Thursday, October 19, 2017

Story 208: Meeting Interrupted by a Horror Movie Villain

            (Committee meeting in a board room)
           Chair: Yes, I think we have wasted far too many words on this subject and I move that it should be tabled until the end of time – anyone second that?
            Member 1: Wait, I want to make a motion on –
            Chair: Motion denied.
            Member 1: But you don’t know what it is yet.
            Chair: I will address the Committee: by a show of hands, are there any members present who care?  (No one looks up) Motion fails to pass.
            Member 1: Aw, my motions always fail to pass.
          Chair: Returning to the original motion: second?  (Several hands raise) All in favor?  (All hands raise) Motion passes; let the minutes reflect that this Committee will never raise the issue of that abomination again.  Now, the next item on the agenda is: should this Committee allocate funds for the upcoming event that none of us went to last year?
            Member 2: I think you just answered that question right there.
           (The board room door bursts open to reveal Horror Movie Villain: a hulking behemoth of a monster man who just stands there)
            Chair: (To the administrative assistant) Gladys, I thought I told you not to invite anyone for presentations this month!  Did you mess up the agenda again?!
            Gladys: (Frantically searching through piles of paper) But I didn’t – I told them not to – this isn’t fair – !
            Chair: (To Horror Movie Villain) Well, it can’t be helped now.  Please take a seat.
            Horror Movie Villain: (Speaks from the depths of Hell) Your soulssss… are mine….
            Chair: You can ask questions at the end.  (Gestures to Member 3, who pulls out a rolling chair from against the wall behind Horror Movie Villain so that it hits the latter in the back of the knees, forcing him to sit heavily on it) Now, let’s see.  (Reads from a form in a packet) So you’re the sales rep with the landscaping vendor, correct?
            Horror Movie Villain: Desolationnnn….
            Chair: Gladys, please give him a glass of water.  (Gladys hands Horror Movie Villain a glass of water; he stares at it) Remind me what your company’s bid is again?
            Horror Movie Villain: (Rattling breath) Flamesssss… ice…..
           Chair: (Flips through the packet) No, I don’t see that – ah!  Here it is; yes, we actually did reach a consensus last meeting that the amount needs to be under- and not over-budget this time: would your company be willing to revise its proposal?
            Horror Movie Villain: (Looks at the Committee Members, still holding the glass) Burnnnn….
            Chair: I don’t think it’ll come to that; perhaps if you reduced your estimate by 10%?
          Member 1: I’d like to make a motion to completely reject this company on the grounds that their sales rep appears to be a literal demon.
           Chair: Strike that from the minutes!  And you’ve surpassed your quota of motions for the year.
          Member 1: There’s no such thing in parliamentary procedure!  You’re always trying to stifle my departmental voice on this Committee!
            Horror Movie Villain: (Stands slowly) Ruinnnn… torment….
           Chair: Yes, I think we all agree – Gladys, please show the rep out and make sure the front desk validates his parking.  (Gladys takes the glass from his hand as she takes him by the elbow and guides him out the door) So that issue will have to be tabled until the next meeting when more information is forwarded to us for review.  (Gladys re-enters) Oh yes, I just realized that we can’t continue if you’re not here to take minutes….  Everything all right?
            Gladys: (Looking at a piece of paper she is holding) He gave me this thing that says “One-Way Ticket to the Underworld,” and then he jumped into a fiery portal that just opened in the wall.  It’s gone now.
            Chair: Oh good, I was afraid he wanted us to call him back.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Story 207: The Office of Proper Perspective

            “Come in!” The Adviser called out in response to the knock on the door.  The Client gingerly opened the door, quickly took in the office, and slightly smiled.  “Have a seat!”  The Adviser gestured to the chair in front of the desk.
          “Thanks,” The Client said, sitting down and alternating between looking quickly at The Adviser and staring at the floor.
            “So,” The Adviser began.  “How did you hear about us?  Referral?”
          “Actually, I saw an ad online when I was, you know.”  The Adviser waited with raised eyebrows.  “Killing time waiting for the long night to finally end.”       
            “I completely understand.  And how can I help you today?”
            “Well, the ad said your company can solve nearly all problems, which everyone knows is impossible, so what’s the angle?”
            “Exactly what the name of our company is.”  The Adviser pointed to a sign on the wall that read “The Office of Proper Perspective.”  “We make you realize that your problems are really not problems at all, once you apply The Proper Perspective.”
            “Oh, OK, I don’t know about that.”
           “Let’s start by you telling me what your problems are at this moment,” The Adviser said while readying a pen and notebook.  “Pretend I’m someone you know really well, and just vent everything you can possibly think of.”
          “All right.”  The Client shift in the seat, thinking for a moment.  “So lately, I feel like everything I do is wrong and I wish it would all be over.”
            The Adviser nodded, not looking up while taking notes.  “Um-hm.  How so?”
         “Well, it’s all about work; I’m sure it’s always about work, right?”  When there was no response, The Client continued: “I’m in a dead-end job I don’t really care about, I can’t keep up with the work, and a few weeks ago two people in my department simultaneously quit so now I have all their work on top of all my work that, as I mentioned two seconds ago, I can’t keep up with!  So in essence, the work tripled while the time remained the same – I swear those two made a pact to get revenge on us or something – and no amount of money would ever make any of this worth it, since I have no time or will to enjoy it!”
            “Um-hm.  Even if it were $1 million an hour?”
            “Maybe – only because then I could retire within a week.”
            “OK.  Anything else?”
            “Any – !  Isn’t this enough?!  I’m going to have a heart attack and drop dead at my desk, and nothing that I did will ever have mattered!”
            “Um-hm.”  The Adviser stopped writing and picked up the notebook to read from.  “In light of the information you’ve given me, I’m going to ask you a few questions.  Question 1: Are you in good health?”
            “Well, yes – ”
            “Sub-question 1: Do you have full use of your faculties – physical, mental, and emotional?”
            “Well, yes – ”
            “Question 2: Do you have an adequate number of still-living relatives, and/or do you have decent relationships with the ones present?”
            “Well, yes – ”
            “Question 3: Are you currently homeless, penniless, and/or loveless?”
            “Well, no – ”
            “Question 4: Are you currently the plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit?”
            “Well, no – ”
            “Question 5: Are you currently the target of an obsessive stalker and/or other pervert?”
            “Question 6: Are your current co-workers and/or boss horrible trolls who make your days a living Purgatory?”
            “Well, no, they’re pretty decent; it’s not their fault all this happened – ”
           “Final Question: Do you always have something to look forward to outside of your work day?”
            “Well, yes, my family and friends – ”
            The Adviser set down the notebook and looked at The Client.  “So.  Tell me how you feel about your problems now.”
            The Client squirmed a bit and mumbled: “I guess when you put it like that – ”
            “I’m sorry, what was that?”
         “I said, I get it!”  The Client looked up from the floor.  “Whatever problems I have are temporary and aren’t as bad as what I could have wrong with my life.  You’re right, and I feel slightly better about the whole thing: is that it?”
            “Lovely.  You can pay the bill at the front desk – have a nice day!”  The Adviser waved at The Client, who half-heartedly returned it on the way out the door.
            Two minutes later: “Come in!”
            A face popped in: “Is this ‘The Office of Hugs for Horrible Lives’?”
            “That’s back out in the hall, second door on the left.”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Story 206: The Accidental Magician

            (Co-Worker 1 stops by Co-Worker 2’s desk)
           Co-Worker 1: So I have to go to one of those meetings that tries to accomplish something important and manages only to fill the attendees with regret – wanna come with?
            Co-Worker 2: (Staring at nothing) Actually… I’m too disturbed to do anything right now.
            Co-Worker 1: How’s that?  Corporate coming to inspect your department today?
          Co-Worker 2: That I could wrap my head around.  No, it’s just – (Finally focuses on Co-Worker 1) I’ve suddenly realized that I’m a magician.
         Co-Worker 1: How’s that again?  You taking lessons for a second career as party entertainment?
            Co-Worker 2: No, I mean that I’ve discovered a power that I’ve never had before, and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with the omnipotence right now.  I’m afraid I might destroy the world with it by mistake.
           Co-Worker 1: (Pulls a chair over to sit) All right, I’ll bite: what’s this newfound magical power you think you have?
            Co-Worker 2: (Leans in and whispers) I can make things disappear.
            Co-Worker 1: Oh, is that all?  I do that all the time – it’s called age, love: welcome to the years of declining memory; I’m looking forward to the senility myself.  Not really.
            Co-Worker 2: It’s more than just misplacing a few things – I mean, you eventually find them somewhere, right?
            Co-Worker 1: For the most part.  I’m still always on the lookout for my 5-year pin, though, so if you come across that just leave it on my desk, would you?
            Co-Worker 2: Well, I’ve been making things disappear and THEY NEVER COME BACK.
            Co-Worker 1: That’s a pretty definitive statement to make, though – there’s no way to prove it either way and is therefore fallacious.  Yes!  I learned that word last week and have been dying to use it in a sentence, thank you.
         Co-Worker 2: You’re not getting it: in the past month I have lost seven pens, three desk calendars – and not the tear-off kind, mind you, I mean the big ones that take up the whole desk – four staplers, a report saved on my computer, two pieces of candy, and 25 minutes!
            Co-Worker 1: (Blinks) Right, except for that last one, I think you’re just another unfortunate victim of The Office Thief.  I hate that guy.
            Co-Worker 2: I wish I was!  An external menace I could deal with; it’s the internal ones that can never be defeated, save by your own death.
            Co-Worker 1: OK, let’s back this up a little here: how are you so certain that someone isn’t just stealing your stuff?  Or that you’re not just misplacing them really, really well?
            Co-Worker 2: Allow me to demonstrate: do you have a pen or something else on your person that you aren’t particularly attached to?
            Co-Worker 1: Fine, let’s see – (Searches through pockets) here, here’s a cigarette – (Gently slams it onto Co-Worker 2’s outstretched hand) that I shouldn’t be holding onto anymore, so this is perfect, go ahead, make it disappear!
            Co-Worker 2: (Holds the cigarette in the air for a moment, then sets it gently on the desk) Now, we wait for the magic.
            Co-Worker 1: (Stares at the cigarette for a bit, with folded arms and twitching) So, is there going to be a puff of smoke or pixie dust or something here?
            Co-Worker 2: Nothing like that.  All I have to do is make contact with the object, and then ignore it until I make it disappear.
            Co-Worker 1: It’s probably just going to roll off the desk and get stuck next to the garbage can, you know.
            Co-Worker 2: You’ll see.  To keep you from staring at it, tell me what this meeting today’s going to be about whilst I keep my hands visible in my lap.  (Does so)
            Co-Worker 1: Oh, well, (Looks at watch) I’ve missed it, so that’s a good thing.  It’s one of those where we all get told what new tasks we’re going to get assigned to make things better, we’ll have to do them for a few months, and then the whole extravaganza sputters out to nothing and we all give up until the next go-round – it makes me so sad.
            Co-Worker 2: Hm.  I have to go to one like that tomorrow.  (Turns to where the cigarette was on the desk and then looks back at Co-Worker 1) Et voilĂ .
            Co-Worker 1: (Points to the now-empty spot on the desk) Wait a minute.  I didn’t see it move.  I didn’t see you move.  So where is it?!
            Co-Worker 2: Indeed.  Where could an inanimate object possibly have gone within the space of a minute with no obvious outside force acting on it?  You don’t know!  And neither do I.
            Co-Worker 1: (Scatters around the remaining objects on the desk, dives under the desk and searches a bit, then pops back up) It disappeared.  I don’t understand, there’s nowhere else for it to go!  (Looks at Co-Worker 2) It’s in your pocket.
            Co-Worker 2: (Turns pockets out) If only the answer was that I was a disturbed kleptomaniac.  No, I fear that my powers are all too real, and I have to figure out how to control them and soon, else the next thing to disappear forever may very well be the Atlantic Ocean.
            Co-Worker 1: Well, even though I’ve only had one weak example of all this – (Grabs a co-worker passing by) would you mind making Bob disappear?  He’s mean and makes the world a worse place with his horrible actions.
            Bob: Hey!
            Co-Worker 1: Own your sins like a real man, Bob!
            Co-Worker 2: See, this is what I meant earlier – I can’t go around using my newfound powers for evil!
            Co-Worker 1: But Bob is evil!
           Bob: Would you mind plotting behind my back like a normal person?  I need the manufactured justification for my revenge later.
            Co-Worker 1: (Releases Bob) Yeah, fine, go away while we plot, Bob.
            Bob: (Straightens shirt) I thank you.  (Leaves)
            Co-Worker 1: Maybe “accidentally” bump into him later, if that’s all you need to do?  Then we can all breathe freely in a world without Bob.
            Co-Worker 2: (Stands) You know, I told you all this for the sympathy and maybe some advice, and instead you did the typical human thing of trying to exploit it for your own advantage.  Good day to you.  (Leaves)
            Co-Worker 1: Where are you going?  There’re still two hours left on your shift!
            Co-Worker 2: (Turns back self-righteously) I’m going to the rest of that meeting you ditched – maybe some good can be brought out of all this madness!
            Co-Worker 1: Fine, you… nerd!  (To self) Waste of perfectly awesome powers; wish I could make things disappear, then it’d at least look like I got some work done around here.