I light up a cigarette. It's getting hot outside, the summer will peak soon. The smoke moves slowly. It might start to bother me in a while, but for now it covers up the lingering smell of old trash.

I lay out all the reports side by side on the coffee table. There are six. In the center I place the note.

I read it again.

Ted, how far should we go with this? The note says.

How far should they go with what? And why am I receiving these?

Think. Think. Think Different.

God, I hate it when advertising interrupts my thoughts. And grammatically incorrect advertising at that. I push the image away.

The package had me as the sender. Maybe that's why I've received it. This one, and the other two. Okay. That sounds plausible. Sure.

I place the note to the side and look at the reports. The thickest one has a strange title.

Missing Action Plan Report, it says.

I start to read it. It has a short summary that makes some references to other reports. The five other reports on my coffee table. If I go to the pages on those reports, there are still more references. Some references contradict each other. Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Enough contradictions and you've got yourself a project. Perhaps not surprisingly, the two-page summary at the beginning says nothing about the report itself. It doesn't say why it was done, or who commissioned it. It doesn't say what is it about. It does have a really, really nice image of the company's logo, in full color. Color printer. Wow. This must be important.

After the summary there is a long list of memos and printed emails. From Operations, to Division, to IT, back to Operations, and so on. They all concern something referred to as the Missing Action Plan.

If it was Missing in Action Plan, we could call Chuck Norris, I think. I push the image away again. Stupid undisciplined brain. Concentrate. Concentrate.

The memos and emails, as far as I can tell, say nothing. They repeat, over and over, the same thing with different words. They all say that nobody knows where the Missing Action Plan is. One of them appears to be written in Chinese, coming from the company's Hong Kong division. One of them has a three dimensional graph tracing possible impact of the Missing Plan on the company's revenues and costs. Based on Estimates, the text below the graph says, since the Action Plan is Missing, and nobody really knows what was in it.

I start to flip the pages faster. I reach the end. There's another summary. And the answer.

Missing Action Plan, Plan B, says the title.

Plan B?

I light another cigarette.

The summary goes on to specify how the search was performed, and why. Apparently there are two other action plans. Plan One and Plan Two. Both are in place, says the summary. A master list of plans mentioned Plan B following Plan One and Plan Two. Plan B, however, is nowhere to be found.

The last sentence is really what the report is about. It's printed in large font, in boldface and italics. All letters in uppercase.



I read the sentence again. I wonder which of the thousand monkeys randomly typing away in a room came up with that piece of garbage.

I've never heard of Plan B. Or of Plan One, or Plan Two for that matter. True, it's not as if I am kept informed of strategic decisions in the company. But usually these things are announced with big fanfare, like the movie of the week in your favorite TV channel.

Okay. Let's go over this again.

There's a Missing Action Plan. It's strategic. Some people have spent many hours typing and printing stuff to make sure this was well understood. So what? And why should my manager be interested? And why is someone using my name for this?

Maybe now that I know what to look for I'll be able to get some answers at the office.


I look at the clock in the wall. I've spent close to an hour with this. Enough time wasted. Time for a much more productive and fulfilling endeavor.

Time for TV.

As I look for the remote, it keeps coming back. There are no more traces of rotting banana carcasses or 2-day old chicken, and still the only thing I can think of is: I don't like the smell of this.