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6:54 by Andrew Miller

I arrive at 6:55. I climb the stairwell to the main lobby, swipe my badge to access the elevators. I wait. I have earbuds in and keep my eyes dipped so that no one acknowledges me. I enter the elevator. I exit the elevator at my floor. I begin my work day in silence. I attempt to spend as much of my workday as possible in silence.

I arrive at 6:56. I climb the stairwell to the main lobby, swipe my badge to access the elevators. I wait. I have earbuds in and keep my eyes dipped. I say nothing to the hellos and good mornings around me. I enter the elevator. I exit the elevator on 39. I begin my work day in silence. I attempt to spend as much of my workday alone as possible.

I arrive at 6:47. I climb the stairwell to the main lobby, in front of me is a man wearing a jacket just like mine. He swipes his badge to access the elevators. I swipe my badge. He wears a smile on his face. I wear my earbuds and dip my eyes when he turns to see which elevator doors will open. He greets the other workers congregating for the elevator. I remain silent.

I arrive at 7:03. I walk briskly to swipe in. The man with my coat is behind me. I drop my badge and he retrieves it.

“Thank you,” I say.

His hair is cut the same as mine. He wears the same shoes and the same pants. His black sweater snug around his pinpoint collared shirt. He smiles and says, “You’re welcome.”

Around us are several people waiting on the elevators. The elevators are always so slow. I wonder what it takes to say hello. To say good morning. To begin my work day in this other way.

I arrive at 6:54. I climb the stairwell to the main lobby. The man who looks like me is already waiting for an elevator. I swipe my badge. I remove my earbuds. I do not dip my eyes. I breathe out. He smiles. I say, “Good morning.”

He turns his back to me and doesn’t say anything. I look away and catch my distorted reflection in the closing elevator doors.

 

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