What he had never learnt, understood, was that being ordinary, getting by or coasting along, just was not going to be enough. This was not the seventies. This was no longer the era of the working classes. Even those who still claimed to be of working class stock, had embraced the ethos of mixing with and shopping like the middle classes. But he did not get it.
Being a manager use to be something. He had been a manager once. Not a very good one, but one nonetheless. It had not worked out so well, so he went back to being an assistant manager.
The move out of retail had come soon after that. Try something else; be happy. The money will come. Haha. He moved sideways. Not retail but still customer service, still mediocre. Waiting. Something will come up. Something must come up.
He did not starve. Neither a pauper or a rich man. Just constantly in limbo, below the middle. Twenties pass. Thirties pass. People die, leaving a mark; or not. Would he leave a mark? He did not think think so. Twenty plus years below the middle was too much. Embarrassing. No one asked what do you want to do. They asked what you were doing. Everybody is doing something. He could not still be looking, could he? For goodness sake! There were people his age who were thinking about retirement! In fact, some had already.
There had been such promise. Not much granted. He had been shocking at sport and fair to middling academically, but there had been a flicker; a kernel of hope. Hope that he might achieve beyond mere employment or avoidance of incarceration. Might prove better than his own doubts, his own limitations. That he might defeat the voices.
The doubters had long departed, forging lives of plenty elsewhere. The age of sport had passed and academia had become an irrelevance. The voices however remained. He could not escape them.
Logic fought to defy them, but as the years went by, the dark truths of their whispering kept coming. It was all in his head. Absolutely it was. Highlighting of life’s failings, reliving bad decisions, missed opportunities. All played and fought for supremacy, day after day, ever reminded that his life could have been so different if…