(Archival, meaning salvaged from a previous blog of mine)
What if there was a button hidden down by the docks of a city, perhaps London, which if pressed at exactly between 4:51pm and 4:52pm each day would produce $100. Once it produces its first $100, it has to be pressed every day or else it will stop working forever.
Imagine someone activates this button and, by trying to recreate the conditions of payment, figures all this out and assumes the last condition (maybe because of something they read in the library).
This becomes the person's 'job', where they make their way to the button every day and press it in a way discrete enough that nobody figures out what she's doing. Maybe all the other jobs she finds require her to be there until 5, maybe this becomes a farce or commentary on the rigidity on labour when a lot of the jobs with this requirement have no obvious reason to have a schedule that includes 5pm other than the workday tradition (Transcriber comes to mind).
So the button becomes the job.
At first this seems fantastic. It's almost $3000 per month for doing no useful work. Sure it's a bit of a commute from where she lives, and close to rush hour too, but who cares?!
Then it hits. Every day. Every day she has to be there at the button regardless of weather and traffic and crowding on the underground. She decides to move closer into town to get to the button faster each day. Even then it takes almost two hours each day to get there and back and back to whatever she was doing. It's also expensive to live in town, which is eating into her button payments.
It's harder to see her friends now that she's moved into the city. She's having a hard time meeting new people because she doesn't have a job to go to where she has to interact with people. It's hard to go out and meet new people even though she' an interesting person because she's afraid of being asked what she does for a living.
This isn't what she went to college for, and she's starting to feel a personal decay from her lack of self-actualization. She gets accustomed to drifting in neutral gear and it's eating away at her. It makes London, which has more to offer than almost any other city on earth to her, feel mundane and pointless. She needs a vacation, a vacation from doing nothing.
But she can't. The button must be pressed every day.
Does she trust someone else in on her secret, to 'buttonsit' while she's away? Would she have to pay someone to do what she's been doing for free for months?
Then the story is left unresolved because that's how reality works. We get stuck just like this and the narrator has no right nor ability to tell you how get out of your own ruts.
The title of the story would be "Nine to Five".