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Fiction: Message in a Bottle

As I sit at my desk, I stare blankly at the paper in my hands. My mind wanders to my recent pursuits of subterfuge. It's all I can do to stop from screaming at the top of my lungs. Nine to five in an office environment is supposed to be hell for a cubicle monkey. But I'm not a cubicle monkey. I'm a junior executive. I should know better. And somehow, I do.

It all started about eight months ago. I was filling out an interoffice envelope. You see, these envelopes, they have a bunch of lines. You fill out who the contents go to with their floor number, drop it in the basket and wait for the mail room guy to deliver it to Suzie Secretary one floor down. It might get to her in 30 minutes. It might bet to her in 4 hours. If I walk it down, it'll be there in 5 minutes. But that's not how things are done in the Office. Then Suzie Secretary needs to send a document to Annie Accounting, so she crosses out her name, and writes Annie?s name and floor number on the next line. And the process repeats.

So I'm looking at the manila interoffice envelope and I see that there was a space left blank, between Suzie and Oscar the Office Manager. I see this and the blue Bic in my hand starts moving on its own. "B. Clinton, Floor 50." My keen sense of intrigue crosses out the Prez with a red Paper Mate, and suddenly President Clinton is just another person in the chain of interoffice mail. This is my one minute vacation from the duldrums of the Office. That's where it started. But it's not where it ended.

Future envelopes were sent to K. Annan, 49. T. Wood, 43. A. Kournikova, 69. Soon, interroffice mail was received by "This Place Sucks, 24, 7," "The Revolution is Coming, 11pm," "Watch Out for the Thought Police, 0." These one minute vacations. My own personal benefits program.

It's nothing really. No one notices anyway. No one notices anything. When I discovered that the Office got the new Zip gel-tip pens, no one noticed when the first five pens went missing. The pens were the most obvious item to take. Blue, black, red. Green when I got the chance, as they were gone the quickest. When I finally timed out the stock room guy's visits, they went even faster. Three boxes of green pens stashed in my bag. Twelve boxed of green pens stashed in my desk at home. Thirty-six boxes of green pens piled on the floor in my bedroom. I don't even write in green.

I have staplers and heavy duty staplers. I have more stenographer pads than I can count. I have enough office paper to cover the walls of my apartment and every other apartment in my 17 story building. White, pink, yellow AND pale blue. Then Sal the Supply Guy complains, half to himself, about how these people eat up all the supplies. It isn't me, I reply. What is wrong with people, I ask. He nods in acknowledgement. People are crazy.

I realized I could compound the damage by moving outside of the supply room. Bob Bigwig brings his morning paper into the john every day at 9:45am after his leisurely breakfast. Imagine how he felt the first time when there was no toilet paper. Imagine how he felt when there was no toilet seat. I heard his yelp as I washed my hands. I don't usually wash my hands when I'm done with my business, but I didn't want to miss the show. People are crazy.

The copier was the hardest. I had to come in after hours with a rolling suitcase. One of those silver hard shell ones. The doorman to the building didn't seem to notice. No one notices anything. Just another attorney or stock broker stopping by the office before a red-eye flight to his next business meeting. My power drill was able to reduce the machine enough to fit it into the shell. My hammer took care of the stubborn parts. I rolled the shell out, with a grunt as I passed the doorman. He didn't hear me through his Ipod. He didn't see me through my suit. The copier/printer sits in a pile in the corner of my "home office". It's still in pieces, like its own category of deconstructive office art. All part of my own personal benefits plan.

After a while, I knew I didn't need any more of the supplies. I kept taking, sure. But I needed something else. Some more time. I took it. Time sheets are easy to fake. As long as you are billing, accounting doesn't care. As long as sheets are on time, the office manager doesn't care. As long as they get paid, the partners don't care. Five hours on filing documents is no problem when the client is paying $875 for the task. Reviewing documents for eight hours isn't a problem for $1400. But what I am really doing is filing NEW documents. One reads, "Help. I'm in the storage closet. They won't let me out." Another reads, "By the time you read this, I will be gone." Still another reads, "If you want to live, get out now." The new message in a bottle. They should come to shore in months. Meanwhile, I'l be filing.

When messages got dull, I took strolls in the nearby park. Or $1750 for "meeting preparation", while I'm at the mega-bookstore, reading a book and drinking an overpriced iced tea. The tea, my cover chaege for the 5 hours that the bookstore becomes my own personal reading room. Need time off. Take it. Its all part of my own personal benefits plan.

This is what I do. I waste time. I waste supplies. I waste money. I am the embodiment of corporate greed, corporate waste and corporate apathy all rolled into one ball of human flesh. Otherwise, I'd be something much worse. A cog in a machine. A bomb ready to go off. When they realize that its me, when they realize that all of the supplies disappeared in my direction, or that my timesheets are filled with inanities, when they realize this, I know what will happen. But that is fine too. Because there are thousand other companies just like this one in the city. There are tens of thousands in the state. There are millions across the globe. All waiting for my waste. And this company, this one right here. They'll offer me a glowing recommendation, because this is big business baby. This is making money by avoiding lawsuits. This is fear of libel or slander, fraud and litigation. This is protecting company secrets, like that clients are billed for work not done, or that a quarter of the secretaries sleep with a half of the partners, all of whom are married. This is my personal benefits program. My one man golden parachute. Anarchy in the Office. Bedlam in the Workplace.

I sit at my desk and stare blankly at the sheet of paper in my hand. The interoffice envelope from which it came reads "I have found you, 1" in blue felt tip, crossed out with black ballpoint, all above my name and floor . The sheet of paper enclosed therein, a filed document: "We will be free." It's all I can do to stop from screaming. The revolution is coming. The troops are amassing. I'm closed off in my office, door shut, lights out. The sunlight peaking between the blades of the blinds behind me. I have been found. We will be free. Our own private benefits package. Our own golden parachute. I'm ready to jump.

posted by Jordan @ 7:46 PM,


At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post! Now off to poker!

At 8:41 AM, Blogger GaryC said...

Golden, as always, brother.


At 9:36 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

Thanks, guys. I'm glad you like it. I'm submitting it to Truckin' too, Dr. Pauly's E-zine. This is the fun stuff I get to do at work (writing, not sabotage). Its all part of my personal benefits program.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

Fiction? I think not.

Excellent story Jordan.

It will play well at Truckin'.


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