It was late in the day when it happened. The blood-red industrial carpeting absorbed what feeble light was emitted from the overhead fluorescents; the ventilation system grudgingly released only enough oxygen to keep us conscious. The absence of light and air combined to lull everyone into a post-lunch stupor. And then it happened. A loud "Ping!" announced the arrival of a Memorandum of Opportunity in everyone's Inbox.
M E M O R A N D U M O F O P P O R T U N I T Y
From: National Practice Director
To: All Practice Employees
A Practice-wide web cast has been scheduled for this Friday at 12 noon EST. You are all encouraged to attend. A Lotus Notes Calendar invitation with login/dial-in information will be disseminated shortly.
Our National Practice director was an abrupt woman referred to simply as "Capital B" or more familiarly as "B." At this point in time no one could remember, or agree on, what her actual name was but as she was only seen when employees needed to be terminated, or when hosting pointless web casts during which questions were strictly forbidden and any kind of interaction discouraged, this did not present a problem. What everyone did agree on, however, was the fact that she was "a bitch with a capital B." TWO had once called her "a royal bitch."
"No," one of the Cerberus objected. "Not royal."
"Certainly not royal," another agreed.
"Not enough class there for royalty," the third Cerberus put in.
"No," the first Cerberus continued, "She's just a bitch with a Capital B." The name stuck.
Our workstations¾some people called them "cells" but they were more like stalls in a horse trailer: you could walk in with relative dignity but they were so narrow that to leave you had to back out. Admittedly I have longer than average arms but stretching required me to stand in the hall otherwise my knuckles would crash against the walls on either side of my workstation.
With energy fueled by anxiety, heads popped up over workstation walls prairie dog fashion. Anxious eyes scanned for wandering officers. "What the fuck?" Nigel mouthed.
I shrugged then sank back into my chair to read the inevitable tweets that were sure to follow.
Brooklyn Sudano @Brooklyn NY
Think it's more layoffs?
Nigel Gale @MannequinMan
Of course. What else could it be?
Prometheus Jones @Theus
Can't be more layoffs¾no one left to lay off!
Diana Prince-King @TAFKAP
It's not layoffs—those are hardly web cast worthy at this point.
Xavier Jiménez @Madame X
Guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow.
Nigel Gale @MannequinMan
Whatever. This CAN'T BE GOOD!
We were all still reeling from the last few rounds of layoffs. In the first round, all local IT staff positions had been "eliminated" with the grand aim to "reduce redundancies within our processes," and those duties assigned to another group because "they do something with computers, too." The resulting debacle ended with the second group also being eliminated and all computer functions being outsourced to India.
The corporation’s name was Esperanto for “oneness”¾Esperanto, by the way, was an artificial language invented in 1887 by a Polish ophthalmologist who used the pseudonym Doktoro Esperanto; tellingly Esperanto translates as "one who hopes.” The corporation’s name carried with it the tagline, "Transforming the workplace of today into the workplace of tomorrow." But, the corporation had, under the leadership of Lizzie Borden, eliminated so many jobs, laid off so many people, one was left to surmise that the workplace of tomorrow wouldn't include any actual workers.
Missed Episode 3, Gay Day in Hell? Read it here.
Read Episode 5, Ghost, Meet Devil, here.
Copyright © 2016 Larry Benjamin
D I S C L A I M E R
The characters and events described in this blog post exist only in its pages and the author's imagination.