An Extra In The Walking Dead

Three weeks ago, I arrived back at London Heathrow airport.

Time flies when you’re unemployed. The hours spent eating generic salt-flavored chips and watching documentaries about three-legged mammoths all merge into one.

In between this plethora of excitement, it can sometimes be a struggle to keep your eye on the prize.

As well as the stress of word count deadlines and chapter structures, the realization that I have about £3.46 left to my name is starting to hit home.

Yesterday, I left my flat for the first time in three days. Yes, three days. The sunlight punched me in the chops. I felt like retreating back to my cave. Luckily, a group of black clouds negotiated the situation with what I can only describe as swag.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t looking my best. After plucking up the courage to re-enter a world that my remote control isn’t king, I hadn’t bothered to think about much else.

As I approached the local supermarket, someone came towards me. I hadn’t bargained for any human interaction. After all, I’d just nipped out to restock on necessities such as chicken, cereal and beer.

Yet here I was, being shouted at from across the street. Who were they? What did they want?

‘Are you looking for part time or full time work, sir?’.

Really? Was it that obvious? I looked at my reflection in a nearby window. I was wearing a shabby coat, ragged woolly hat and some greying sweatpants that I only wear when I’m hungover. Likewise, I was unshaven and probably yawning.

Fair play, I thought. Let’s see what career path they have in mind. Maybe they could send me back to Texas?

Before I even had time to assess the line of scrimmage, the next two words hit me in the face like a wet, smelly fish.

‘Bin Management’. (English to American translation: Bin = trash can).

First off, I hadn’t even heard or seen these words put together before.

‘You’d be emptying the bins in the local area’.

Thanks for the clarification.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people in the bin management industry. I’m sure it has its perks and a fair amount of glamour.

But it wasn’t for me.

I sloped back to my flat asking myself the same question. Why did they go straight in with that particular profession? Why not start a bit (much) higher and work their way down?

As I re-entered my flat, I saw myself properly in the mirror. Oh yeah, that’s why. I looked like a zombie.

Moments later, I showered, shaved and burned the clothes I had been wearing.

I then consoled myself with chicken and beer.

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