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Detroit City Limits | What's Going on in Detroit

30Jan

The Origin of the Screwdriver and the Meaning of Existence

Our story starts in what used to be a beloved classroom, though not by far where it takes place. This is the future, a place where debate and education are so highly valued that special operation teams frequently get deployed to old buildings to learn about the life before. Just when they thought they had a fine grasp on history, though, a certain raid brought on something unexpected. This leads us to the Conference Table, where we see our story play out.
    The Thought Representatives all took their places, the object of discussion placed ceremoniously at the center of the table so all could see. An emerald green handle absorbed the light in the room, morphing halfway up into a sturdy yet rusting metal. The question that called them together: what place did a screwdriver have in the cluttered desk drawer of a high school teacher?
    “I think it’s the patriarchy,” Simone declared.
    “You think everything is the patriarchy,” Carl shrugged off, “probably because you fear a man’s world. Tell me, how did your parents treat you in your early childhood?”
    “Let’s look this over, shall we?” William started, ignoring his peer’s remark and getting up from his seat for a better look. “It’s a plastic handle,” he observed, “but the main point is some sort of old metal. It has a sort of ‘X’ engraved at the tip.”
    “Of course it does,” Andy droned, “it’s a screwdriver. We know that much.”
    William huffed, glaring at the speaker. “Well I don’t see you contributing any novel ideas.”
    “Easy,” Andy figured. “It’s nothing.”
    “Boys, boys, calm down,” Sam scolded, stepping in to settle the dispute. “The thing itself doesn’t matter.” Andy stuck his tongue out childishly across the room to the aggravated structuralist. “What matters is the person who put it there.”
    “Maybe the owner of the classroom just needed to fix something and forgot to take it home afterwards,” Rene rationalized.
    “Maybe the owner just wanted to feel more in touch with everything around.” Kat gave a serene smile, Andy glaring at her.
    “Shut up, Kat,” he shot down. 
    “I feel like we’re missing something,” Carl piped up.
    “What we’re missing is the moral purpose,” Alice tried. “Maybe it just made the teacher happy to have a screwdriver.”
    “Finally, we’re making some sort of sense here!” Cyrus laughed, giving an appreciative thumbs-up across the table.
    “What we’re missing,” Fredrick emphasized, “is its owner’s self-purpose. She must have had the freedom to keep a screwdriver in her desk drawer because that is the purpose she gave her life, it’s as simple as that.”
    “Why would one give her life the sole purpose of keeping a screwdriver?” Rene argued, causing Fredrick to roll his eyes.
    “I didn’t say that was her only purpose, though if she wanted it to be that’s what it would be.”
    “There is no purpose,” Andy drawled. 
    “There is if you give one,” Fredrick snapped.
    “It’s the patriarchy!”
    “Simone, be quiet, the structure of a screwdriver has nothing to do with a society dominated by men.”
    “There need be no dominance in a harmonic world,” Kat mused, everyone once again ignoring her.
    The group broke out into a full-blown argument disputing over the strange origin of such an out-of-place object until Carl finally stood, fed up with all the arguing. “Sometimes,” his voice cut above all the rest, silencing the group, “a screwdriver is just a screwdriver.”
Dedicated to Mrs. Rakozy, a high school teacher who had a green screwdriver in the bottom of a cluttered desk drawer without the slightest clue of its origin.

​~Victoria Heitzman

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