Bob felt his arms feel like jelly. He didn’t really understand why, but this coal vein couldn’t be accessed by machinery. His boss simply handed him a pickaxe and a bucket and told him to get to work. It was exhausting, and he hated every second of it. But that was normal. He always hated every second of his job. He wanted out, and he had been applying all over.
As he worked the ground with his pickaxe, he noticed a strange spot. A black blob etched into the rock. It almost seemed like coal, but it was reflective, like obsidian maybe? Bob felt a very sudden urge come on him to strike the black spot. He couldn’t explain it, it was like standing on a balcony and getting the urge to jump. It was like the urge he had every morning to just drive away and not go into work. This time though, he couldn’t fight it. He picked up his pickaxe and threw it down on the black spot. It instantly crumbled into a tiny, unremarkable hole. Bob shrugged, weird, though he wasn’t a cave scientist or anything, so maybe that happened all the time.
The rest of his day was the same garbage as always. Dreading every second of it, until his shift ended and he got to drive home and indulge his fantasy of a career change. Bob sat down at his computer and loaded up some job search sites. As he got ready to apply, however, something seemed to shift in his mind. After all, he was working in a coal mine, he was making good money, right? He didn’t want a pay cut, right? He liked being a blue collar man, he took pride in doing the work no one else would. He was hero, a real American. He didn’t need a new job, his was just plenty.
The next day at work was awful. The boss was on the warpath, screaming at anyone and everyone he came across, and he came across Bob a lot. Bob felt his body struggle with the work. He almost fell asleep on his lunch break. His whole day was just a mess. The entire time what kept him going was the dream of escaping, the dream of something new, something different.
That night he again sat at his computer. Again he loaded up the job sites. Again he started to have second thoughts, thoughts about his coworkers and how he enjoyed hanging out with them and would miss them. Miss the camaraderie. Bob skimmed the job listings and decided none were worth it.
This cycle continued, over and over, year after year. Friends left the job, the boss got angrier. One day the boss was replaced by an even angrier one. Bob felt himself age, felt his muscles ache, and almost even felt his hair grow grey. With each part of his body breaking down he found it harder and harder to do his job. Every day he’d tell himself to quit, and every night he would tell himself to put up with it just a little bit longer.
Finally, there was a cave in. Rocks and debris poured onto Bob, crushing every bone in his body. He had just enough time to ponder that this job had finally killed him.
Suddenly he awoke. He was young again. He looked down and saw the crumbled pit of black whatever he was so intent on breaking. He swore to quit the next day. He got home that night and started to think. After all, he was working in a coal mine, he was making good money, right? He didn’t want a pay cut, right?