Such is the life

Mike Jenson gets up at 6am, bright and early. He showers, shaves, dresses, and sits down with a pot of coffee at his desk. He doesn’t need to be at work for another twenty minutes, so he opens up his laptop and idles away the time on Facebook, checking up on old schoolfriends. Robert Allain is engaged, Katie Ellis has been promoted to manager of her bank, and old Craig Edwards, who you remember fighting with aged 7 about who got to be the doctor and who got to be the patient, has now been nominated for the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Andy offers his sincerest congratulations in the form of a “like”, before realising that he has to get going – it’s gone 7 already.

At 7:45 Mike gets to work and wastes no time in changing into his outfit; black t-shirt, simple jeans, nondescript shoes. All designed to blend into the background. He heads into the cave, where a few tourists are already being let in; he’s a little late. They were looking surly and confused, but a face of relief washes over them when they see him enter. They quickly turn their attention away from him, and a large bearded man among them booms:

“Right then, this is the first…”

“Right then, this is the first…”

The bearded man looks around at Mike and gives him an odd look. Clearly a first-timer, Mike thinks. He smiles genially at the man and beckons him to continue. He nods warily in Mike’s direction before doing so.

“…the first ever artificial cave? Strange, isn’t it?”

“…the first ever artificial cave? Strange, isn’t it?”

Mike performs a spot-on impression of the man, at the last second deciding to muffle the sibilant sounds slightly as he imagines the beard would do for him. It does, and Mike is so pleased with his foresight that he almost forgets to keep his voice volume at precisely 50% of the man’s. A woman at the back of the gaggle pipes up.

“It’s so detailed, Greg! It must have taken years to make!”

“It’s so detailed, Greg! It must have taken years to make!”

Mike repeats the words of the shrill-toned woman, right down to the elongated “ye-e-e-ars”. Easy. Mike wants to tell them that it took exactly six years and four months to build the fake cavern in which they all currently stand, but he knows that’s not part of his job. He’s not supposed to interact with customers in any circumstances, bar one.

By coincidence, that one circumstance occurs at the precise moment, where a small child holding the hand of the woman he just mimicked points a scrawny finger right at him.

“Who’s he? Why is he copying you- why is he copying me?!”

“Who’s he? Why is he copying you- why is he copying me?!”

“Don’t worry about it, Ken, darling.”

“Don’t worry about it, Ken, darling.”

“It’s scaring me, Mum. Why’s he doing that?”

“It’s scaring me, Mum. Why’s he…”

Mike considers continuing, to freak the kid out further, but decides against it, instead opting to walk up and introduce himself.

“Hello, my name is Michael Jenson, and I am a Chief Reverborator here at the Nidox Cave.”

The kid eyes Mike suspiciously, before saying “What does that mean?”

Out of instinct, Mike says “What-”  before realising what he’s doing. He checks himself and says “Well, because Nidox is an artificial cave, it doesn’t have some qualities that regular caves do. The people in charge have done their best to compensate for some of these, and since it’s hard to create an echo that soiunds just right, they found it much easier to employ me instead.” He gives a friendly smile, as if everything he just said was not totally insane.

The bearded man steps forward and asks, “So this is your job? Every day?”

“Every day the cave is open, I’m here. You get used to it, don’t worry.”

And they always do. As the group move off to other parts of the cave, staffed by other Echoes,  and new tourists come in, Mike gets back to work.

“Look at it, it’s beautiful!”

“Look at it, it’s beautiful!

“See the way the light shines off that bit there?”

“See the way the light shines off that bit there?”

“A marvel of modern engineering and art.”

“A marvel of modern engineering and art.”

“Bet you’re glad you came now, eh Marge?”

“Bet you’re glad you came now, eh Marge?”

“Dad, I’m hungry!”

“Dad, I’m hungry!”

“What does Nidox even mean?”

“What does Nidox even mean?”

“Where’s the toilets?”

“Where’s the toilets?”

“I can’t believe they finally finished it.”

“I can’t believe they finally finished it.”

“Did you hear that the creator of this thing won a prize? Ridiculous.”

“Did you hear that the creator of this thing won a prize? Ridiculous.”

…and so on. Such is the life of a Professional Echo.

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3 thoughts on “Such is the life

    • Well, it comes from the title of my blog, but when I came up with that title I didn’t know what it actually meant; it was just two words that sounded good together. So for a few months I’ve been entertaining the idea of what it could mean, but it didn’t really come to anything until I sat down last week and wrote this. Glad you enjoyed it!

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