Breathing in that thick smell of the construction yard, you realise you had made it. Gotten yourself a job in an industry doing manual labour and you would have no more office chairs to sit on, or office desks to sit at and blankly stare your eyes away into a computer screen. Nor did you have to resort to retail or some job where you would have to deal with customers on a daily basis.
Even though the smells were of dust from various things used on site which probably weren’t going to do your lungs any good, they felt good. Having the feeling of something physically hard work and a “proper job”. While you knew the job would probably eventually cause you some physical damage, you weren’t that bothered, after all any kind of job seemed to damage people. And of course the job required the strictest of PPE with an orange polo shirt with hi vis stripes stitched into, and the company logo cheaply printed on the back. Along with a comfortable pair of tracksuit bottoms, although in an orange colour just the same. And of course with various hi vis stripes stitched into them.
The job also required some big thick boots to keep your feet dry and protected. And there was no longer an expectation to keep clean clothes daily. Working long hours on the site, no matter what, was going to stain the clothes beyond washable. It wouldn’t bother the other workers much anyway, most of them being unusual to say the least. Living in one of the few cities to have those animal-kind walking around. Kind of furries, without the fursuit. They started popping up all over the place, and obviously some of them were very well suited for labour intensive work. It did make you even more lucky to get the job, even if you were a little out of place.
You made it through the first day. And then your first week. It was going surprisingly well, and you were keeping up well enough with the other labourers for some of them to even comment on how well you were doing. You felt tired, but put it down to simply getting used to a different type of work and sure enough you would get used to it in no time at all.
Most of the building, whatever it was you were building, needed coating in various paints after the bricks had been laid. You were sure you heard some of the supervisors saying it was some kind of gym for the animals. It was a large building in any case. Friday was the delivery day usually for the paints. Coming in large barrels with various labels on them. And every time you were called over to help with offloading and putting them in whatever sorting order the foreman told you to.
This Friday was especially warm and you were dripping from moving all of the barrels. It was getting to the point in the day where the office people went home. They finished really early on a Friday for some reason and just left us to do our jobs. You began to stink again from the amount of sweat you were offloading into your clothes. So much so that you heard your usual nickname, “oi skunk, get over here”. It was one of the large bulls, Jake, you’d got quite friendly with.
They had a skip with a board attached. Kind of like a makeshift diving board. The skip was full of a liquid of some sorts on top of what seemed like a pile of old mattresses. “You’re up mate” he called. Suggesting you were to dive into the skip like you’d seen the others do a few weeks ago.
Climbing up onto the loose board you heard the jeering, “next for his dive, skunk the human. When you’re ready lad”. You looked down. What’s the worst that could happen? You jumped without really caring and landed in the liquid. It wasn’t water. It was thick and viscous and black. Trying to climb out covered in whatever, you see paintbrushes around you with white paint.
One of them pulled at your nose and up your muzzle. Wait, muzzle? And up down your back. Painting it with a white stripe. Something felt kinda good actually. Something like pulling out what was deep inside of you.
Managing to roll out of the skip, you look up at the bull, this time not as short as you remember and exclaim, “the fuck did you do?”
“You’re a skunk right?” He laughed. You look down at yourself. Pulling out your phone you open the camera and open the front facing camera to see a skunk staring you back.
You wink at the camera before taking a photo. Something clicked in your mind. You fit in now. Of course you were a skunk, you always smelt like one at least and now he got the part.