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To: All employees(8:31am)

Subject: Moving Boxes

For those of you expecting moving boxes, they will be here this afternoon.



I write and send this e-mail to every employee of the Association of Neighborhoods on the instructions of my superior, a woman named Kathi. I am working for the A of N for a week, during which a large percentage of the company will be relocating to offices across the street. By the end of the week the entire office of about two-hundred employees will need to be packed up and ready to go.

I am pulling reception duty, but I also will be the center for moving information in what will no doubt be a confusing and frantic time. I am not worried, however, because the people I am working with seem well informed and the lines of communication in the office are so well structured as to be nearly telepathic in nature.

(Laughter subsides)

Ah yes. A fine idea. An entire company is moving so they bring in a stranger to coordinate it. Sometimes I wonder what the hell people are thinking.

Someone comes walking up. "Hi. The moving boxes will actually be here this morning," says the someone, who I think I met earlier but Iím not sure. "I saw you sent an e-mail."

"Oh. Well, Kathi told me theyíd be here in the afternoon and that I should send an e-mail about it."

"No, theyíll be here this morning. Can you send another e-mail so people can get an early start?"


To: All employees(8:51am)

Subject: Moving Boxes

Correction: The moving boxes will be here this morning.



Hours slowly pass while random employees harass me about the lack of boxes. "Why arenít the boxes here? The e-mail said theyíd be here!"

"Yes... someone told me theyíd be here."


Passing the buck is second nature to me, but itís harder when you donít know the name of the person you are trying to blame.

"Uh... someone."

One oíclock. Boxes! Finally! A whole lot of boxes. Stacks of them. Stacks and stacks and... stacks.

"Where do you want these?" the delivery guys ask.

Where indeed? Where the hell can I fit these? I donít want to clutter up the lobby. I run back and check the mailroom. Looks like thereís space behind the copier and against the wall. I show the delivery guys where to put them.

Kathi walks by. I happily point out the boxes. "Send out another e-mail," she says. "Make sure you tell everyone theyíre in the mailroom."

To: All employees(1:19pm)

Subject: Moving Boxes

The moving boxes have arrived. You can pick them up in the mailroom.




By the time Iíve sent the e-mail out the delivery guys have finished. I sign their clipboard and sit down. One less thing to worry about.

Someone walks up, the same someone, in fact, that told me the boxes would be here this morning.

"I see the boxes arrived," he says. "But you canít keep them in the mailroom. I think itís a fire hazard stacking them up against the copier like that, and besides, itíll block people from the extra paper."

"Oh," I say. "Where should I put them?"

"The supply room down the hall. The key is in your desk."

Great. Now I have to lug a thousand boxes into the tiny supply room, which is roughly the size of a tiny supply room, only smaller. All this while watching the phones and the front desk.

An hour later, exhausted and smelling like sweat and boxes, I am finished. I collapse in my chair and retrieve the 18 or so cranky messages from the voice mail. About this time people begin to show up asking where the promised boxes are. After all, theyíre not in the mailroom.

To: All employees(2:32pm)

Subject: Moving Boxes

The moving boxes are now located in the supply room down the hall from the


"The supply room is locked! How am I supposed to get in there?" a woman screeches in my face.

To: All employees(2:44pm)

Subject: Moving Boxes

If you need a key for the supply room, please see me at the front desk.


Kathi re-appears a moment after I have sent the last message. "Weíre going to keep the supply room unlocked until the move is over. Itíll just be easier."

To: All employees(2:48pm)

Subject: Moving Boxes

The supply room will be unlocked for the rest of the week. No key is needed.

It seems like the matter should be settled. The boxes are here, they are accounted for, and everyone knows where they are, and can access them. The end.

"I canít get into the supply room! Itís filled with boxes!" Another shrill, harpy-like woman. The place is lousy with them.

"Ah... ah... what did you need, maybe I can get-"

"I need a pen!" she says, brandishing a pen at me.

To: All employees(2:59pm)

Subject: Moving Boxes

The subject has been brought up that the boxes are blocking access to the    

supplies in the supply room. As an alternative, may I suggest taking the elevator

to top floor, opening a window, and jumping out of it.




Okay, I donít really write that one. I just give the woman all of my pens, splash her with holy water, and send her on her way. But another matter soon erupts.

"Where are the labels?"


"There are supposed to be labels. For the boxes."

I call Kathi. She says sheíll call the box company and get some labels sent over. They should be in tomorrow morning, she says.

To: All employees(3:02pm)

Subject: Moving Boxes & Labels

For those of you looking for labels, they will arrive tomorrow morning.




Mr. Someone shows up again a few minutes later. "Iíve got the labels," he says, handing me a thick envelope. "They were on my desk all day. Iím surprised you didnít ask me for them."

I still donít know who this guy is or why he is determined to destroy my life. Glowering, I snatch the labels from him.

To: All employees(3:11pm)

Subject: Moving Labels & Boxes

The labels have been located. They are in the mailroom with the boxes.


To: All employees(3:12pm)

Subject: Moving Labels & Labels

Correction: The labels are in the supply room, not the mailroom. With the boxes.   


Kathi arrives momentarily. She holds the labels in her hands and shakes them at me. "You canít keep these in the supply room," she says.

"Why?" I almost scream.

"They need to be given to the move coordinators for each department. They will allot them to the employees."

To: All employees(3:18pm)

Subject: Boxing Labels & Moving

The labels are no longer in the mailroom with the boxes. They are now in the 

possession of the move coordinator for your department.




To: All employees(3:19pm)

Subject: Boxing Movies & Ladles

Correction: The labels are no longer in the supply room with the boxes. They are 

not no longer in the mailroom with the boxes. They were never in the mailroom. 

Well, the boxes were in the mailroom, briefly, but the labels never were.




Despite astronomical odds, Monday actually ends. Shoulders slumped, ego battered, I slink off to catch the bus. I can only imagine what the average employee at the Association of Neighborhoods thinks of me. And another thought hits me as I take my seat next to the man with the rat on his shoulder: itís one thing to get numerous e-mails from some dope scattered throughout the day, but what about someone on vacation? Those e-mails will be stored in their system. What will it look like when they finally open their e-mailbox and get them all at once?

Probably something like this essay.


When I get to my desk in the morning, Someone is waiting for me. He is smiling.

To: All employees(8:05am)

Subject: Moving Boxes & Labels

We are out of boxes. Someone told me there will be more arriving tomorrow morning, 

or this afternoon, or possibly yesterday evening. They will be located next to the 

labels (which will not be there) in the mailroom or maybe the supply room, which 

will not be locked but for which I will have the key.

To repeat: At this very moment in time, right now, we are out of boxes.

I hit send just as the delivery man steps out of the elevator with an armload of boxes.

Another day begins.