Edgar looked out the train window as the tiny houses near the tracks passed by. When he had e-mailed his bosses in Europe of his decision, they could not understand why he had quit. How could they? Unless the rode the train, how could they?
It had gotten to where Edgar did not even think of the days as days. It was not like he ever saw the Sun. Up at 5am, when it was still dark. Eating a quick breakfast while everyone else in the house was asleep. Driving the mini-van 10 minutes to the train station.
In the old days the train ride itself was a peaceful interlude. Now, like everyone else on the train, each morning Edgar typed furiously into his iPhone trying to answer the hundreds of e-mails from Europe which had piled up during his nighttime. But he never caught up. People could send him e-mails faster than he could possibly respond.
It was just getting light when Edgar got to the office. But his office was in the basement of the building and he was at his desk before the sun rose fully. It was a private office and had a lovely faux window. The window had a little curtain and behind the curtain a frosted lighted glass that sort of looked like a real window. However, if you examined it closely, there was nothing behind the glass but a wall. As far as support staff went it was a good office, but like all support staff it was in the basement.
Sales & Marketing went out to lunch most days , but the support departments always stayed behind to man the phones and computers. They ordered lunch in and ate at their desks.
When Edgar finished the day it was usually dark. Still, he would walk to the train home feeling guilty that he had not finished everything.
It all changed one day when Edgar started looking out the train window on the ride home, instead of working on his iPhone. He could see into the windows of the houses. People were having dinner together, or watching T.V. or playing with their kids. They had lives. He stared looking out the train window every day on the ride home. There were real things happening. People were going to evening mass. One family was barbecuing in the backyard despite the fact that it was Winter and they all had their coats on. Edgar realized that these people all had lives and he did not.
Along with the rest of his department, Edgar started going in on Saturdays to try and catch up. The company had been cutting back people in the support groups to save money, but had not reduced any of the work. The people who were left had to work more and more. One clever woman in the office said she felt like Alice in Wonderland. “I have to run as fast as I can just to stay in the same place.” Edgar wished he felt that good. He was running as fast as he could and still getting more behind each day.
Whenever he got home his kids were already asleep and sometimes his wife was too. He often had dinner alone and it struck him that he had all three of his meals alone every day except Sunday. One day a week to have a life and usually he was too tired that day to do anything.
Edgar had avoided talking to his wife Keri about what he wanted. When he finally told her he was going to quit and had no idea what he was going to to next she surprised him by saying calmly, “It’s about time. They were killing you.”
Edgar had quit and left early. It was strange to be on the train home when it was still daylight. He could see people jogging in parks while other people walked dogs.
The train pulled in and Keri and the kids were waiting at the station for him. Keri had driven him to the train that morning and said they would go out to dinner as a family when he got home. Keri was smiling and Kevin and Eva were jumping up and down saying “Daddy!, Daddy!”
Edgar stepped off the train and walked towards his Life.