|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,
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
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
ME: "Yeah. Let
me know if you need anything else."
HER: "I will."
HER: "This is great,
HER: "So, I
understand you have a website!"
HER: "I hear you
have a website, and you wrote something about [NAME OF COMPANY I'M TEMPING FOR]
Wh-where did you uh, hear that?"
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
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
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,
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]."
HER: "Yes, something
about [she lists a few scattered details about this
She was smiling, seemingly
amused. All I was thinking was "THEY KNOW. THEY KNOW. OH
SHIT, I WROTE ABOUT STEALING AND MASTURBATING IN THAT LITTLE ROOM JUST
YESTERDAY. AND THIS WOMAN IS THE PERSON WHO SENT ME INTO THAT LITTLE ROOM
TO WORK AND NOW THEY KNOW AND SHE KNOWS AND SHE'LL READ ABOUT HOW I WAS THINKING
OF STEALING THINGS OR SPANKING OFF OH SHIT FUCK DAMN THEY KNOW THEY KNOW."
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...
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:
administrator has locked out your account."
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
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?"
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
"Oh. Uh, I think I
need Oakland BART. Do you know where that is?"
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
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
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
Week on Not My Desk!