Hangin’ In There
Art by Paul Rios
“How’s it going?”
It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, what I’m doing or if you are the first person to ask or the twentieth, I never answer that question in a positive way. There are varying degrees to my negativity, but it’s always the underlying theme. And if I’m at work, the best you’ll probably get out of me is a long sigh followed by, “Eh… it could be worse.”
It’s just something I do.
Last week wasn’t any different. I was running late to work—a common theme in my life—and didn’t have time for breakfast. “See you tonight, Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” I thought to myself as I grabbed my bag and left the apartment.
The weather was nice as I walked to work. The sun warmed my skin as I hit the corner of 21st and J, but not enough to make me sweat. It was summer, but it still felt like spring.
The picturesque morning, however, didn’t stop me from wandering into a negative mind space—the hunger brewing in my stomach had overpowered any and all positive thoughts I had about the start of the day.
As I traveled on, the happenings in my stomach elevated from tiny rumble to full-on earthquake of hunger. I glanced down at my phone; it was 9:05 a.m. I was late, but not late enough that I needed to haul ass to my desk.
I made up my mind—I was going to stop at La Bou.
I’ve tried to kick the habit of eating donuts and sweet treats for breakfast, but I was at the point of no return. The only thought occupying my mind was: How quickly can I sink my teeth into an almond croissant?
Whipping open the front door to the wannabe French establishment, I headed straight to the bakery counter to score the flakey treasure my stomach desired.
“May I help you?” the woman behind the counter asked. Her smile looked extra bright in contrast to the dark visor she was wearing.
“Uhh… no,” I replied with a thick disappointed accent.
Someone had decided to buy all the pastries that morning, leaving only a pair of lonely garlic bread slices tucked in the corner of the sparkly, glass case.
Feeling defeated, I left the shop and walked across the street to work. I entered the building, showed my badge to the security guard and made my way across the empty lobby to the elevators. After hitting the “up” button, the elevator dinged and opened its doors.
“Hi, Jacob,” a voice croaked from inside the darkened elevator.
“Ehm… hi,” I responded, surprised by the sudden conversation with a shadowy figure.
I walked into the elevator and realized the mystery guest was Beth, an older woman I used to work with on the third floor. I’m still not sure why she was riding the elevator up and down.
“It’s been a while,” she said, sounding half-asleep, as if she just woke up from a long nap. How are you doing?”
“Eh… I’m hanging in there,” I replied, still bummed about my lack of food.
“Hanging in there,” Beth said with sudden energy. She appeared to like my response. I was instantly confused.
Beth followed her outburst by throwing her arms in the air, doing what I thought was a spot-on impression of an orangutan.
“Hanging in there!” Beth repeated, her arms still dangling loosely in the air. “Like the cat poster!” She threw an enthusiastic “yeah!” in at the end for emphasis.
All I could do was stare in disbelief.
“Yeah… the cat poster,” I finally replied as she grinned and exited the elevator.
It was at that moment I realized motivational posters do work for some people.