A WEEK IN
Virgil is forced
to tackle a challenge greater than any rescue.
This story was written for the 2007 Tracy Island Writer's Forum Fish Out Of Water Challenge.
Dad would never admit it, but he's always looking for ways to
knock us back down to size whenever we start getting too big
for our haircuts. Well, what would you think if the one
of the Investor Certification techs at Tracy Corp called in
sick during an especially critical time and my father decided
that one of us just had to fill in?
granted, things in the rescue business haven't exactly been
booming lately, but really. How does he expect me to go
from manning the cockpit of the world's most sophisticated
transport plane to sitting in a cubicle, tied to a phone and
calling out to county recorder's offices to obtain mortgage
info for his real-estate division? I'd sooner have my
fingernails pulled out one-at-a-time...have fire ants crawl
over my naked body...uh, walk over hot coals
barefoot...um...well, you get the idea. Not exactly my idea of
a good time.
On top of
the tediously routine duties I'm expected to perform this
week, I'm also expected to attend any staff meetings that are
called. And if that weren't enough to kick in my inherent
humility, my productivity will be monitored as if I were any
other full-time employee. Something here smells like last
year's apple pie and I'm going to get to the bottom of it.
Sigh. I think I'll start by grabbing a cup of coffee. Can
somebody tell me where the break room is? I guess I missed the
I think I've decided that an advanced degree in engineering
does not necessarily ensure one's ability to Right Fax, laser
scan or operate a multi-conduit communications system. I mean,
even my last duty shift in Thunderbird Five was... "Oh, hello,
Bryan. Yes, I'm finding everything I need. You want me to
what? Oh, I see. Yes, I'll get right on that." Sorry, "The
Boss" just came by to check on me but I think it was more like
check up. From his demeanor, I'm guessing Father told
him the last name thing was just a coincidence.
could blame the equipment here for all my problems, or
just go the route of every engineer from time immemorial. If
you can't get the thing to do what you want it to...change
any enhancements I might care to add would probably not sit
too well with the current management and I am trying to
make a good impression here. Wait, did I just say that? Oh,
god. If Scott could see me now, he'd have a field day. Two
days down and, ugh, three to go...
it's hump day...and I'm still here. Aside from the fact that
I'm cooped up in this god-forsaken building, where the
environmental system makes the roof shake and sounds like an
approaching freight train every time it kicks in, things are
going well. Why, just this morning, the new guy that started
the same day I did, jammed the document disintegrator. When I
tried to go in and fix it, it grabbed my shirt and the next
thing I knew, I was wearing a midriff. Damn, that was my lucky
shirt too, or at least it used to be. The poor guy offered to
buy me a new one but I told him to forget about it. Boy, Dad
is going to owe me big time after this week and I'm not just
talking about my wardrobe.
it's lunch time. Now where did I put that sketchpad? Oh, there
it is...right under the leftover cake and icing from my
cubicle mate's birthday. Well, I didn't really feel like
drawing anyway. Sigh.
is a lesson to be learned by working here, I couldn't
begin to tell you what it is, except to say that I'm glad I
never had to actually do this for a living. My brothers and I
have been blessed, it's true. We've never really wanted for
much. And the only thing I want right now is to sneak out the
back door. Human beings just weren't meant to spend the
majority of their days in a cubicle farm. It's not natural,
never mind ergonomic. Gotta keep my chin up though. Just two
more days to go...
promised myself I'm going to start out this day on a better
note. After all, I'm only here for five days while many of
these people will be here for years. What have I got to
what Dad's trying to do and it's not going to work. I can
handle this. It's small potatoes compared to some things I've
endured. It's going to take more than a few degrading words
from "The Boss," or a co-worker with his cubicle in such a
state that you start wondering if he's incubating some new
type of organism that might emerge to come and suck your
brains out, to make me walk.
mean, does he really think I'm that easily broken? Oh, and I
almost forgot about the enthusiastic reception I received upon
returning from lunch.
sorry, what do you mean I can't get back in the building?
Where's my what? Well, it's right...Well it was there a
minute ago." Arrgghh! Where the $&( is my ID Badge?!
if Gordon ever becomes privy to any of this, he'll never let
me live it down.
(a.k.a. Freedom is on the Horizon)
nearly done it, served my time I mean. Just a few more hours
and I'll be a free man. God, I miss the island! Not since that
incident with the World Navy have I longed to see it so. One
thing you did accomplish, Father, was to give me a greater
appreciation for the freedoms we have as a family, the
freedoms you've given us. Rescues can be hell
sometimes, but I've realized now that what keeps us going is
knowing what it is we have to come home to.
becoming too complacent and that can be dangerous in our line
of work. Being here, in this place, has given me a new
appreciation for what we do and who we are. There is a fine
line between those two and that's the way it needs to be.
to miss that guy with the funky cubicle though. He's as real
as it gets.
tapping me on the shoulder. What, it's quitting time already?
Oh, well. And so ends my administrative career.
Dad, I've got some new ergonomic schematics for the office you
might want to take a look at.