entry_215The path from my office to the microwave bank in the kitchenette takes me through each of my office’s departments like the “It’s a Small World” conveyor at Disney World. Every tribe is huddled into its respective cluster, each with its own unique culture. For the hapless isolationist this trip affords a greater than ideal opportunity for engagement, but as I’ve been treading the same route for nigh on a decade, I’ve come to rely on my instincts to see me through. In fact there are times when I don’t realize I’ve made the trip until I’m back at my desk, hunched over my gruel.

Living an automated life puts me at a disadvantage, insofar as it sacrifices flexibility for routine. To wit, my near encounter with Gerald earlier this week. Just feet away from my goal, I was forced to break my steady pace to dance around Gerald, who was staring down at his tray as he walked. The grace of my pirouette was such that he took no notice of me. Even so, my momentum had been compromised, and where I normally arrived at the microwave on my left foot, I now arrived on my right, and had to make an additional half-step on my left just to be positioned appropriately. It’s a small matter, but I only realized the consequences as I went to enter the cooking information into the keypad. My mind was a complete blank.
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entry_214My friend Julia is so slight, so unassuming, that meeting her is like having a premonition that you’ll meet her. It’s not so much that she doesn’t leave an impression, but rather that it’s difficult to interpret it. “Let me show you something,” she was saying to me.

Her office isn’t far from mine, so, weather allowing, we meet in the park for lunch once or twice a week to mull over anthropological observations, or to make conspiratorial plans. The latter has become a rather long-standing tradition between us. Before we part ways we exchange details regarding corporate espionage, ranging from the cleverest way to take out a stairwell, to the smaller matters of psychological warfare, such as using up 98% of the ink in every pen on her manager’s desk. Of course we never go through with any of it, but it’s not in the accomplishment, but in the planning.

Julia rummaged through her backpack, and I tossed a cookie crumb at a pigeon. Looking at Julia, you’d never know these thoughts were going on in her head. That was the beauty of it. In fact you’d only remember seeing her a few moments after she’d gone. She would make a great spy–a fact underlined by the object she held out to me.

I read the nameplate: “Chris Berkovsky.”

“My boss,” she said.

“You have his desk plaque thing.”

She hugged it to her chest, “I do, and for an hour it’s mine to do with as I please.”

This was new. “You stole his name,” I said, laughing.

“Borrowed it,” Julia corrected. “I have to return it after lunch without being caught. That’s the challenge.”

“Of course,” I said. “This is the guy who pissed you off about a month ago, right? About… something about micromanaging a project you were working on?”

She returned the nameplate to her bag with some satisfaction, and brought out a sandwich wrapped in wax paper. “Oh, he’s always doing that. He’s on me constantly for the tiniest of details, but his criticism is baseless. I know he’s making it all up because after he’s barfed all over a project, I’ll take it back to my desk for a half hour, make a new printout, and take it to him. Then he’s fine with it. As long as he’s had his moment to press his thumb to my spine he’s okay.”
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