A hollow voice says “Fool.”

You are seated in a black Mercury Sable with over 200,000 miles on the odometer. The radio is on, but you are not hearing it. You are supposed to be at work by 7:30.

>Look at clock

It is 7:33.

>Turn off car

You turn off the car.

>Take keys

You put the keys in your pocket.

>Take lunch bag

Your lunch bag feels suspiciously light.

>Look in lunch bag

Inside the lunch bag are two cans of diet soda and one can of carbonated water.

>No lunch?

I don’t understand. Try rephrasing your command.

>Dang it. Forget it.

I don’t understand. Try rephrasing your command.

>Get out of car

You are standing in the parking lot. It is about half-full, or potentially half-empty. The office is to the northwest.

>NW

You are at the front door to the office.

>Open door

It is locked.

>Inventory

You are carrying:
-car keys
-cell phone
-wallet
-ID badge
-glasses (worn)
-business casual clothing (worn)
-wedding ring (worn)

>Use ID badge on door

The door unlocks. You open it and enter the lobby through a second set of doors. There is a security desk in front of you to the northwest, flanked by two locked doors. The security guard glances at you with a look of recognition.

>Talk to security guard

“Hello,” he replies.

>Talk to security guard

He has already lost interest in you.

>Use ID badge on door

Which door do you mean? The left door or the right door?

>Does it matter?

Not really, no.

>Right door

You unlock the door and walk through. You are in a hallway. To the southwest is a hallway. To the northwest is an open space with two elevators. This open space is currently occupied with several coworkers waiting on the elevators. To the northeast you can see cubicles.

>NE

You are in a maze of uninspiring cubicles, all alike. To the north you can see a doorway.

>N

You go through the doorway. You are in a staircase. A sign says Central Stair 1. You can go up or south.

>U

You are in a staircase. A sign says Central Stair 2. You can go up, down, or out.

>U

You are in a staircase. A sign says Central Stair 3. You can go up, down, or out.

>U

You are in a staircase. A sign says Central Stair 4. You can go down or out.

>Out

You are in an open space adjacent to two elevators.

>Exits

You can go IN the stairwell.
If you push the elevator button you can get ON an elevator.
To the north is a hallway.
To the northeast is a hallway.
To the south is a hallway.
To the southwest is a hallway.

>SW

You are in a hallway where multiple hallways meet.  To the northeast is the open space by the elevators. To the north, south, and northwest are hallways.

>NW

You are in a hallway that extends northwest to southeast. To the north is a break room.

>N

You are in the break room.

>Look

There are four microwaves, one leaky coffee maker and three carafes (one decaf), a station for coffee-related items, a sink with a regular faucet and a hot water dispenser, an ice and water machine, a bin for recycling, two vending machines, two refrigerators, four trash cans in a cabinet enclosure, and a toaster.

>Put lunch bag in refrigerator

Which refrigerator do you mean? The left refrigerator or the right refrigerator?

>Does it matter?

Not really, no.

>Right refrigerator

Your lunch bag goes neatly into the refrigerator. You close it again because you were not raised in a barn.

>S

You are in a hallway.

>SE

You are in a hallway.

>S

You are in a hallway. Restrooms are to the west.

>S

You are in a hallway.

>S

You can’t go that way.

>E

You are in a hallway. On the wall to the north of you is a chart showing the employees in your department and how they are scoring on their goals. Don’t look for your name. The results will be depressing. Next to the chart is a large display for a contest for customer satisfaction surveys. Your name is written in permanent marker on a cartoon blowfish. To your credit, you’re tied for second place in the department with one other person. However, there are only three employees currently on the board. You idly wonder if people in other professions are also motivated by wall-mounted cartoon-based tracking systems reminiscent of grade school that show results of goals that are difficult if not impossible to control. You grimace at your cynicism. Someone worked hard to put this up here, and may have actually enjoyed it.

>E

You are in a hallway. Something catches your eye to the south.

>S

You are at your cubicle.

>Look

What a mess. Perhaps you WERE raised in a barn. On your desk you have:
-Piles of various work-related papers and a calendar
-Photos of family members
-Toy cars to help visualize how accidents occurred
-Graph paper for diagramming accidents based entirely on verbal reconstructions of people who regularly disagree on what happened
-Several well-worn stress relief toys
-Various office-related items such as pens and post-it notes
-Lotion that you never use but that has been there since you got your last tattoo
-Lactaid
-Plasticware
-Hand sanitizer
-Coffee mug
-Company-branded items that you will never use
-Junk you haven’t sorted or thrown out yet
-A telephone with a headset and Caller ID
-Two flatscreen monitors
Underneath your desk you have:
-A box with dozens more stress relief toys
-A box of “single-serve” coffee creamer (French Vanilla)
-An ergonomic footrest you inherited from a previous desk occupant
-A trash can
-A computer
-Two locked file cabinets
On your walls you have:
-A page of compliance regulations
-A page of file transfer regulations
-A page of phone numbers, most of which are out of date
-A drawing from your young niece that you think looks vaguely like a stapler attacking an aardvark with a hammer and a rose.
-A page of your assigned goals, most of which you are not meeting
-A shelf stuffed with papers that might be important enough to keep
-A name tag
-A random clip that you have not used other than to put it on the wall

>Sit

You sit at your desk. Your chair is ergonomic, which is a fancy corporate word that means “it makes you slouch differently.”

>Turn on computer

You log in to the computer, firing up nine separate programs requiring four different user IDs and two different passwords.

>Examine workload

You have four new claims – not bad for a Thursday morning – along with fifteen e-mails, notices of four voicemails, six file review notifications, four overdue claim items, eighteen claim items due today, and eighteen other items previously reviewed and set aside for later handling.

>Procrastinate

You check your personal e-mail and Facebook.

>Examine workload

There are nine additional e-mails.

>Dream

I don’t understand. Try rephrasing your command.

>Dream of something better

I don’t understand. Try rephrasing your command.

>Dream of a job that doesn’t include arguing with customers and other companies about whether someone is twenty percent or thirty percent at fault for an accident that you didn’t witness but had to put together from the memories of people involved even though you know how faulty memory can be and that people will regularly lie about their driving habits and skills. Dream of a job where you could use your talents in a way that made life better for other people as well as yourself. Dream of a job where you could potentially work from home, either using your creative ideas or your analytical mind to accomplish your goals instead of your customer service skills and negotiating by holding on to positions you don’t believe in. Dream of a job where work is enjoyable and rewarding and not just a way to collect a paycheck and benefits you can’t live without. Dream of a job where your hard work could be rewarded. Dream of a job where if you fail, you fail on your own terms. Dream of a job that makes you happy. Dream of a job where the people in charge say what the mean, mean what they say, and actually give a damn about you as a person and not just a fungible chair-filler. Dream of a job that fits your talents to your role. Dream of a job with more collaboration and less confrontation. Dream of a job where you genuinely smile more than once or twice a day. Dream that this job pays you enough that you can afford to keep it. Dream. And keep dreaming. And keep dreaming. And keep dreaming. Do not give up that dream.

I don’t understand. Try rephrasing your command.

>Work

You work, with the occasional break and with a stop for lunch, until the workday is done.

>N NW IN D D D OUT S SW SE IN

You are back in your car.

>Go home

You drive home.

>Go into house

You go into your house.

>Kiss wife and hold daughter

CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE WON!!!
Play again tomorrow? (Y/N)

>Y

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This entry was posted in Family, Fatherhood, Games, Husbandhood, Personal History, Thinky Thoughts, Words, Words, Words, Work, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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