Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Anatomy of an Hour
8:17 a.m. -- Walk into building. Hang coat up. Walk upstairs to cubicle. Turn on computer. Unsuccessful. Change password. Successful reboot. Decide against clicking on Outlook to check mail, fearing an avalanche of tasks will descend before taking seat at desk. Blinking light on phone indicates the presence of stored voicemail message(s).
8:23 a.m. -- Grab coffee mug, find tea bag, get tiny creamer from refrigerator. After inspecting level of sediment in mug, wash vigorously with detergent, rinse, wipe dry. Exchange brief pleasantries with colleague at sink.
8:27 a.m. -- Upon walking to hot-water dispenser, thinking about urinating but postponing the action, get paged to answer phone call from client on line 31. Put mug down, near tea bag and creamer on colleague's unoccupied desk to take call.
8:28 a.m. -- Pick up line 31. Empty. Client has hung up.
8:29 a.m. -- Go to bathroom. Urinate. Wash hands. Attempt to dry with paper towel. No paper towels. Wipe hands on underarms.
8:34 a.m. -- Search unsuccessfully for mug, tea bag, and creamer. Get paged. Call on line 32. From wife. Go to receptionist's desk, pick up line 32. Learn that the lunch self-prepared earlier this morning is still sitting on the kitchen table. Instruct that it be placed in the refrigerator at home. Call on line 31. From client. Pick up line 31 at front desk. Client scolds for not taking earlier call. Ask receptionist for Post-it or scrap paper by waving hands, lifting eyebrows, and making spastic motions. Other calls coming in. Receptionist demands that call on line 31 be put on hold and responded to away from receptionist's desk, to free up incoming calls.
8:37 a.m. -- Take client's call on line 31, at own desk. Client asks if email has been received. Lie by saying, "Yes" but bluff through the rest of the client's monologue as client lists edits to five bulleted items, including reordering and adding new bullets and deleting others. Take notes on last week's pay stub found in pocket because Post-its left on desk last night have been used by others. While client is talking, cradle phone in curve of shoulder and attempt to retrieve email client is referring to. Email is down. Interrupt client and cheerily ask for edits in a fax, claiming email never came through, totally contradicting earlier lie. Client turns frosty. Reach for mug. It's not there. Feebly attempt humor with client. Starchy reply, emphasizing deadline. While client is making key critical comment, call is lost from client's cellphone.
8:45 a.m. -- Rush downstairs, find mug, place tea bag in mug, fill with hot water. Walk upstairs to desk, letting tea steep. No creamer. Sip very hot tea despite wanting creamer. Try email. Still down. Click on Internet Explorer. Home page headline reads: "5 Tips for a More Productive Day." Click on link; glance at five bulleted items; resist reading complete article; send printer-friendly version of article to printer. Take one quick look at NCAA brackets. Resist urge to read further. Send NCAA bracket results to printer. Walk three yards to printer. Only NCAA results print out.
8:52 a.m. -- Ask receptionist to check on UPS package sent last night to another client. Not there yet. No record of it in the system. Ask receptionist to follow up.
8:53 a.m. -- Supervisor enters office and asks for draft of proposal promised by noon. In response to protests it is not yet noon, says, "Well, it's noon somewhere." Receptionist phones, informing of nine-page fax to be picked up downstairs.
8:56 a.m. -- Run downstairs, retrieve fax, run to refrigerator, pick up creamer. Run upstairs back to office.
8:57 a.m. -- Take gulp of tea, now cold, but with creamer. Email is up: 36 messages, three with symbols indicating high urgency.
9:01 a.m. -- Scroll to message of client who called earlier on line 31. Faxed version of edits is completely different. Begin to call client. Get paged. Doctor's office. Line 33. Get paged again. Client from earlier line 31 now on line 32. Client berates for not calling back on cellphone sooner. Client walks through a now-third version of edits significatly different from emailed version or faxed version. Client then interrupts self. Can't finish revisions, must board plane. Doctor's office not on line 33 anymore.
9:11 a.m. -- Call doctor's office. Receptionist puts call on hold. Background music is "A Day in the Life" by The Beatles. Click on one of two urgent emails. Email message inquires as to reason for missing yesterday's regulatory deadline. Delete message.
9:13 a.m. -- Doctor's office answers; asks name again. Hang up.
9:14 a.m. -- Client calls with edit from plane; flight delayed. Hang up.
9:15 a.m. -- Take sip of cold tea. Grab coat and keys. Walk downstairs.
9:16 a.m. -- Sign out, writing: "Appointment in Samarra." Exit building.
9:17 a.m. -- Outside, on bottom step in front of stairs to office, call doctor's office on cellphone. Busy. Call X, in another time zone. X answers call, says: "Surrender to win," laughs, hangs up. A jet flies into a bank of clouds.
© copyright 2007 by The Laughorist. Any resemblance to reality or real persons, places, events, workplaces, things, or thoughts is merely coincidental. All rights reserved. Just for today, the day you are reading this fiction nonfiction.