There are seven billion people in the world. Seven billion! And yet, every working day for the past five years, I've sat opposite Benson.
‘Morning earthling!’ says Benson peering out from the side of his computer monitor. He has greeted me like this for the past three years.
‘Benson!’ I say with a nod. There’s a slight pause as the word filters into his brain as he stares up at the ceiling with one eye partially closed and his mouth ajar, motionless with a vacant smile on his stupid face. He turns to me, his face turning to mild shock as he realises I am soaked from the harsh rain outside. He’s back.
‘Been swimming have ya? Hmaha!’ his pupils look massive through his thick glasses, his greasy hair spread resourcefully across his balding head. This here, is a very unattractive man.
‘No, actually. You?’ I say placing my bag underneath my desk.
‘Me?’ he says rubbing his stomach, ‘does this look like the belly of a swimmer? hmaha!’
‘Not really.’ I say, turning on my computer and falling back into my chair. It doesn’t. It looks like the belly of a man who lucked into marriage; the belly of a man who lucked into marriage, then gave up trying—and has been belching, farting, over-eating and taking his wife for granted ever since.
Benson sits opposite me in the big open-plan office. He’s so plain and hollow it hurts. He’s the kind of guy that buys T-shirts with ‘ironic’ slogans on them like: ‘designated drunk’ and ‘marriage was her idea’. He wears trousers that bite his ankles and novelty ties such as the one he’s wearing today: rows of dancing penguins. He laughs after every sentence, funny or not: ‘Did you have a good weekend?’ I might ask, trying to be social. ‘Yeah, not bad. Shame about the weather, though. Hmmahahha’. His forced and pitiful laughter providing a gateway into a chasm of emptiness. He’s the kind of guy that mourns the death of celebrities as if they were family or close friends—pre-ordering the new greatest hits CD the day after the sad news. He's the kind of guy that struggles to differentiate a story with facts from everyday life; often leading to 'stories' about milk spillages in supermarkets, his car-boot struggling to open at the car-boot sale (such irony!) and his frequently forgetful wife: and as for her car keys, she was holding them! Can you believe it? Hmah. Of course I could.
Benson is a late adopter, a keen follower, a moth to the flame of the zeitgeist. At school, Benson would have bought his Yo-Yo just as the cool kids were moving onto Pokemon; the arrival of his first set of Pokemon cards signalling the end, too, of that particular craze. He was a wanker, and a married one at that. He wasn’t a bad person, unless being the epitome of mediocrity could be termed that way. Benson represented 90% of people in the office, and I pitied him. I pitied all Bensons.