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Chairman of the Bored

I'm excited! The person training me today looks just like Jackie Chan. I decide not to mention this to her.

Like most inanimate objects in the known universe, the coat-rack in the office hates me. After picking it up, re-hanging my coat (and everyone else's), and shaking hands with a woman whose name I immediately forget, I am shown to a desk and introduced to the woman who looks like Jackie Chan.

Jackie Chan is pretty much my biggest hero, so I think its understandable that I get a little overzealous and immediately launch a flying axe-kick over the desk at the woman. Actually, I don't, but I want to. I figure that if she looks like him she can probably fight like him, too, right? We could battle all over the office, me using the Snake Technique and her using Crane (or perhaps Scorpion). At least that's the way life at the office should be. Interesting, fun, with lots of kicking. But no, she's just a woman who is going to train me, and there will be no Kung-Fu fighting in the accounting department today.

I am going to be working at the invoice desk for this swimwear company, and it is a long-term position, lasting until March. I decide that if I like it, I will probably take it, since it is only about a half-mile from home. I don't know much about accounting, other than that... well... okay, I don't know anything about accounting. I think it has to do with money.

As with all the jobs I take, I have arrived with a jacket, tie, vest, and dress pants. Jackie informs me that I'm overdressed.

"It's casual attire here," she tells me. "You don't need to wear the tie and jacket and pants and all that."

"Great!" I say, elated.

"I think you misunderstood me," Jackie says the next morning as I arrive. "When I said you didn't need to wear pants, I meant dress pants. You do need to wear some sort of pants."

How embarrassing. Luckily, it is a swimwear company, so I slip into some Speedos until lunch, when I go home and get some jeans.

I must admit, when I learned that this was a swimwear company, I somewhat expected to see lots of women in bikinis around the office. So far, I have seen only zero, and I am quite disappointed. No kicking, no women in scanty swimwear. And I have to wear some sort of pants. This job is just wracked with disappointments.

Jackie is going to be training me most of the week, and I don't get her desk until she leaves. I am given a small corner of a cluttered table that supports her large, circa-1947 computer. This will be my "work area." It amounts to a space about the size of a napkin, and in this space, I am supposed to look through piles of invoices, sheaves of these yellow slips, and reams of these other pink papers that are kinda smelly. Sometimes I write on these papers, and other times I staple them together. Sometimes I do both, and even staple white slips on these things and put them in piles.

I feel I am getting a firm grip on this accounting business.

In all fairness, this job is actually okay. I haven't screwed up anything too badly (yet) and I have plenty of free time to stare out the window at my car. Someone on the phone actually told me I had a great voice, which is nice to hear, yet is also a sign that the phone system is truly in need of repair. My only real complaint so far today is that I am $312 in the hole in computer solitaire.

I've finished the work that was supposed to last me all day, and now I have nothing to do. All the mail has been delivered, so there will be no new material on my desk until tomorrow. Since it's still early, I ask my superiors if they have any projects or tasks I can work on for the rest of the day. 

Ha ha. No, I'm just kidding. I sit there and do nothing while trying to make it look like I'm doing something.

This is going to be kind of tricky. Iíve been busted playing solitaire twice already this morning, so I figure Iíd better lay off it for a while. People are always in and out of this office, so I can't read a book or magazine without being noticed. This is going to be a challenge.

I'm going to have to amuse myself with the objects on my desk that I use during my workday. All I really have is an adding machine, a pen, a stapler that has the words Do not remove from copier! printed on it, a white-out dispenser, a phone, and some paper clips.

After an hour of staring blankly at these objects, I have come up with some highly amusing and challenging games.

ADDING + SUBTRACTING = FUN!!!
Using the adding machine, add up some numbers! Try to guess what they will add up to! You can also subtract one number from another, which usually results in a smaller number(!).

 

Another game with the adding machine is where you guess how many 9's you can fit on the display before you run out of room!
DRAWBACK: You can only play the 9 game once.

 

THE EMPIRE STAPLE BUILDING
Take a handful of paperclips and try to stack them into a tower on top of the stapler. The taller the tower, the higher it will be! And you'll be high on fun!

 

E.T. PHONE NOME
Use the office phone to call Nome, Alaska! Area code 907! It's free!
TIP: Other cities in Alaska will work too!

 

PEN-DULUM
Take a ballpoint pen, and click it so the point pops out and you can write with it! Holding the pen at the other end between two fingers, swing the pen like a pendulum over piece of paper! As the pen brushes across the paper, it will make a series of hard-to-see lines! Itís fun!
DISCLAIMER: Game is not fun.

 

THE CLICK-TRICK
Click your ballpoint pen on and off as fast as you can for an hour or until you get painful thumb cramps! Whee!

 

THE GAME WITH THE WHITE-OUT
Do something fun with the White-out!
TIP: Don't eat the White-out!

A few hours pass and I still have no more work to do. The day is just dragging on and on. I decide to do something dangerous, something that could end my celebrated and lucrative career as a temp.

I decide to take a nap.

I know, I know, not only is it extremely stupid, it's also extremely difficult. But I'm tired of stacking paperclips on the stapler (my record is thirteen! Pretty good, huh?) and I think I can pull it off. My desk faces away from the door, so no one can see my face. The woman I share an office with doesn't usually talk to me. If I can prop myself into some sort of awake-like position, I might be able to have a quick snooze.

First, I take a few invoices and position them in front of me, as if I am working on them. Then I kind of lean over them and prop my head up with my arm: my elbow on the desk, my chin resting on my hand. It's not too uncomfortable, really, and from behind I'll appear that either I am intensely studying a very tricky invoice or that I am sleeping.

The main problem is that I have a rather large head and a rather small arm. It's like trying to support a basketball with a golf club: very difficult to balance. Whenever I manage to doze off, my head sways in one of several possible directions, which jolts me awake. From behind I now appear that I am either trying to take a nap or that I am drunk.

This dozing is not working very well, and I can't get more than a few moments rest before my huge, swaying head wakes me and I have to open my eyes and reposition. I seem to have found a good spot to put my elbow, and manage to drop off again, but this time my elbow slides to the left and I am jolted awake again. When I open my eyes, I notice that someone is standing next to me.

It's my boss.

I groggily yet quickly spring into action. I sit up straight and lunge for the nearest office implement, hoping to appear busy. I manage to grab the stapler and I yank it towards the invoice in front of me, trying to ignore the thirteen paperclips that shower over me, clattering noisily onto the desk and floor. As I randomly staple some paper together, I look over at my boss. "Hi!" I say in a voice that sounds so alert that anyone hearing it would instantly testify in court that the speaker could never have been sleeping at work. "What's up?"

My boss is standing there, flipping though some papers. She isn't even looking at me. I don't think she noticed that my eyes were closed.

Whew. I feel really stupid and somewhat ashamed. Boredom has led me down a dangerous and bewitching path. Obviously, I need to rethink this napping business. It seems clear that I need is some sort of early warning signal. Something to let me know when someone has entered the office. Maybe I could spread something crunchy on the floor, like broken glass or M&M's, something that makes noise when someone walks on it. Maybe I could hang some bells from the doorway that people would hit with their heads when they walked in. One thing is certain, I need to figure out something quickly.

I'm getting sleepy again.