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9.13.02 - No Need To Read This!  Really!

You know in those spy movies, usually near the end, there's the scene when the spy realizes that everyone knows he's a spy?  Something has gone astray, he's been ratted out by someone, or some crucial and revealing bit of information has reached the evil organization he has infiltrated.  There's that tense moment, when he knows the game is up, when he knows that THEY know, and it's time for people to start shooting at him and time for things to start exploding and, basically, he knows it's time to RUN.

I kinda know how that feels, now.

I had a conversation today, see, with the woman who assigned me to the small archiving room I wrote about in yesterday's update, the update that involved napping.  (Oh, it also involved the possible theft of company property and possible masturbation on company property.)

It went a little something like this.  (For those of you playing at home, see if you can spot where the adrenalin kicked in!)

ME:  "Hi.  I'm all done with the archiving."

HER:  "Wow, that was fast!"

ME:  "Yeah.  Let me know if you need anything else."

HER:  "I will."

ME:  "Okay, then."

HER:  "This is great, thank you!"

ME:  "No problem."

HER:  "So, I understand you have a website!"

ME:  "Uh.  What?"

HER:  "I hear you have a website, and you wrote something about [NAME OF COMPANY I'M TEMPING FOR] on it?"

ME:  "Wh-wh-wh-whuh.  Wh-where did you uh, hear that?"

HER:  "Well..."

Here, she launched into an explanation of how she knew about my website, little of which I remember, because I was standing in her office, absolutely rigid with fear, thinking, over and over again "THEY KNOW.  THEY KNOW.  THEY KNOW ABOUT THE SITE."


This has never happened before.  For the two-and-a-half years I've had the site, and for the two-and-a-half years I've bad-mouthed the people I've worked for and with and among, the existence of the site has never, ever gotten out while I was working for the particular company I was writing about.  Ever.  For obvious reasons, I've been careful not to mention it to anyone.  At all.  The only people I've ever told, maybe two people total, I've told after I left the company in question.  And now, with one stinking day left at this job, suddenly, I am confronted with the fact that THEY KNOW.  THEY KNOW.

Shit.  I'm dead.

Apparently, this woman had been talking with someone at a temp agency, one I'd never heard of.  This temp agent has a temp who worked here at some point as well, who apparently knew of my site and of me, and told his or her agent, who then told this woman I was working for.  Or something.  The details are foggy, as I said, because my mind was racing.  Actually, it may have been the opposite.  I think I had brain-lock.  Everything shut down.  Nothing worked.  Couldn't think.  Couldn't breathe.  Could sweat, though.  

I definitely had mouth-lock, that's for sure.

ME:  "What, uh, what, uh, what, uh... what did they say?"

HER:  "Oh, that you'd written something irreverent about [NAME OF COMPANY]."

ME:  "Oh?"

HER:  "Yes, something about [she lists a few scattered details about this update.]


ME:  "Oh, uh, hm.  Hm.  I, uh.  Yeah.  I may have written a little something about [COMPANY].  Maybe.  Something... irreverent.  I don't recall, exactly.  I haven't written anything recently, really, or anything.  About stuff.  Heh."

HER:  "Oh, what's the address of your site?  Is it just your name at dot com or something?"

ME:  "Oh, uh, no.  No, it's not."

HER:  "Oh, then it's... what is... what is it at?"

ME:  "It's, uh... no.  Nope."

I leave.  I just leave her office.  Just walk out.  I can't tell her!  Not with the masturbation thing up there!  I mean, shit!  And the thing about stealing!  Agh!  Oh, this is just bad.  I feel like Tom Cruise in The Firm, when Wilford Brimley tries to take him away and kill him by feeding him oatmeal until his stomach bursts, or something like that.  I speed-walk back to my desk, trying to think this over.  Should I flee?  Should I just get my stuff and bolt?  Think!  Think!

Okay.  So.  She hasn't actually seen the site.  Someone has, but they didn't say anything except that it was irreverent and gave a couple of basically harmless details.  This woman seemed to think that was okay, like, maybe it was cute or fun or good-natured.  Pfft.  Meanwhile, I've written about how passive-aggressive my supervisors were, about how the office environment sucked, about how I hated the executives and how twisted the admins were, and, oh yeah, about STEALING AND MASTURBATING.  JUST YESTERDAY.  Shit.  SHIT!


I get to my desk to send out some frantic e-mails to my friends.  I try to log on to my terminal, and get this message:

"The administrator has locked out your account."

Uh.  Uh.  Uh.

No.  No!  NO.  I'm already fucked!  I'm dead!  Word has spread, and I'm being cornered.  Cut off.  Security will be here any second, to frisk me, search my bag, possibly my personal areas.  My work will be scrutinized, my agency called, my desk searched, and I'll be dragged off to some chamber, shoved into a metal folding chair, a bright light in my face, for interrogation.

"Where is this website?  What have you done?  Who have you told?  Did you bring home documents or information?  Did you name the company?  Who were you talking about?  Did you steal?  How much?  For how long?  Why?  For whom?  Where?  When?  And exactly WHAT DID YOU MASTURBATE ON?"

I'm sweating.  A nervous wreck.  The tendons in my neck are tightening.  I call the IS guy to ask why my account has been locked out.  He's not there.  I leave an innocent-sounding message, hang up, and try to think.

Okay, nothing too terrible on the site.  I mean, I didn't name the company.  Can't be sued.  All I did was rag on some (all) of the people I work for.  Awkward, embarrassing, mortifying, if they confront me about that.  But not fatal, although the masturbating comments are definitely embarrassing.  The comments about stealing could potentially hurt me, especially if they are forwarded to my temp agency.

The IS guy shows up and it turns out it was just some "glitch."  OR WAS IT?  I'm normally paranoid as hell anyway, but now I'm in some new, heightened state of extreme distrust, and I'm fairly certain the IS guy is an evil robot with mind-reading powers.  Hoo boy.  Damage control.  I have to relax.  Calm down.   Breathe.  Unwind.  Chill.  Cool it.  Masturbate.  NO!  NO, NO MORE OF THAT!

Well.  I have one day left at this job.  Friday.  I could take it all down.  I could do that.  Take the stuff off the site until I'm finished here.  Hm.  Seems wimpy.  Should ride it out.  See what happens.  Just remember, the more awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable the life, the better the website.  Right?  Just think of it that way.

I'll just ride it out.  Hopefully, I won't be directly asked about the site, or for its location.  Hopefully, no one will be too curious.  I can stall.  Avoid.  Lie.  Misdirect.  Evade.  Survive.  

And I definitely shouldn't mention anything about this on the site until Monday.




9.12.02 - *nap nap nap*

Well, as so often happens, mere days after I complain about some specific circumstance of my temp job, the sitch of which I bitch becomes exponentially worse.  In this case, I had been complaining about the lifeless, morbid, and completely muted office I work in.  Well, they moved me out of it.

Into a tiny file archive room.  It's small, crammed with boxes, and completely closed off from the rest of the office.  I'm the only one in there.  There's no computer.  No window.  No phone.  I wouldn't have thought this job could get any more silent and tedious, but it has.

Still!  I'm a guy who likes to make the best of things, so I'm gonna think positively and tr -- ha ha ha ha oh damn.  Thought I could get that out with a straight face.  No, I'm gonna be grouchy and surly and miserable, as usual.

Of course, whenever I am left in a tiny room for hours on end with no supervision, a few ideas of how to pass the time spring immediately to mind.

#1: Go home for most of the day
#2: Steal things, then go home
#3: Masturbate
#4: Nap

Going home isn't much of a solution, my home being just a slightly larger tiny room.  There's a few things to steal here, but nothing I really want (like I said, there's no computer).  So, napping seems like my best bet, as most of my other, um, urges have been stripped away by the morgue-like atmosphere of this office.  My only problem is, well, I'm a problematic napper.  I'm not like other people, who can stretch out on a couch or a hammock for a half-hour of pleasant Z's.  When I nap, it's a horribly traumatic event, sometimes lasting up to ten hours at a stretch.

A lot of this can be traced to the fact that, during the week, I only get about 4-6 hours of sleep per night, which is probably enough if you eat well and exercise regularly.  However, when I eat, it's not well, and when I exercise, it's not ever, so my naps are generally brutal assaults on my mind, body, and whatever surface I choose to snooze upon.

I'll just say it:  I drool.  A lot.  Not when I sleep, really, just when I nap.  I generally awaken face-down in a puddle of spit the size of a manhole cover, not that I really notice it, because I'm also usually sweating like crazy.  When I nap, my body temperature shoots up about 35 degrees from normal.  This output of saliva and sweat might be leaving me slightly dehydrated, which could be a leading factor in the main problem with my napping experience: when I wake up, I haven't the slightest idea where the hell I am or what the hell is going on.

I've had the phone stir me from naps many times, and when it does, it's like I've never heard such a thing before.  My reactions to the ringing phone have included groggily slapping at my alarm clock, fumbling for the television remote, closing a window, turning a light off, and once, stumbling into the kitchen and peering into the fridge.  And I'm simply baffled when these things don't make the phone stop ringing.

And man, it takes me forever to figure out what the hell I'm supposed to be doing.  Waking up from a nap at around 7:30 is the worst, because I'm never quite sure if it's 7:30am, or 7:30pm.  I stare at the clock, thinking "Is it morning or night?  If it's morning, that means I probably wasn't napping, I was sleeping, and that means it's time to go to work... but I'm in my clothes, so it's probably 7:30pm and I've been napping... let's see, it's sorta darkish outside, but that could be dawn or dusk... is it Saturday?  Do I even have a job this week?  If so, where is it?  And when do I need to be there?  And -- Christ, that's a lot of drool -- do I have clean clothes?  And for the love of God, why won't the fridge stop ringing?"

So, you can see how trying to take a nap in this little room at work might be a bad idea.  If my supervisor pops her head in to see how I'm doing, the sight of a drooling, sweaty temp flailing around the archive room might lead her to believe I wasn't working diligently.  She might even think I had been, you know.  #3.


9.10.02 - Office Pace

Let's talk about my temp job.  Why not?

As far as temp jobs go, this one isn't so bad, apart from the fact that it's slowly sucking the life from me, leaving nothing but a small, scrawny, balding husk where once stood a man.  A small, scrawny, balding man, but a man nonetheless.

I'm sure I mentioned this already, but I'm too lazy to go back and check:  this office is completely lifeless.  The floor I'm on, which houses the executives and their administrative assistants, is dark, dull, drab, and almost completely silent.  No one talks, and when they do, it's in a whisper.  That's not an exaggeration.  The admins whisper to one another.  It's freakish and depressing.

I normally prefer the quiet offices to the noisy ones, but this is getting ridiculous.  What's worse, it's rubbing off on me, because anytime there is a noise, it's incredibly bothersome.  It could be someone clicking a pen, it could be a squeaky keyboard tray, or even a printer warming up, but it's unbearable.  And when there is no sound at all, I find myself forgetting there are other people around, and I start humming, or even singing, or, most commonly, making little sound effects when I click my mouse on things.  Little explosion sounds, generally.  *Pschhh!*  *Rrrshhct!*  *Ksshhh!*  Then I come to my senses and remember there are three other people sitting within ten feet of me, and I clam up.

I've worked in executive offices before, even with doctors before (most of the executives on my floor are doctors) and I've never seen such a division between the suits and the admins.  The execs never speak to us unless necessary, or even look at us.  In fact:

There was a crowd of executives on my floor the other day, gathering for a meeting outside one of the conference rooms.  I happened to be strolling by on my way back from a 91 minute cigarette break, and I passed through the thick of them.  As I did, a few more arrived in the clot of pinstripes, one of them a female, and she greeted the others with bright smiles.  Just as I passed, she looked at me, and smiled, and then, seeing I was not wearing a suit that cost more than Australia's GNP, she tried to take the smile back.  

It was so... so... so high school.  Y'know?

She was all white teeth and bright eyes and friendliness, at me, for an instant, and then she sort of froze, and twitched, and closed her mouth and looked away.  It was horribly awkward.  For her, not for me.  I was simply appalled, although I actually felt sorry for her for a moment.  There she was, probably earning six figures, and ew, she had smiled at an employee.  A temporary employee, no less.  She probably had to go and bathe soon afterwards, possibly with the help of three servants instead of the usual two.

I feel bad for the other admins as well, since their primary responsibilities seem to entail making sure the executives have enough to eat during their daily, day-long meetings.  Their office drawers are jam-packed with menus, and I've overheard half-hour telephone conversations with caterers and restaurants.  And that's just for their bosses.  Visiting execs can't survive more than a two minute wait without needing coffee, soft drinks, or bottled water, lest they wither and die, so the admins are constantly scurrying about fetching them drinks.  The hell with that.  I may not be much of an office worker when you get right down to it, but I'm not a fucking waiter, either.  I always take great pains to avoid serving food and beverages to people at work.  Well, not great pains.  One fellow, early for a meeting, asked if I could get him some water, and I told him I would.  Then I simply went to lunch.

Did I hear sirens and spot ambulances rushing toward the building as I headed to Wendy's?  Paramedics flocking in to pump this poor, rich, dangerously dehydrated man full of fluids?

No, but then again, I had my walkman on.


9.9.02 - Cat Scratch Fever

So, I'm in Berkeley.

Berkeley, home to the homeless, and I'm walking past one of them now.  He's sitting against a building, next to his plastic cup, asking for spare change, and my hand is in my pocket, fingering the dollar bill I'd had ready for the bus, had the bus ever arrived, which it hadn't, which is why I'm walking past the homeless guy rather than riding past the homeless guy.  I decide to give him the buck because I'm such a nice guy and because I've accidentally made eye-contact with him.  I stop and give him the dollar.  He thanks me, and I turn to go, and in doing so my foot connects with his plastic cup 'o' change, which goes flying.  Change everywhere.  I'm mortified.  I say, "Oh Jesus CHRIST," (clever, I thought) and scramble around in the gutter, gathering his coins, apologizing, feeling like I'd feel if I'd kicked the crutches out from under someone with only one leg or knocked the hearing-aid off someone who can't hear or knocked the artificial heart out of a guy who has an artificial heart (kinda unlikely, sure, but it's just an example).

So, I'm in Berkeley.  A few minutes later, still walking, and someone says "Excuse me," from behind me.  Lord knows why I turn around, I've already given a dollar away, I'm done with charity for at least another year, but I do, and there's a kid, probably 20 years old or so, running up the sidewalk.  "Hey, is BART around here somewhere?" he asks me.  BART is our light-rail transportation, and it is, in fact, around here somewhere.  "Yeah, just go up to Shattuck, which is that road there, and turn right, and it's about six blocks down."

"Which BART is that?"

"Berkeley BART," I say.

"Oh.  Uh, I think I need Oakland BART.  Do you know where that is?"

"Um.  Oakland."  I try not to make him feel stupid.  Well, that's a lie.  I try not to make him feel too stupid.

He kinda smiles, then runs off, eventually turning the wrong way on Shattuck.  He's gonna feel stupid with or without me, looks like.

So, I'm in Berkeley, and speak of the homeless!  They got some there, boy howdy.  I'm watching one (a different one, now), and he has a little push-cart, which he leaves next to a parking meter.  He also has a tiny little kitten on a leash, which he leaves tied to his cart while he goes into a coffee shop.  The kitten wanders out into the middle of the sidewalk, about as far as its leash will allow, and sits its tiny cat-butt down, staring intently at, as far as I can tell, an employee washing a nearby storefront window.

I stand there a while, watching the kitty, and watching passers-by react to the kitty.  Nearly everyone smiles, some stop to pet the cat, or talk to it, or try to get its attention by making noises at it, but the cat isn't interested in them.  The cat is transfixed, it seems, on the guy washing the window.  The guy washing the window notices the cat watching him, and actually seems to get sort of self-conscious about it.  He keeps looking over his shoulder at this tiny cat, he kind of pulls on his clothes and runs his hands through his hair, looks around to see if anyone is watching the cat watching him (I am).  The kitten's eyes are just burrowing into him, OR SO I THINK!  Then, the kitty's gaze seems to shift downward, downward, and then off the window-washer and onto the sidewalk.  I finally spot what the tiny kitten is staring at, and probably was staring at the entire time:  a small white fluff.  The kitten goes into a crouch, hindquarters waggling as the fluff blows a little closer, and then I am witness to the most pathetic pounce in the history of cat-dom, for there are about eight inches of sidewalk to cover and only about a quarter-inch of slack in the leash.  Sad.  But funny!

The fluff slowly rolls nearer, nearer, and the kitten strains to reach it, ignoring the dozens of cooing sidewalk-strollers, except for the one who stops and picks up the kitten, carrying the straining, wriggling body away from its fluffy prize, which had come within a few inches of its paws.  Tragic!  If Kitty Fluff-Capturing were a sport, this would go down in the 'L' column.  The pedestrian hugs the kitten and pets it and talks to it, and places it back down on the sidewalk, eventually, after the fluff has vanished somewhere.  Poor kitten.  All it wanted was a fluff to play with, a tiny fluff at that, and now it has nothing.  Nothing at all.

Nothing, except for a GIGANTIC GODDAMN RAT.

Yeah!  After giving up my search for the fluff, I look back over to the kitten, and believe it or not (and I kinda don't for a few seconds) the kitten is attacking a rat nearly as large as itself!  Patience is rewarded!  Kitty Karma in full effect!  The kitten is leaping, pouncing, biting, kicking, and clawing the shit out of a huge rodent that apparently just wandered over.  Forget the fluff and the pathetic pounce, this is a huge score, a victory for ineffectual kittens everywhere!

It becomes evident, however, that the rat is less than impressed.  It's just sort of sniffing around, completely nonplussed by its miniscule attacker.  I would expect rats in Berkeley to be fairly bold, possibly even evolved enough to ask for spare change or protest U.S. military action, but this seems a little odd, as I watch the kitten vigorously chewing on the rodent's head.

The homeless cat-owner is standing next to me, I see (and smell).  "Looks like your cat caught a rat," I say.  "Yeah," he says.  "They're friends.  I got them at the same time."  He walks over, picks up the rat, places it in a cardboard box attached to his cart, picks up the kitten, drops it on the cart as well, and they leave.

These may seem like random, meaningless stories with no common thread or point or purpose, but if you look deeply enough, you may find one.  If so, please alert me, 'cos I've looked and I can't find a damn thing.

Still!  There are Diversions to be had!  First, there's Pongling, which is a cross between breakout and bowling.  Very clever game requiring Shockwave.  Also, there's the Mini-Mizer, which lets you make a Lego representation of yourself, which is sure to come in handy.  And there's Fix My Face which lets you distort the faces of celebrities with your mouse, something guaranteed in our nation's Constitution.  Enjoy!  Links on the bottom left-side box thingie!


Last Week on Not My Desk!

Alas, Alack, Alarm
Bag Reel
A Hyena ate my Dingo Baby!
Missed Connections

My Desk Archives

Smurf Rescue
Donkey Kong
Space Panic

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Mary Jo Pehl Interview
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The Temp Test

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Chapter One

All material 2000 - 2002 by Christopher C. Livingston.

This website is a work of non-fiction.  The events and characters depicted on this website are not fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is totally intended.  Please, someone, sue me.  I'm begging you.  Or daring you.  Whichever works.  Really, it would make a good update or two if you sued me.  C'mon.  Do it.