In a surprising and happy twist, Big K--you remember, the guy I was talking about the other day who worked the honey wagon--has asked to be reassigned. To me. As my assistant.
Look, I don't think I rate an assistant these days. Sure, back when I was helping manage New Haven I had a bunch of them, but now I'm just working at my own speed. What I do is important for posterity, but I don't know that it's worth pulling another able body away from the community to do it.
Will agrees with me, but on this one the council outvoted him. That's pretty rare. Will is thinking in terms of defense and strength, as well as the fact that once one person gets a cushy reassignment, others may want to do the same. The council's position is that my work is potentially life-saving in the long run. They want the survival manual worked on, as well as the rest of what I do with record-keeping and collation. The manual is the bit they're keen on; they want me to expand it as much as humanly possible to cover every angle I can imagine.
Well, every angle we can imagine, now. K starts with me today and he should be here around nine. He came over yesterday evening to ask my thoughts on this before the council made their decision. He was willing to accept my saying no, though I'm sure he knew there wasn't much chance of that. K is a funny guy, and I don't mean that in the humorous way, though he jokes as much as anyone.
There's something sad about him. All of us carry scars--it would be impossible not to considering all we've gone through--but K acts like it all just happened a few days ago. I don't know much about him, to be honest, but it's not a stretch to assume he lost people. There's always a distance in his eyes, as if he's remembering the horrors he lived through. It's nonstop. I can't imagine how bad it must have been to continue haunting him for so long.
I've met people who deal with bouts of depression, most often when I look in the mirror every morning, and this doesn't strike me as being the same. Big K gets along like everyone else, but every time I talk to him I can see it in his body language, in the spaces between words; he has lost hope. What other people sometimes feel, the tragic loss of all that was, he seems to know on a deep level. He sees the world as it is and can't allow the possibilities for the future outweigh the tragedies of the past.
I've been there, but during my time with him yesterday I watched him. This isn't a fluctuation in mood brought on by a chemical imbalance. It's ingrained in him, shaped to him. A habit so deeply embedded that the rest of his personality is molded to fit. He's a man who continues on even though (I believe) he feels no hope.
Aside from the fact that I'm glad for the help, that's the reason I took him on. I'm fascinated by the guy, and I think I might be able to help him see some bright edges. When I was at my worst, there were people who held me up and stood by my side as I worked through my own darkness. I might fail, be rejected, be hated. But I have to try. The world is a sad place, it's true, but there is hope and beauty and life.
Faced with the zombie threat, the UAS and their sudden move toward innocent communities, and all the other trials the world sees fit to put us through, it's more important than ever to remember those good things. I can't help but remind people like Big K that they exist.