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Motivation


Larry isn't hard on us, per se. He just wants us to unlock the majority of our latent potential. We rely on him to motivate us. We have a certain number of blocks to place every day, but we get better grub at the end of the day and better pay at the end of the week if we exceed expectations.

My job? I throw the water down in front of the rollers. It's important to get it just right though. Too much water and the rollers sink right into the sand. Too little and the blocks seem to weigh even more than they already do. But if just the right amount of water goes under the block, when Larry calls heave, the block springs forward. As it does, Jake and Torrance slide another roller under the front of the block.

The stone is a creamy white. In the sun, it can be pretty brutal to look at during the worst heat of mid-afternoon. But by sunset, when our sinews are worn to nothing and the cartilage starts to quiver as we push and pull our way up the ramp, and the orange bounces off the Nile and against the face of the rock. Well. That's just about worth it.

We're building this enormous thing, after all. And the guys all say that not even the desert itself could swallow it in ten thousand years. That seems like something pretty special, even if the guy going into it for eternity leaves a little to be desired. Don't get me wrong, I won't be trash talking Pharoah any time soon. But wow. To command 20 thousand guys just to build your grave takes some serious stones.

And brother, believe me when I say that I know from stones these days.

When I get home at the end of the day, at least, I still look forward to seeing Alexandra. She asks me how work went and I respond by putting the fresh bread on the table -- the bonus for exceeding our quota by two blocks. She smiles in a way that still makes me weak, you know? She's proud of me, and I've never been more excited to make someone proud.

We sit and eat the bread. She throws something else into a pot and we eat it just as it starts to really cool off. The nights this time of year are easier. And on evenings with a full moon, we sit outside and watch the reflection of the moon on the huge structure, now half-up.

I'll be long gone, I think, before the thing is actually finished. There will be more Larry's, more Torrances, more Jakes. They'll be more versions of me to put the right amount of water down on the ground so that teams of men can heave the stones.

Will the Larry's of the future resort to the lash the same way present-day Larry does? I hope not. I hope that he understands that, once in a while, we are motivated enough by the idea of being a part of something historic -- something in a world of temporaries that will last.