At Least You Are Paid Well


Part 1/11 of the 'Wage Slave' - Out Now: eBook, Paperback & Audible

Prefer audio to text? Listen to this chapter instead!

Rolling hills of green pine sway softly in the wind. The sun, high in the sky, is casting its golden gaze upon your bare chest. You lay there, basking in the warmth, content. A calm trickling sound catches your attention. Your gaze falls lazily upon the crystal clear water of a small flowing river beside you.  You could spend an eternity here ...

“Beep, Beep, Beep.”

Every morning you are in a rush. Cringing at the shrill alarm, you relish the warmth for another second. The sheets are hugging you, the bed is soft. It is almost pleading with you to stay.

Last night was a big one and you feel exceptionally hungover, but you are not. Those days are long gone. The “big one” was the new Smith account that required everyone to stay late and push through.

At your pay grade it is expected that you will stay back. Your position practically demands it. Still, staying back means staying up late, and staying up late means fast food for dinner and sleeping pills for dessert. It also means that you wake up with all of the symptoms of a hangover from a night out, but with none of the fun.

At least you are paid well.

“Beep, Beep, Beep.”

Wincing at the coldness of the hard wooden floor below your feet, you step out of bed and audibly yawn. You proceed to shuffle to your coffee percolator and hit the strong serve button, adding two sugars and extra cream.

A quick glance at the clock confirms your suspicions, you need to get a move along. So you a take perfunctory shower and shave and grab the first packaged treat you find in your cupboard. There is never time for a full breakfast, so the doughnut and accompanying coffee will have to suffice.

You know you should eat better, your tailor often jests that the regular alterations to your suits are keeping him in business. It is all in good fun of course, he is a pleasure to do business with, and his work is always of exceptional quality. He of course charges well for his services, but the banter, that’s free.

Your doctor was less playful during your last visit however. Increased heart rate, blood pressure and fat analysis results all point towards bad things in your future. You tell him you will change, but you know you won’t. There is never enough time in the day to have a proper meal, or to exercise at all, right?

Whilst devouring the doughnut and gulping the coffee, you grab your phone and start searching the net for the best weight loss specialist. Perhaps a stomach clamp or liposuction procedure will be the answer.

At least you are paid well.

Another worried glance at the clock has you racing out the door, into the waiting Uber. The driver greets you with a smile and some pleasantries, then proceeds start chaperoning you to the station. As he pulls out you snatch a quick glance at the sports car in your driveway. Red. Your dream car. Driving it out of the lot that day brought tears of elation, you had truly made it. But there it sits, relegated to weekend and holiday duties. When you take them that is. Still, she’s well maintained and can sure go when you want her to.

But there is no pleasure in driving a sports car in bumper to bumper, peak hour traffic. Like you, the car itself seems to feel frustrated, like a race horse shackled to a wagon. So you now opt for the train instead, it gets you to work sooner anyway.

At the sound of the crossing bells, you jump out of the Uber and run for the station. Quickly that run becomes a walk as your cardio begins to fail you. When did you lose all of your fitness? As you approach the station, you begin fumbling with the contents of your pocket for the ticket, but come up short.

Cursing yourself for not being more organised, you join the ticket line. The dishevelled guy in front of you seems to be unsure of how money works, and is subsequently taking an exorbitant amount of time negotiating his purchase with the machine.

As the train turns the corner and begins its approach to the station, the guy in front of you starts hitting the machine rambling to no one in particular,

“These machines are horrible, back in my day we had real people to talk to. Why are we even using them? Are the ticket inspectors machines as well?”

Turing to you, he adds,

“You know what I mean right?”

You nod non-committedly, and quickly make your approach to the ticket machine, typing in your preference. Grabbing a crumpled note from your pocket you attempt to pay, however the machine has other plans. It acts like a toddler practicing its newfound gustatory skills. Like a tongue, your bill is pulled in and out five times before it is finally deemed acceptable.

The train is at the station now and the passengers have all disembarked. In an instant of detachment, you realise that this moment will be the only true point of excitement that your day will contain. Will you make the train or have to wait for the next one?

The machine finally pokes another tongue out at you in the form of your ticket. You hastily grab it and head towards the train. The doors are beeping, singling to you that your time is about to abruptly run out.


As the train slowly pulls away, you attempt to pull the door open. You know that it is a losing battle, but you keep trying anyway. The conductor is clearly apathetic.

You give up, glancing inside the train you notice that the dishevelled man smiling directly at you.  You can hear his cackling laughter even as the train pulls away.

At least you are paid well.

Wiping the sweat from your brow, you curse loudly at the train. The next train will get you to work on time, but you wanted to arrive early. You know that consistently doing so will show the higher ups that you are promotion material.

At this stage it is not the money that motivates you, it is the power, not that you would say no to more money of course. But rather than just working on the Smith account, you want to be one of the people working with Smith, one of the people making the account, directing people like you around. Telling them what to do, how to do it, and when to have it done by.

Besides, you could really get used to a larger office, complete with personal toilet and secretary. Imagine how productive you could be if you didn’t have to photocopy papers yourself, or travel 50 meters to use the toilet? You can just picture your name being stamped onto that gold name plate. You can almost feel the slightly raised black letters protruding from its surface …

“Beep, Beep, Beep.”

This shot story is part of 'Wage Slave'

Out Now: eBook, Paperback & Audible