Break the Routine or Break Yourself

Andria Kennedy
5 min readDec 8, 2021
Broken Lego Body
Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

My phone buzzed for the sixth time, and I felt my palms start sweating. I glanced down at the accusing green light of the message indicator, the gradually-fading icon knotting my stomach. My fingers shook on my keyboard, and I deleted a mistyped word.

The phone buzzed twice in rapid succession, and my jaw clenched.

You’re not supposed to do that, remember? You have TMJ.

I hated that sweet voice of reason; she popped up when I least wanted to hear from her. I eased the pressure on my back teeth, visualizing the trauma of my root canal (and the attached bill). Forcing my attention to the screen in front of me, I reread the half-formed sentence and tried to regain my train of thought. The stack of charts with notes that still needed typing rivaled my monitor in height, and my official clock-out time was an hour in the rearview mirror.

The phone buzzed again.

I pushed my head into my hands. Just turn the phone off.

I COULD turn off the phone, pretend the buzzing didn’t exist, but it would only delay the inevitable. That many messages meant one thing: tonight, someone wanted a shift covered. So regardless of when I deigned to acknowledge the phone’s presence, a response would be required.

I looked at the stack of charts. Every night this week had featured a similar giant pile, my timecard flashing an angry red to denote my move into overtime. It didn’t help that another set of buzzing messages attacked the week before, landing me an extra evening shift. ­­­ ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­And the overnight shift you agreed to.­ I wondered if there was a way to shut her up.

Two buzzes.

Guilt swam through my thoughts as I flipped open the next chart in the stack. A dull sense prodded me to pick up the phone and agree to whatever shift was on offer. I knew no one else was going to (obviously, or the buzzing would stop). I always picked up the last-minute shifts. After all, I didn’t have an exciting social life clamoring for my attention.

How can you when you work all the time?

I hated it when she was right. Overtime kept me from two kickboxing classes, and I was on track for the third. The…

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Andria Kennedy

Freelance science writer, meanderer of thoughts, and complete animal nut. A tiny demon governs my life (she may be a flerken — we’re still running tests).