E-maling to Efficiency and Effectives (Weekly Writing Challenge)

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

(Once again, I have to thank The Daily Post for suggesting that we write about e-mails.  However, I still refuse to post by e-mail.  How do I show gratitude for them Fresh Press-ing me last week?  By rebelling.)

E-mailing to Efficiency and Effectiveness

Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements.” –Office Space

Howard parked his car and glumly looked around the parking lot.  A sea of four-door cars, all of them silver or white, looked back at him contentedly.  The cars knew what they were supposed to do until five o’clock.  The paragons of domestic accomplishment were tasked with sitting out in the sun, warming themselves, and generally relaxing in the clear blue sky.  Their drivers, on the other hand, had work waiting for them inside.

Howard sighed, heaved his heavy briefcase towards him, and got out of the car.  He reached in one last time to grab his coffee cup from its resting place in front of the shifter.  He could already feel the warmth of his car’s interior increasing.  Howard shook his head, sipped his coffee, and chirp-ed his car alarm into action.  Howard often wondered what good it did to have an alarm that he couldn’t hear from his desk, but it made his insurance bill lower so he chose to play along.

Walking in the glass door, Howard held his ID badge up to the time clock and listened as the familiar be-deep acknowledged his existence.  The man dressed in a black suit, black tie, black slacks, blue shoes, and a gray shirt, reached inside his briefcase as the kitchen rose into view.  His attire, much like his office space, was dull and lifeless.  Howard took the Sharpie that hung by a piece of yarn from a refrigerator-magnet, wrote his name on his brown paper bag, and then added a frowny-face to voice his displeasure.  Howard was not thrilled about being in the office today, and he would share his frustration and annoyance with anyone who would even think about pilfering his meager lunch.  He closed the fridge door and hoped that his food would be waiting for him later.

Upon leaving the sole communal area, Howard looked out at the office.  As always, he was greeted by the impersonal and blasé sight of dreariness.  Standing at five-feet tall, the cubicle walls were not imposing, not harsh; they were simply there.  They had no aspiring qualities.  They were merely there to be divisive.  They were there to separate the accountants from the advertisers.  The supervisors were walled off from the underlings.  The only thing that the beige and gray walls didn’t section off were conversations.  Every phone call, every moment of casual interaction was overheard and oftentimes commented on.  Howard’s solution to that conundrum was to e-mail everything.

At the far end of the room, Howard could see a large, picturesque window that let the cubicle-clan catch a glimpse of the real world.  The last of the morning clouds had burnt off.  He could feel the veins in his neck tightening already.  He sat down, glared at the calendar on his carpet-covered wall, and turned on his computer.  As the fan whirred to life and the supposedly amusing tones echoed from his tiny speakers, Howard knew he had to break free.  As soon as his wallpaper came up, a happy view of Howard and his family standing on top of a mountain, Howard pulled up his e-mail program.

Quickly clicking on the “new” button, Howard typed the first three letters of his coworker’s name into the subject line, tabbed down, typed in “lunch” as the subject line, and began his first e-mail of the day.  The other seventy-four messages that had wondrously appeared in two and a half days could wait their turn.

“Hey.  Going to go crazy if I don’t escape today.  Lunch?  Outside?”

Howard clicked “send” and took another sip of his coffee.  His cup felt worrisomely light.  Howard tilted the cup back the entire way and the last few drops fell into his mouth.  Great, Howard thought to himself.

Ba-Don, came the noise from Howard’s computer.  He opened the newest letter from Jack.

“Yes.  A thousand times yes.”

Howard clicked “reply”.

“Where do you want to go?”

This time, Howard could hear the Ba-Don from his coworker’s desk.  Scant seconds later, the sound resonated from his computer.

“Outside.  Not here.  You?”

Howard typed, happy to have a cohort in his great escape.  Only four hours remained until they could be free.  “Hawaii.”

“HA!!!”

Howard chuckled at the audible response that resonated over the cubicle walls.  He could imagine Jack’s embarrassment as the others wondered what he was up to.  Soon, Jack’s response hit Howard’s screen.

“Don’t think we have time for Hawaii.  Maybe a park?”

“A park?”  Howard frowned as he typed.  “Parks are crowded with small children.  I’ll have enough of that when I get home.”

“I suppose”, came Jack’s response.

“Besides, I stepped in dog poop the last time we went.  Never again.”

Again, Jack’s hardy laughter burst from his cubicle.  Howard smiled at the comic relief he was getting out of his colleague.

“Stop that!”  Jack’s note was followed by several angry emoticons.  “If you keep making me laugh, we’re both going to get in trouble.”

“It’s not my fault you have no self-control.”

“That’s what she said!”

“Ugggh”, Howard tossed his head back and groaned out loud.  He took his gaze away from the buzzing lights that were recessed in the ceiling and typed out a vexed reply.  “Stop doing that.  The rest of us stopped seven years ago.  It’s done.  Move on.”

“No.  I’m bringing it back.”

“It hasn’t been gone long enough to return!!!”  Howard hoped his extra exclamation points would get his exasperation across.

“YOU’RE WRONg!”

“Nice caps-work, tool.”

“SHUT UP.”

“See”, Howard typed gleefully.  “I’m instructing you already.  What a productive morning we’re having.”

“That’s it.  Stand up”, demanded the newest e-mail.

“What?”

“Stand.  UP.”

Howard could hear an office chair creak and the casters roll as movement sounded from the other side of the wall in front of him.  He stood up himself and looked his cubicle mate in the eye.

“Good morning”, the man across from Howard said.

“Good morning, Jack”, Howard replied.

“Nice to see you”, Jack said as he extended his right hand.

Howard took the man and shook it.  The awkward barrier was still separated the two, but they greeted each other across the obstacle like two pros after a tennis competition.

“You too”, Howard replied.

“Shall we head to the waterfront for lunch?”

“That sounds dandy”, Howard answered.

“Swell”, Jack said.  “See you then.”

“Looking forward to it.”

With that, the two men sat back down.

Ba-Don.  Howard grinned at the newest arrival to his in-box.  He opened Jack’s note and read, “E-mail’s for ineffectual morons.  We’re still humans, darnit!”

“What, you’d rather have a real conversation than drag this out for ten minutes?  Where’s the technological advancement in that?  Luddite.”

“I hate you.  See you at noon.”

Howard looked at the clock.  Eight seventeen.  Howard headed to the kitchen to make himself a second cup of coffee.  Twelve o’clock was going to be a long wait.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

2 Responses to E-maling to Efficiency and Effectives (Weekly Writing Challenge)

  1. Sunshine says:

    Had a great time reading this…thanks for the laughs. 🙂

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