It will be a while before lunch, and the meeting with Eddie to go over what we found in the basement. In the meantime I am in my cubicle, sitting on my 49-dollar chair, wondering what to do next. I have already gone through the rest of my emails, the ones that survived my daily Technology Stupidity Pruning Process, which I like to refer to as TSPP TM, and whenever I do that people ask me what it is, whether I really invented it, if it's ISO or not, and how difficult it was to get a trademark for it.

So I looked through all the emails and memos but found nothing, which is not entirely surprising. TSPP is a very efficient process.

I hear someone approach, then stand behind me. I turn around. It's Kathy.

Hey, I say, How's things?

Kathy looks at me behind her thick glasses and winces. There is no actual smoke coming out of her ears and nostrils, but that's what I see anyway. She is definitely fuming.

I'm trying to find out who's responsible for the mess in the kitchen, she says, in that inimitable shrill voice of hers.

Kitchen? I say, What happened?

Somebody must have tried to make coffee while juggling three cups, is what I figure, she says, It's the only way to explain two broken cups and coffee all over the table and the floor.

Wow, I say, When did this happen?

This morning, she says, And you know who I think it is?

Who? I say.


Ah, Tony, I say, Good choice. He was bound to do something like this sooner or later. He doesn't have the practice, you know? He never drinks coffee.

That's exactly what I told Ted, Kathy says, and there's this big smile that fills me internally. Helping your fellow co-workers, I think, that's what is really rewarding about working for a big, greedy, faceless corporation.

So have you talked to Tony? I say.

No, But don't worry! she says, and steps back. I'll let you get back to work, she says finally, and leaves.

I am left thinking that the real payoff in never being public about your stupidity is not that you will never to appear to be stupid, but that you can then screw up really badly and nobody will think it's you.

Mental note: do this more often.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes, the question of the ages. What to do next. Some real work, maybe?

That's a good idea.

I am about to start Minesweeper when I hear a voice, rising in tone from the distance, words stumbling on one another fast, really fast. Eddie. What's he saying?

A moment later I figure it out. He's saying, Whereishe?

I stand up and step out of my cubicle. Eddie is coming this way already.

Hey, Eddie, I say, What are you doing here?

You fucked me! He says, with more clarity than I've come to expect from him. A moment later his face is almost touching mine. If it wasn't for the flow of pure rage coming from his eyes, the bit of saliva dribbling out of his mouth, and what must definitely look like fear in my face, anybody would think we're about to kiss.

What are you talking about? I say. I put a hand on his shoulder, and he looks at it suspiciously. My hand moves back to my side and hides away in a pant pocket.

Here, step into my orifice, I say.

We take one step back into the perfect protection of the thin fabric-covered walls. Phew, that was fast! I say. So, what's happening?

Who didyoutalkto? Eddie says. Aboutthe stuff? Didyoutellanyone?

Of course not! I say. But will you tell me what's going on?

I wasjusttransferredhere, he says.

Here? To this floor?

To thisdepartment.


And guesswho's thecoordinatorformymove, he says then.


You are, he says.

Okay, maybe something is going on here, and both Eddie and I are involved. Why would they put us together? But then, if they know we know... well... there might be a reason. After all, think of all the money we'll save the company in phone calls.