Friday, April 27, 2012

A DAY AT THE OFFICE

This story is not particularly good. But it isn't terrible, either. It's somewhere in-between. BUT FIRST, a question to which I probably already know the answer.

I'm over halfway finished editing the second draft of mindtrip. Once I finish, I am contemplating printing three readers' copies for proofing purposes. Anyone interested in a giveaway for a free copy of my newest, most favorite book I've ever written? Because I'm thinking of making a contest. I KNOW! This blog is a desolate wasteland, and you accidentally stumbled upon this entry, and why in the world would you want to read an entire book written by the same person who wrote the story below?

But I have to ask.

Comment below if you're interested. Maybe in a couple of years, we'll all look back and reread this entry with a real sense of sorrow, like, there will be zero comments and no new entries and also I died in a fire. But who cares, because it's Friday, and it's beautiful outside! NOW: my story.

I actually remember writing this - I was 23, 24. Back when cussing was totally rad. I actually still work with William, except at an entirely different office that is two hundred miles from where we were. Back then, part of my job description was technical support. But two thirds of the time, customers would sometimes call to complain about things that I couldn't actually do, like cancel their magazine subscriptions. I actually started to dread the ringing phone. Was this really a typical day for us seven years ago?  Of course it was.



Another Day at the Office

If a man’s life is a carrot, then fear is the grater that rips and shreds his very existence to orange flecks in the salad of destiny. As the telephone rings and clangs into my ear, I understand the nature of fear and marvel at its capacity to keep me from getting even a bit of work done.

The hateful woman that I am avoiding is named Tina, and she is the most wretched person in the existence of the universe. She has called three times in the past week, each time complaining that she has been unable to reach me for a month because my line is always busy. I have not reminded her of our very recent communiqu├ęs, but that is only because I have other fish to fry. Some people use their words to coax and cajole, some to sooth and please, and others use them as battering rams designed to smash in the fucking face of the guy on the other line. Tina is the master of aggression, and I am weary of parrying her clumsy smashes and thrusts.

Tuesday, for instance. I’d been pouring myself a glass of scotch when the phone rang. I was hoping that it was Pizza Hut - our pizza had been fifteen minutes late at the time, and my coworker William and I were getting hungry - but, to my dismay, it was Tina again.

"HEL-LO!?" Tina shouted at me over the thin copper line. "I GOT THIS THING YOU SENT ME, BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO WITH IT!" I’d still not learned to recognize the harsh dissonance of Tina’s shrieky voice, and I pleasantly asked what thing she’d received in the mail. "YOUR PROGRAM, WHAT THE HELL ELSE WOULD I BE TALKING ABOUT!?" Tina yelled, and sensing blood, she started tearing at the proverbial neck of the lamb. "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS!? DO NONE OF YOU KNOW HOW TO USE THIS THING!? CAN YOU CONNECT ME TO SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS SOME SHIT!?"

I cannot connect her to anyone who knows some shit, and so now I am pretending the telephone is merely a device designed to keep me awake throughout the day. "William," I begin, but William already knows what I’m going to say. He passes me the scotch silently. William would be the best bartender if only he had a bottle of good olives and some vermouth hidden away in his desk, but he only has a modest array of hard liquors, two bottles of soda water, and a jar of pickled onions, so he’ll have to settle for Decent Bartender of the Month.

The phone rings again, once, and then falls silent, only to blare again thirty seconds later. William leans over his notebook; his lips move silently as he composes another verse of his latest rap opus:

Bitches fall on they kneez lickety split    
Honkey ass motherfuckers always ridin’ my shit
 
"Pretty good," I allow, "but ‘bitches’ is so misogynist, don’t you think? Maybe you should use ‘skanks’ or ‘hoes’ - those terms are a little more empowering."

William smirks, but I can see that he’s mentally rewriting the line, optimizing the verse by decoding inflections, syllables, and beat into a near-organic line of noise and then re-encoding it with even fresher dips and beats. Even a single change of a syllable can mean an hour’s work for William, who is to rap what Edison was to hard science. He is a motherfucking perfectionist, and it shows in each of his phat beats.

We are gentlemen in the prime of our lives, in our glory years, and the only thing keeping us back is this hateful buzzing telephone. Just for kicks, I pick up the phone, clamping my nose with my thumb and index finger to give a nasal quality.

"Hello, thank you for choosing AT&T," I speak in a monotone. "Please hang up or try your call again." Then, both of us unsuccessfully stifling our laughter, I hang the fuck up. It sits there silently for a few seconds as if unable to believe our audacity and then rings again, over and over.

Without a word, William turns the set over, unplugs the telephone cable, and slides the whole telephone unit into his desk. He then locks the desk carefully, puts the key in his front pocket, and leans back over his notebook. "Problem solved," he says, his only words to me this entire afternoon.

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. YAY!!! :-) I'll totally send you a copy once it's finished. Which, if everything goes as planned, should be the end of June. I really like it. Which probably means no one else will!

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