I am in Sally's ex-cubicle, looking at its contents wrapped in transparent plastic foil and all I can think of is the cash registers at McDonald's. They are wrapped as well, so the machine will be protected. People can walk around with their hands dripping grease without much of a problem, you see, but not machines. Because machines are an investment. People are a resource. Investment appreciates or depreciates. Resources are simply spent.

I wonder if at some point it was the other way around.

Probably not.

Most of the cubicles around this one are empty as well, their contents packaged and stacked in neat piles, ready for transport to a new life somewhere. The contents of the whole floor will be moved soon, or that's what the secretary at the entrance told me. Moved, away, to a new office fifty miles out into the suburbs.

A cost-saving measure, she said.

Then she said, The move alone will cost more than the rent for the entire year.

I said, No kidding, what a joke.

Then she said, Yeah tell me about jokes. I got this one today. Do you get it? Then she pointed at her screen, an email.

I read it. The joke was, There are 10 kinds of people in this world, those who understand binary, and those who don't.

I chuckled.

She said, You think this is funny?

I said, Well, on some level...

She said, You're an engineer?

I said, Well, sometimes.

I felt embarrassed. Here it was, the famous digital divide, the result of a world where not even the jokes are user-friendly. I changed the subject, and asked about Sally and her cubicle. Could she take me to it, maybe? Instead of replying, the secretary pulled a piece of paper out from a drawer and handed it to me.

It was a map.

A map? I said.

She smiled, nodding, then the phone rang, and that was it.

So I walked into the floor, few of the noises of corporate life around me. No voices, no phones ringing, no clicking of keyboards. A bizarre cemetery, the gravestones replaced by thin walls with a name hastily written down on a sticker slapped on them.

It took me a while to get to Sally's ex-cubicle, hidden in the center of the maze. It was the only one where the sticker had been removed, and I found everything shrink-wrapped and ready to go, and here I am now.

The computer is almost certainly a dead-end, I don't even try to get it out of the packaging and plug it.

What I'm looking for is blood.

Or, as we call it these days, paper.

Paper, that's what will help me.

I look through the thin shiny plastic at the binders's labels. Emails, Emails, Memos, Projections. Then I find it. Strategic Plans. I rip out the plastic. I look around for a trashcan but there isn't any, so I just leave the crumpled plastic foil on the desk and I open the binder.

The contents of the binder look just like what I left at home. Mentions of Strategic Plan One, then Plan Two, then Plan B. Charts, printed emails.



The last item of the binder is a printout of Plans One and Two.

I flip through the pages, but there is nothing strange here. One buzzword after another, words with no meaning like Synergy, Responsibility, Growth. Semantics and syntax bent and twisted to their limit. But at the end of Plan One there is a special item.

It says, After Plan One is complete, it should be followed up with Plan Two.

Plan Two is pretty much the same garbage. One number up the chain, and the joke comes back: from 1 to 10. But Plan Two offers nothing new, except another section at the end that says that all the steps have been followed and the next stage should start.

Then it says, Refer to Plan B.

So that's why the reports mentioned to Plan B. Somebody's already gone through Plans One and Two, and now they want the rest. I remember a sentence from the reports at home, printed in uppercase letters that jumped out of the page.


Which steps where approved? The steps to execute Plan B, or the steps to find it?

It must be to find it. And Eddie knows something about this. Eddie must know where Plan B actually is. Eddie wouldn't talk about it over lunch. We just sat there, both with our Big Macs, fries, and super-sized monster plastic cups that look like they could hold entire oceans in them. I asked questions, the same questions, over and over. Eddie wouldn't say anything except, Not here. Then we went back to the office and the smell of Tony's sandwich was almost gone. We sat down and stayed in silence for a while, then I came here, leaving him alone. I still wasn't sure what he was up to.

But now I'm sure. He knows. He has to tell me, but doesn't want to. So how can I get it out of him? There must be a way. I have to think.

Back to the office. I leave the cubicle, binder in hand.

And this time, I will not tell Eddie about it.