The Assembly Line

Does anyone else feel the pull of the cultural assembly line?  I’ve felt it for so long.  As long as I can remember, actually.  When we too young to remember, our parents prep us and placed us on this mechanical device.  As we move forward, our lives our created for us.  Can’t sit still?  We’ll prep you during preschool.  Want to spend your days drawing?  The classes you take during middle school will take care of that.  I can honestly see my younger self sitting at a desk.  The assembly line of western culture is hurtling me forward.  Wear this fashion.  Worry about this news.  Stand up against this invisible enemy.

I used to see it as little more than fun and games.  Then high school hit.  I watched people barely older than me go off and fight wars because they thought it was right—unaware that they were herded towards that their entire life.  When college hit, I became one of the many who followed the path we were supposed to.  Drown in debt.  I can’t help but wonder if this assembly line for the masses was built to rob us of our power, money, and freedom.  What better way to control us than to drown us in debt.

The assembly line tells me it’s time to get out of the desk.  Stand up.  Buy a suit.  Work as a grunt.  It is your duty.  You have to take care of your family, don’t you?  Oh.  You don’t have a family?  Here you go.  It is your job to produce kids.  Take care of kids.  Put them on the same assembly line that programs you.  If you raise your kid well enough, maybe they will gain control of the assembly line.  Keep that in mind.  You are doing this to better the standing of your family.  You are not being controlled.  You are striving for control.

But what of those people who stepped off the assembly line?  I must ask.  You tell me to not worry of them.  They are druggies.  They are outcasts.  They are deviants.  They are lowlives.  They are bums.  They are freeloaders.  You do not want to associate with them.  But they fascinate me.  I cannot help but step down from my assembly line.  Only for a second, I tell myself.  I must speak with one of them.

I go up to the young woman with the bong.  She doesn’t appear to be wearing a bra.  Her hair is in tangles.  I ask her name.  I ask her what she is doing with her life.  I ask her what she spends her day doing.  I ask her if she worries about her future.  I promised myself I would only step off for a second.  But I have met the most interesting person in the world in those short seconds.  How am I to return to my assembly line?

She grabs my hand and leads me away from the mechanical contraption that has pieced together my identity.   I see the network of friend and colleagues I have collected on that contraption.  They look at me with worry and disgust.  I have disappointed them.  I was doing so well.  Would I really trade it for the lowlives that don’t follow the rules?  I turn back to my love.  She opens the outside door to the warehouse I didn’t realize I was in.

The blaring sun is unlike anything I have ever seen.  I look away.  Back at the world I used to know.  My network is crumbling.  Those who I believed loved me are forgetting I existed.  I tell my love that I am not ready.  I rip my hand from hers and climb back onto the assembly line.  My friends greet me with smiles and laughter.  I am one of them again.  They do not ask where I have been.  They do not want to know.  I do not blame them.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t wish this knowledge on anyone.

19 July 2012

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One thought on “The Assembly Line

  1. Pingback: Writing on Culture | Richard Thomas Reilly

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