I look around me, trying to match what I see with what I remember, but I can't. What I see is empty space littered with cardboard, wood, tools, random pieces of paper, paint buckets, a single height-adjustable chair standing in the center of the room, lonely survivor. What I remember are cubicles, people, printers and network cables all over the place, a coffee machine, desks, and those idiotic posters that said TEAMWORK, or EXCELLENCE, with inspiring photographs to match, like a bunch of guys in a row boat, necessary things to instill passion into us and maybe help us get some exercise.

The posters were the initiative of one of the many managers-of-the-day, Joe, whom we lovingly referred to as Six-Pack. He arrived one morning with the posters covered in gift wrapping, and he made a big thing out of the announcement. He called everybody in the group to the conference room, and he asked for silence before giving us The Big News.

Yesterday I had an idea, he says, and I can see everybody thinking that Well, there's always a first time for everything. He smiles and then he unwraps the posters, looking at them with a sort of paternal pride.

We are going to hang these everywhere, he says. They are great aren't they?


Well? What do you think? Six-Pack says. Cool eh?

Jordan looks at him the way one would look at an ant.

That is the stupidest idea I've ever heard, she says.

Yeah, Al adds, That is horrible.

Six-Pack maintains his impervious smile.

My turn.

I say, However, we are in need for something to stabilize the table here in the conference room... sometimes it wiggles you know... how thick are those things?

Six-Pack says, Well, they'll grow on you, then he left.

We all agreed that the posters would be gone in a week.

And yet...

By some bizarre effect of inertia, the posters are still here. Not as many, no, but some remain. Passion and inspiration in a can. Luckily, we were in no danger of being swept away by the images and the phrases, after all, we spent our days looking at a computer monitor. Once in a while, we would cover the posters with our own, with signs that said BITS ARE LOW ON FAT and ridiculous slogans like that, but they invariably were gone the next morning. The thought police at work, or the don't think police if you will. Once we found one of the janitors removing our impromptu additions and we asked him why, and he simply shrugged and said, I do what I'm told guys, then went on ripping our harmless words off the walls.

And now the people are gone but the posters remain, extolling TEAMWORK, and EXCELLENCE and PASSION to empty space and the construction workers that move silently around, painting and fiddling with electrical sockets. The board room of the company must have similar posters with different slogans like IMPERMANENCE, THE WAY TO GO, or, LAYOFFS, A SOLUTION FOR HARD TIMES.

There is nothing left of us here, no trace. Which means that I won't find anything, particularly since I didn't know exactly what I was looking for. I'm about to leave when one of the workers, possibly feeling sympathetic for my earlier encounter with a poor man's EST, says, What are you looking for?

I say, Just old records, you know... I guess they're gone now.

Everything was moved to the second basement, he says, Below the parking lot.

I thank him and walk out. The door has been fixed, but I push it open with my foot anyway, just in case. Past the treacherous door I relax for a moment, but there is still the little matter of finding information about Action Plan B and why so many people seem to be interested in it.

To the basement.