The long hallway stretched the distance of the old hospital. She was walking toward me as I walked toward her. I flashed an amicable smile in her direction.
“Hello,” I said.
She walked by with quiet conceitedness, her eyes like daggers. I suppose that if I was not a janitor, she may have exchanged pleasantries. Sanitation was a job I was born into and, being a D-Class job, it was utterly difficult to escape. With that being said, trash and janitorial employment categories would ultimately prevail.
In 2113, it was evident that space for rubbish was becoming a worldwide environmental issue. Following a U.N. meeting on that particular problem, pay rates for those of us in the business of waste disposal increased significantly. My salary went from 25,000 North American Credits, or NACS, to 75,000 in the span of a year. Currency had been organized by continents after a big push for global currency in 2082.
Nevertheless, any job within waste disposal or sanitation was viewed as a dirty occupation. Even with the pay increase, I remained a D-Class worker with a B-Class salary.
A D-Class worker could ostensibly only marry or date another D-Class citizen — though it was not official or set in stone. While there were no laws against inter-class relationships, it was looked down on most occasions and when it did happen, it was a higher class man with a lower class woman. One could relate it to women of the 21st Century being attracted to older men, especially those with status and wealth.
I was not surprised when the nurse, a B-Class position, glared at me contemptuously in my attempt at kindness. Lower class workers did not necessarily have to acknowledge those of higher standing, though I have seen citizens — close friends — dismissed from employment for failing to do so. I am naturally flirtatious, thus I’m confident I would never get terminated for not speaking up.
The job class disparity was never as clear as it was in that brief passing with the nurse. The brevity of the event left me with a surprising number of emotions all at once. I wanted to tell her that I am a human being and that she could at least address me in passing. The only problem with my argument would have been that I am not just a human being; I am productivity, a statistic, a phantasmal numeral in the despotic society I live in.
By chance, I was walking down the same hallway some months later and saw the nurse as if the shroud of déjà vu had enveloped me. There was something different about her the second time that I could not make out until she was within approximately 20 yards. Her face was grotesquely flawed, as though the skin on her face had been removed and replaced improperly. I looked directly ahead, not wanting to look at her.
“Hello,” she said. I could not tell if she was smiling or not.
Her kindness invoked a certain bitterness within me. I deduct that, because of her face, no one would look at her in the way that she was accustomed. Deep down, she knew I was a compassionate person and assumed that I would reply to her greeting regardless of her condition. I truly felt sorry for the once-beautiful caregiver, but not enough to forget her once-cold heart.