2 comments

Funny Fiction Sad

I

On a Wednesday afternoon, at a small desk, in a cramped, long, dirty gray office trailer; right outside of an old dark urine colored building going through its third year of construction, sits an ordinary guy answering help desk calls for the Byte Corporation.

“Help desk this is William. How may I help you?”

“Yes,...I can’t figure out something on my computer,” responded a frustrated older male voice. His leathery, worn and tattered face smothered with wrinkles and sadness could somehow be seen over the phone.

“Maybe I can help. What’s your problem?”

“Well I’m looking for the meaning of life on my computer. The guy at the store said I could find it with this new model that I just bought, although, I don’t see it anywhere.”

“Sir, is there something wrong with your computer?”

Will’s comforting demeanor and his sympathetic patience was starting to rapidly fade.

His partially broken desk is located directly in the walk way between the dysfunctional shared restroom, that was off limits to anyone trying to empty solid waste out of their body, and the refurbished items sales manager’s office. Frequently, one of the finance assistants goes from one end of the trailer to the refurbished manager’s office at the other end, forcing William to roll his tattered gray office chair from one end of his desk to the opposite.

“Yes, every time I ask it about the meaning of life, it just tries to sell me a Monty Python movie.”

“Sir, I recommend that you take some computer classes. Now if you have a genuine problem, then I am here to help. Otherwise I need to take other callers.”

The caller pauses. After clearing his throat, he despairingly replies, “I’m sorry. I just got out of prison. I’m new to this world. I’ve been incarcerated for twenty years for possession of one Marijuana joint and now that I’m out I have to work for lawyers in the Pharmaceutical industry.”

William paused and contemplated the caller’s statement for a while. Then he thoughtfully replied, “Wow! That’s awful. I understand. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a prison myself. I used to think this was my Dream Job until I actually began it.”

Will’s calm and comforting manner started to return. He’s proud of at least trying to be a pleasant and sympathetic ear to customer’s frustrations. He always tried to put himself in their shoes.

Then the older gentleman began, “You know I discovered some strange relationships between prison and work. For instance, in prison, you spend most of your time in an eight by ten cell. At work, you spend most of your time in an eight by eight cubicle. In prison, you get three free meals a day. At work, you get a break for one meal and you have to pay for it. In prison, you get time off for good behavior. At work, you get rewarded for good behavior with more work.”

“That’s interesting sir…” William tried his best to cut in, but with no luck. As the caller continued to ramble on the phone, William glanced at the small round mirror taped to the upper left corner of his stained beige computer monitor. William uses it to get a heads up on the next time he will have to roll his chair to the side to let someone by. He notices that the short dark hair on his head is beginning to sprout gray hairs. These same hairs seem to be appearing on his chin also. The dark bags under his eyes are not matching the light brown skin of his face and body anymore either. However, his big bumped nose seems to still be the same eyesore he always saw it as. All of this observation depressed and distracted him so much so, that he didn’t notice someone standing behind him waiting for him to move his chair.

“Come on Will! Wake up! I need to bring this report to Refurbished,” Chris P. Bacon of accounting, who resembled a cleaner and much more serious version of Howard Stern, yelled, then slapped the back of Will’s chair rattling him a little. Will shook his head out of the daze of despair, noticed Chris, and then gradually rolled his chair to his right letting him through. He also remembered that he was still on a call with a customer.

II

“In, prison, a security guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you. At work, you have to carry around a security card and unlock and open all the doors yourself. In prison, you can watch TV and play games. At work, you get fired for watching TV and playing games. In prison, you get your own toilet. At work, you have to share a toilet.”

“Sir, I’m timed on each call. I have to resolve issues in a timely…” once again he tries to intercept and re-take control of the situation, but with no success. In his frustration, William grabs a yellow sharpened pencil from his desk drawer and starts to lightly beat down on his penitentiary green work desk.

He starts to fiddle and play with the white eraser until it finally gives way and breaks, only to bounce off, hit his dark red camp shirt, and begin to roll under his desk. As he pushes his office chair back and starts to crawl on the filthy snack sprinkled burgundy carpet, dirtying the knee areas of his loose fitting dark blue tech pocket pants, his troubled caller continues on.

“In prison, you spend most of your life looking through bars from the inside wanting to get out. At work, you spend most of your time wanting to get out so you can go inside of Bars. In prison, there are Officers who are often sadistic. At work, they’re called Managers.”

The line cut off abruptly and a nasty surprise startled William while he was on all fours. On the other side of his chair’s wheels, he saw a pair of ugly brown flat business shoes worn by corporate women aggressively trying to climb up the ladder of success to break through the glass ceiling. Then after slamming the top of his head on the underside of his desk his reaction to this was to groan a very loud, “Owwww!”

“Butler! What are you doing goofing off with the callers? I was monitoring that phone call. Get back to work or I’m writing you up again,” Will’s supervisor, Ashley Trai, barked angrily and scowled at him. She was dressed in a very conservative khaki skirt that reached all the way down from her flat bony waist to her bony ankles. Her business shirt was the same beige color and resembled someone you’d see on a Fox News church special. Her pasty pale face looked like the product of backwoods inbreeding with her beady eyes almost completely crossed below a thick yellowish uni-brow that assisted in scowling at him behind her black horned rim glasses.

As he was getting up and back into his chair, he brushed off his knees and noticed some orange gum stuck to the bottom of his lace less black dress shoes. He focused on removing it instead of explaining anything to Ashley because she never listens to him anyway. Plus, in an hour it’s time for him to go home. He looks at his desk phone and sees that the ringer light is flashing. Another caller is waiting for assistance. He hopes that it’s the last of the day. He quickly answers it to avoid any interaction with Ashley, and lucky for him she ended up getting called away by another office worker anyway.

“William Butler, how may I help you?”

“I’m trying to change my background can you help me?” the female caller asked. Her voice resembled the kind of girl that liked to collect rare and boring Midwestern quilts.

“Sure. I need you to right-click on the desktop.”

“OK,” she responded.

“Did you get a pop-up menu?”

“No.”

“OK, right-click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?”

“No.”

“OK, mam. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?”

“Sure, you told me to write ‘click’ on my desktop and I wrote ‘click’ on it.”

Will couldn’t take it anymore. He took his headset off, and dropped it. He put his hands on his head, and his elbows on his desk. He paused and took a couple of breaths. He started to reminisce about working at his last job for a Native American Boarding School where he helped to reinvigorate and modernize the entire Network Infrastructure.

He wasn’t just a Help Desk Technician, which is a respectable position in and of itself, he was the entire department’s Director. He had people working for him and he only had to answer to the Federal agency above him. Not this amateurish pecking winch who keeps coming around and cackling at him.

Right after he hung up with the last caller, the loud and noisy sounds of a pair of partially soiled yellowish safety glasses, a headband with a light, and a white painter’s mask startled William before he turned his head to see one of his fellow help desk coworkers, Jack Knoff, dropping them onto his desk.

“Ashley wanted me to give these to you. It’s your turn now butt head,” his raspy voice barked. He was blonde, blue eyed, and muscular. His facial features resembled a cross between a pig and an alligator. His circle beard and bushy mustache didn’t help his unattractiveness. Underneath his tight gray stretchy shirt and tight blue jeggings pants, his skin was sporadically smothered with sunburns, acne, pox marks, and overcompensating super macho tattoos of weapons he had no skills in using. He seemed to be one or two inches shorter than William’s six feet height and he smelled a little bit like rotten flowers and a dirty wet feline.

“What are you talking about? I just did it this morning,” William brings his attention back to his computer screen pointing to his Outlook calendar confirming his declaration, then he continues, “It’s actually your turn now.” He turns to him and Jack is nowhere to be found.

III

After leaving the trailer with the items Jack brought, and stepping into the eighty eight degree California heat, Will, navigates through the maze of construction chaos that is the parking lot of the Byte Corporation. The loud noises of bulldozers, saws, drills, forklifts beeping as they backed up, and workers yelling at each other saturate the environment. Some people are wearing orange safety glasses, yellow vests, and hard hats. Some people are on top of ladders as well as walking on and working on the roof.

He walks past someone, not wearing safety glasses, dumping a gray plastic trash can into a blue dumpster and then his ears are assaulted by the loud annoying sounds of heavy metal bits and pieces slamming into the bottom. He narrowly misses walking into a puddle of oil, then at the last second after noticing a huge gap between the main office building and the parking lot, he quickly leaps over the gap, avoiding injury.

Now in the building, William briskly walks past the bustling Parts department. Then past Shipping and Receiving with its loading up of products into diesel trucks, and quickly through the conveyor belt jungle of the Configuration department.

As he’s walking through Configuration, he witnesses Config Technicians rapidly receiving new desktops, laptops, monitors, scanners, printers, and tablets, then opening them up and removing video cards, network cards, and other individual components and either replacing them with upgraded versions, downgraded versions or simply leaving them out altogether. Then the techs re-assemble the workstations or laptops, tests their functionality, then wipes them down and applies bar code, QR code, warranty, and\or general info stickers to their cases.

A small sliver of envy comes over William, that gradually starts to build pressure into a giant shard. He knows he’s as good or better than any of these techs, but he must have been too late at getting a position like the ones they have.

After finally making it past Configuration he finds himself at the entrance of a heavily dusty and polluted construction zone that used to resemble a large office floor with many private offices and cubicles. He puts on the safety glasses after trying to clean them with his shirt, attaches on to his forehead the LED light headband, then pulls the yellow elastic strap of the painter’s mask and covers his nose and mouth while letting the strap grip the back of his head. For where he was going, the Data Server room, there was no electricity, except for one outlet across the hall from it, so he turns on the light attached to his forehead and marches on.

The floors had a flurry of extension cords that were supplying energy from loud and noisy generators outside. There were stand up lamps spraying hot light on pinpoint areas of interest. Carpenters were electric sawing lumber on silver metal work horses, window guys were measuring the empty holes where windows go, door guys were measuring the empty spaces where doors would go, and plumbers were implementing new pipes in brand new black tiled floored restrooms with incredibly annoying white automatic toilets and sinks.

Since there was no central electricity, that meant that there was no central air conditioning blowing cool air from the ceiling or removing hot exhaust from the Data Server room. Once William finally got to the hallway that led to the server room, there was no door protecting the room. Instead, there was a giant human sized fan completely blocking the doorway blowing out 100 degree exhaust, and visibly inside the small dark and damp space the size of a public restroom, there were two portable rolling air conditioners pressed up close to the server rack blowing mildly cool air and liberally leaking water all over the floor. This effectively created yet another hazard because the puddle is currently approaching the orange extension cord that is halfway plugged into another orange extension cord that stretched all the way from the outlet across the hallway.

After noticing the water, Will searches for large towels to soak it up, but with no success. All he could find was six small red shop towels. He pushes the large fan slightly to the side to create an entry point in the doorway so he could slide his chubby I.T. Worker belly through. Then he applies the towels to at least temporarily postpone the disaster of short-circuiting.

Its completely dark with only his small head lamp to provide illumination. He finds the almost unplugged cord and plugs it in further completing the connection. Then he carefully ducks under hanging communications cabling and steps over power cords to make his way to the other side of the two sectioned server rack where he finds the portable battery powered leaf blower.

Even though he repeatedly advised the I.T. Director that not only should there be real air conditioning blowing clean fresh air in; but also sufficient lighting, a door, or at least a shower curtain or even beads protecting the room during the construction, or even removing the entire server rack and all the contents of the server room to a safe place, the I.T. Director always ignored his warnings and said that he was unable to convince the owner of these ideas, so therefore just leave it.

“You’ll just have to leaf blow it out once a day,” Richard Head, the very tall, wide, and currently physically injured from the workplace itself, I.T. Director would remark. Then he’d patronizingly accent his comment with an, “It’s an adventure Will!”

Will picks up the orange and black leaf blower, rolls the power dial forward to get it blowing. Storms of dust and particles drench the air as he blows over the DELL and CISCO Switches and Routers. There’s caked on gunk on the twelve terabyte SAN Redundancy Storage Unit. No matter how hard he tries to clear it off it doesn’t come off. He makes his way to the IBM Blade Servers and frees them of some dust, but not all. Then he finishes up with the ShoreTel VOIP Server and Switches.

After he’s done, he rolls the power switch back off, lays down the blower where he found it, exits out of the room and the construction zone, and stops for a moment outside in the parking lot. His clothes are now saturated with white and grey dust. He looks like a ceiling fell on him during an earthquake. He turns the headlight off and removes it, then he pats off all the particles on his clothes to a point where he at least looks semi “Office Professional.”

Returning to his seat at his desk he puts away the glasses, removes the mask and then begins to put his phone headset back on to take more calls. He notices the phone flashing and as he’s about to press the button to answer it, the dragon lady returned to his cubicle, “OK Butler, you’re getting a write up for this one.”

“Why? What did I do wrong?” he asked with his hands puzzlingly gestured in the air.

“You disappeared. There was a barrage of calls and poor Jack got overwhelmed with them,” she replied.

“What?...but he said you wanted me to leaf blow the server room!” William tried to explain.

“You already did that earlier today William. You should be ashamed of yourself blaming poor Jack like that. Look, I know you just disappeared because you hate your job, but if you don’t want to work here, you can always quit. Amazon is hiring.”

Then she left his cubicle. He put his head on his desk and closed his eyes for a brief moment.

Work sucks!

August 31, 2021 23:15

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

2 comments

Irene Girton
17:27 Sep 09, 2021

Congrats on entering your first story, and what a roller coaster ride it is! You painted a really vivid picture of this poor guy. On the other hand, you use a lot of adjectives -- maybe cut that back a little to enhance the flow of your descriptive text.

Reply

J. J. Fauria
21:39 Sep 09, 2021

Thank you so much for reading it. It is partially based on true life events. I really appreciate your Critique. I agree, I do have an issue with trying to jam pack too many descriptive words in one sentence.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply