The Blackberry is leading me on merry adventures, through twisting office passages, up barren stairwells, and through mazes of cubicles. I pass the Minions, pecking away at their computers, gossiping lightly or taking nourishment out of steaming styrofoam cartons of gruel.
My disguise is nearly complete. I have managed to find a black cashmere trench coat from Holt Renfrew at a local Salvation Army for $14.99. Now I can walk confidently; one of them. As I approach the secretaries, a look of uncertain fear can be seen in their eyes, an expectation of an important meeting they had no knowledge of. Relief floods them when reveal I am only there to attend to their printer. They can relax. I am not important after all. But I look the part. As someone who was once mistaken for a homeless person by homeless people, I am now mistaken for an executive. Fluidity, adaptation. Be the role.
I am free.
Free to move around without attracting attention, silently walking among what can only be described as chaos built on unfathomable layers of human folly.
I plunge into the passages of the underground, walking between towers. Crowds of tunnel dwellers move nimbly through the brightly lit, marble labyrinth or sit, eating slop ladled out by smiling uniformed attendants from colourful establishments.
Christmas shoppers struggle with their bags of wrapped trinkets, chatting lightly in anticipation of material elevation. Stern businessmen stand in groups facing each other, contemplating abstract numbers with grim consternation. Enormous flashing televisions bark an endless stream of nonsense from the walls thrumming out a deep baritone over the constant staccato of insect chatter.
As one tower underbelly transitions into another, a brief respite from idle luxury materializes in the form of a subway entrance. The floor is covered in streaks of grime and puddles of melted, salty snow that has slid from high, fashionable boots. Bearded men wearing strange hats and necklaces play guitars while briskly walking people offhandedly toss change into the empty cases without stopping to listen. Silver airtight doors are constantly nudged open as the unceasing mass sweeps through to the bowels of yet another tower, identical apart from a new shade of marble.
I am ushered along, in amidst the flow. There is no need to navigate, every time I try, I find myself alone in a dead end or cul-de-sac where well dressed people sit on benches enjoying a brief rest from the swarming, endless line of walkers.
I am carried along to my destination, keys cards flash out to unlock the elevator, and doors. I nod to the secretary, and enter a huge room of cubicles. Strange green shoots grow from pots on ledges. I can’t identify the species. Curious, I stop, reach out and touch one. Fake. Plastic, wiped down occasionally by uniformed late night cleaners to remove the dust that would shatter the illusion. What can grow under this harsh, unnatural fluorescent lighting?
Rows of them, tapping at their keyboards, secured in their cubicles adorned with teddy bears and photographs. I pass, some lift their heads, most are too involved. In the kitchen I find my printer and set to work.
The Blackberry gives a buzz, and I turn onward to another destination. Another walk through the tunnels, more doors to beep open with my card. Another office.
I am in awe today.
I am a stranger here.
I have returned only to continue to travel.