Thursday, May 05, 2005

Tomorrow's Another Day, But They Always Say That

So I'm sitting in my, I suppose you might call it plush and well-appointed, office on the thirty-first floor, reviewing protocols, as is my wont. I'm settled in, shoes off, both neckties wildly askew, feet planted precariously in the plant pot. Protocols are a tricky business. You might think that in reviewing them I'd pass some as acceptable, reject the obviously mad ones, mark some as in need of further revision and send them back, and bark angrily into the phone when some fool has sent me a prospectus instead which ought to have gone right to the fourteenth floor, or to hell for all I care. It's a tedious job, right enough, but somebody has to do it. No, if we're being above board about all of this, nobody has to do it, but I spent four tiresome years at Widworth getting my degree so I'd command an indecent salary, and the company has not disappointed in this regard.

I'm getting on with it, nothing better to do, and in barges Peswicke, from accounts repurchasable down the hall. Poor fellow, he had a gangrenous growth on his face removed last week, hideous scar, but the ladies all think it's rakish or something, and now his marriage is in danger. So the rumors go, and although I pay scant attention to gossip, I must admit that in my experience it's always absolutely true. He tosses a gray folder into my lap for me to stamp -- the folder that is -- as he always does, then plants his right buttock in my ashtray, tosses his wig at the hatrack, and announces that he's transferring to statistical variance. Then he leers, which threatens to burst the stitches on his face, but, not to worry, they stretch, and all that happens is a noxious yellow ooze dribbles off his chin and onto his cravat.

"I can't say I'm surprised," he says, scanning my face for any reaction. "I've been angling for this position for months, a full two grade increase, plus staff, funding, seven telephones, and an attractive assistant." He pauses melodramatically. Suddenly spittle flies in all directions as he cackles, "And I know you were eyeing that one too, weren't you? Indeed, if you hadn't put in for it, well, I shouldn't have known about it at all. But you know, in this business, ups and downs, the best man wins, you'll have your chance too someday. Maybe you'll be lucky and I'll be promoted and you can be my number two."

I'm thinking of lighting a cigarette and calling security. I'll grind it out into the carpet near his foot, start coughing extravagantly, and have them drag him away protesting. Company's very strict about smoking, and the scheme has worked before. But, no, it's all beyond that now. I stand up, smile ingratiatingly, extend my hand, throw my arm around his shoulder, lead him laughing to the window, then abruptly reach down and grab him by the cuffs, which precipitates him out the window. There's a long scream, almost counter-tenorish, followed by a distant splat. Then I call security. "Poor fellow," I explain later, "he was despondant about the scar, about his marriage, about not being up the the challenge of his new job, about his bizarre sexual predilictions...One minute he was blubbering by the window, and the next...he was gone." For good measure I bury my face in my hands and cry, "Oh, God!"

Old Growper tells me these things are simply terrible, but we must buck up and move on. "You take the rest of the week off, there's a good fellow," he says, patting me on the back. "But the protocols," I protest. "I must see to the protocols!" He shakes his head. "The protocols," he announces with finality, "can wait."

Damned right they can, 'til hell freezes over, ha. But I don't say that, of course.

So I leave. Didn't go home, though. Had a lovely little party for two with Mrs. Peswicke after we took the phone off the hook.