time he walked out of the elevator and stared upon the rows of neat little desks. It had looked efficient, professional and, as he had taken his seat behind his own desk, he felt like he was a crucial part of something…
He felt like he was making a difference.
Now, it all looked so pathetic. Behind each desk sat overworked, underpaid human beings, weighed down by stress and subjected to fear. They were all unhappy – Tony knew that more than most – and, as he made his way back to elevator, he began to wonder…
Six years of faithful service.
That had been what he’d given the Company.
What was it all for?
Whatever they asked for, he had given it willingly. Every favour they requested was met with a large, beaming smile and Tony’s unrelenting enthusiasm. With every favour he gave them, Tony felt like he was building capital with them…
He felt like he had their respect.
But too much time had passed. The Company had been given too many opportunities to repay those favours and not once had they ever decided to do so.
When they had wanted something the line was always the same:
‘It is your duty to go above and beyond.’
‘We’re always keeping an eye on those who go the extra mile…’
‘We admire our more flexible employees…’
And yet, when the boot was on the other foot, the response was surprisingly droll:
‘We can’t really bend the rules for anyone…’
But the worst thing – the truly worst thing – was that Tony was becoming just like them…
He could hear their cynical bitterness gnawing at his ear. He could hear their robotic arguments coming from his own mouth. He could even hear his own tortured soul crying out in anguish as the last of his morality was grinded into the obscurity of corporate logic…
Enough was enough.
If Tony wanted any part of his soul left over, he had no choice but to leave.
And the feeling was truly liberating.
As he stepped out on to the street under the shadow of his old office building, he felt an extraordinary relief pass over him. It was as though the very wind around him had swept away the corporate shackles that had kept him chained behind his desk.
He had no job – but that wasn’t a problem.
I can always do freelance work, he thought to himself. People always need IT guys…
He walked down the street with his head held high.
The wind whipped through the back of his hair.
His step sprung and bounced with renewed enthusiasm.
He was free…