On February 27, 2023, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Eric Jones will wake to the sound of his alarm clock at precisely seven A.M., as he has for virtually each and every morning for the past ten years. But this morning will be slightly different. It will be Mr. Jones' birthday. Quite an important occasion, some might say.
Mr. Jones will rise slowly from his bed. He will be startled by the sudden alarm and groggy in what he feels was a much too early hour for anyone to be up. Mr. Jones has always been a night person. It had been more extreme in his younger days, when he had a habit of going entire nights without sleeping.
There had always been something more interesting to do all night than sleep. But on February 26, 2023, he will know he has to be responsible. He will have to get ready for work on time. Squinting at the sunlight, he will stumble down the hall and into the shower. He will wash, shave, and brush his teeth, as he does every morning.
He will look at himself for a few spare minutes in the mirror and remark to himself about how another year of his life has gone by.
One year. Such a long time for some people. Barely a blink in the long run.
He will dress himself. Red polo shirt. Khaki pants. A pair of reasonable shoes, reserved but not too dressy.
Mr. Jones will descend the stairs of his home. He will smell something pleasant coming from the kitchen.
As he reaches the bottom of the stairs, he will notice his wife, Madison Jones, standing over the stove. She will be cooking scrambled eggs and bacon, especially for her husband on his birthday. A special gesture for a special moment.
She will wish him a happy birthday and give him a kiss good morning. The two will then discuss their plans for the day as Mrs. Jones cooks. Mr. Jones will have to teach his late class that night. He will not return home until at least six P.M that evening. Mrs. Jones will be working at the beauty salon until at least five P.M. The two will be sad that they will be unable to spend more time together on Mr. Jones' birthday, but will realize that they have other responsibilities, and that their jobs are important.
Mr. Jones will sit down in the dining room. Mrs. Jones will bring him a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon. The two will eat breakfast together, for the first time in a while.
After finishing his eggs and glancing at the clock, Mr. Jones will determine that he needs to leave for the university. He will kiss his wife goodbye, grab his briefcase, and head out the door.
Outside the Jones' modest home, Mr. Jones' car will be parked. A 2018 Europa, in "Shamrock Green". Mr. Jones will see the car at a local dealership on August 30, 2019, and will like the color so much, he will have it special-ordered.
Mr. Jones will open the passenger-side door and set his briefcase on the seat, before crossing around the front of the car and climbing in the driver's side. He will start the car, pull out of the driveway, and drive towards the city.
Mr. Jones will not look out the window as he drives. He will have driven the same route for six years. There will be nothing new to see, he will think. Nothing to appreciate. Just the same old thing.
But you know as well as I do, nothing is ever the same old thing.
Mr. Jones will turn on the radio in his car. It will be tuned to a news program.
The hosts will be discussing some political figure who will have done some improper thing. A senator or president or something like that, sleeping with prostitutes or stealing diamonds or something of that nature. Mr. Jones will not be listening too closely. He will not quite understand why people in power sometimes do such foolish things. He will think to himself that it is their responsibility to be rational and honest.
One might argue that it is important, being the leader of a country.
Mr. Jones will continue driving, and the radio will continue playing.
Eventually, Mr. Jones will pull off the freeway and drive into the city. Mr. Jones will arrive at the university, park his car in the university lot, and enter a classroom to teach his nine o'clock introductory English class. He will lecture his few morning students about the symbolism in the works of Thoreau. He will ask his few morning students questions. His few morning students will stare back at him blankly.
Mr. Jones will wonder what the point is, of waking up far too early in the morning to lecture a pack of engineering majors who clearly couldn't care less about English. He will decide not to think about it. He will rationalize that it is his responsibility to teach them. It is important, in the long run.
After the introductory students leave, Mr. Jones will walk across campus to his office. He will catch up on a few papers that need grading. He will check his work email. One of the clubs on campus will be holding a benefit bingo night on March 4, 2023. He will wonder if his wife would like to go, and will write down the date.
A few students will come in to ask Mr. Jones questions. One student will want to know when the latest philosophy class essay will be due. Another student will have forgotten what chapter to read for the next day's 200-level English class. Mr. Jones will answer their questions patiently.
At the conclusion of his office hour, Mr. Jones will head back across campus and begin to teach the rest of his classes. Several different levels of English and philosophy. Very important things, Mr. Jones thinks.
Mr. Jones will lecture on English and philosophy. He will ask his students about English and philosophy. Most of his students will stare back at him blankly. The same old thing, Mr. Jones thinks.
Even though nothing is ever the same old thing.
After his final class ends at five P.M., Mr. Jones will back into his car and drive back onto the freeway, heading back to his home.
Mr. Jones' cell phone will start to ring inside his pocket. He will hesitate. He has always been told not to answer his phone while driving.
He will quickly fish the phone out of his pocket and glance at the screen. The call will be from Mrs. Jones.
He will tap the screen to answer. Mr. and Mrs. Jones will say hello to one another. Mrs. Jones will ask her husband how his day at work has been. Mr. Jones will tell her that it had been the same old thing.
Even though nothing is ever the same old thing.
Mr. Jones will ask his wife how her day at work has been. She will say it had been a slow and boring day. She will propose that when Mr. Jones gets home, the two of them should have a nice dinner somewhere, to celebrate Mr. Jones' birthday. Mr. Jones will say that he would enjoy that. Mrs. Jones will tell her husband she loves him, and Mr. Jones will respond in the same way. Mr. Jones will hang up the phone and put his eyes back on the road.
Suddenly, just as Mr. Eric Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana will be feeling a pleasant sensation of contentment, joy, and love for his wife, as he drives home from the university at which he teaches, a momentary hiccup will occur in quantum space, flicking Mr. Jones off the face of the universe like a drop wiped away by a cosmic windshield wiper, along with his wife, his species, his civilization, and his solar system of habitation.
A pity, really. So much will go unaccomplished.
The good always die young, they say.
We all do, in the long run.