Regret doesn’t wear socks

Regret and I don’t always see eye to eye on things. Clothes for example. The joy of a talking cat is that you get to hear about it. All the other cats I’ve had in my life simply look dismayed when I chose my clothes.

A few months ago I needed socks, and me being me I just grabbed the first package I saw at the store and called it a day. Wasn’t until I opened them the next day that I saw that the toes of the socks where lettered L and R as pairs.

I checked the packaging. These weren’t children’s socks. They weren’t special socks for morons (or at least weren’t obviously packaged that way). So either the letters were ironic, or the manufacturer of the socks actually believed that their product was so finely machined that mattered which foot they were were worn on.

“You sure you didn’t get the moron brand?” said Regret, when I showed him.

I tried them out on either foot. Couldn’t tell the difference. Over the weeks that followed my behavior, indeed, my entire philosophy regarding the socks, changed markedly.

At first, I didn’t really give a fuck and just wore them as they came out of the drawer. Too Lefts? Who gives a fuck.

Then, it started to become a bit like tea leaves for the day. Left on the Left, Right on the Right and it was going to be a good day. Two Lefts. No good. Two Rights. Worse. Left sock on my right foot, right sock on my left, all hell was likely to break loose.

That has slowly morphed into me being very sure each morning that I get it right. Left on the Left. Right on the right. If I get out of sync with the laundry and can’t make them match, I just call in sick.

“They are moron socks,” said Regret this morning. “Only they aren’t just for morons, they turn you into one.”

Jump Points

I finally made it back to the spreadsheet…

I waited until it was very late at night. Just me and the coffee machine, and it wasn’t talking. I’d made a joke about the copier earlier that week and it seemed to be nursing a grudge.

After I carved my way through the forest of empty spider webs that filled like sails with stale air as I passed, I settled into Franz’s long abandoned chair and opened up the spreadsheet.

There were hundreds of tabs that I’d never opened. First I checked on Franz. His status hadn’t change. Still lost.

I picked one at random labeled ‘Jump Points.’ It seemed like a two by two matrix of cubical numbers, with a status applied to each row. Each one was marked ‘Inactive.’

I picked one at random, 19 | 23 and changed it to ‘Active’. It was Marc’s cube, 19, and the marketing girl’s, 23.

Had no idea what a jump point was, but around me waves of silverfish were crashing against the sheetrock and I decided that was as much as I could take. As much damage was safe to cause in one night, hit the KVM switch and ran for the door.

Back in the office, I walked past the empty cubicles and got a sullen cup of coffee from the machine. I sipped it a bit, then took a look at Marc’s cube, 19, to see what had changed. I didn’t notice anything immediately. Something was missing, I thought, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I went to the marketing girl’s cube. It was difficult but I resisted touching her chair, her other things, and it may have been this momentary struggle with myself that make it take me a few minutes to notice that she had Marc’s picture of his wife and 2.5 kids on her desk. I picked it up. It was icy cold.

I ran back to cube 19 and put it where I thought it had gone, in a corner of the cube, where Marc wouldn’t spill coffee on it, and a second later, it was gone again. Back in the marketing girl’s cube. Not cold, this time, but there were what looked like greasy fingerprints on the glass.

I cleaned it, put it a little ways away from the jump point, and grabbed for something else to put through. Marc’s desk was near the printer, so I took a ream of paper and put it where the picture had been.

Pop.

It took almost an hour for it to to make it back out. The pages were out of the wrapper, crumpled and stacked unevenly. The formerly pristine white pages where filled with words that looked like they’d been typed by an angry drunk with a junkyard typewriter. I got through enough pages to see that they were the collected works of shakespeare, and the pages smelled of zoo.

“You’re up to something,” said the coffee maker, as I turned off the lights. “Is this going to end well?”
“Not yours to reason why,” I answered, locking the door behind me.

 

***
At work the next day I waited to see if anyone would accidentally trip the jump. While I was waiting, I started to think I’d made a mistake. Marc’s a big guy, and the jump point was a fairly precise area of the cube, one that he’s be unlikely to press himself into by accident.

It took a few days till it happened.

Finally just after lunch, Marc must have reached for one of the pens I littered around the jump point, and with a slightly audible ‘pop’ he was gone.

I rushed to cube 23 too see if he reappeared, but there was nothing.
“What do you need?” Asked the marketing girl.
“Nothing,” I muttered, heading back to my office.

About 20 minutes later, the phones all started ringing, one after the other. When I picked mine up there was just the sound of wind, and maybe chimes in the distance, or maybe it was the sound of air whistling over the mouth of a bottle.

An hour after the last phone call Marc suddenly appeared again at cube 23, looking slightly bewildered. No one noticed. The marketing girl being busying yelling at a client. Marc went back to his own cube, staying far away from the jump point, and collected his things. I tried to talk to him, ask him what happened, but he looked right through me and walked towards the door.

He stopped by the coffee machine, whispered something to it, but I’m still not sure what he said.

The he walked out, and we haven’t seen him since. The new occupant of cube 19 hasn’t managed to trigger it yet, and I’ve more or less given up waiting for him to do it.

The coffee machine has never told me what Marc said. “Not yours to reason why,” is all I got, while it brewed a bitter expresso.

Explain Trump

“Hold on,” said Regret the cat, flicking his cigarette in the toilet. He giggled, stopped himself again. “Hold on, wait,” he shook himself all over, then flicked my toothbrush into the toilet as well. “Ok. Now I’m ready.”
“Goddamn it,” I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and tossed him gently into the hallway.
“Hold on,” he said, indulging in a little post toss grooming. “Wait, OK, I’m ready. Do it again.”
“Do what again?”
“Explain Trump to me. I can handle it this time.”

The Coffee Machine says that silence is not golden

I’ve been avoiding the machine since the christmas party. The night was mutually embarrassing for both of us.

“I would have expected,” it said yesterday, when I finally decided to stick around with my Kona Gold and listen to it. “I would have expected that it would be a bonding moment. That we could have commiserated, shared our status as despised outsiders, and come to the conclusion that both the copier, and the girl from marketing, whatever the hell her name is, are both lesbians.”

“They must be,” I mumbled into my coffee.

“Right. Why else would they turn us down?”

Invisible Cubicles – The Planning Company

Three whiskey sours into the evening Ray was starting to lather himself up into another story. I was eyeing a woman across the bar that I thought I recognized from my recent and failed attempt to interview at Google. I was pretty sure she was the HR woman who showed my into the interview room, the torture chamber where I spent the next few hours stretched out across a whiteboard, and brought me coffee. I thought she smiled at me. Rather, I know she smiled, but thought maybe she was actually being more than just polite.

Before I came to any conclusion, Ray started up, so I spent the next few minutes stealing glances while she stirred her martini and watched the door.

“Stop me if you’ve heard this one,” he said.
“Stop,” I said. I wanted to talk to the girl, but he plowed onwards.
“I once visited a company that fully embraced collaboration. When I first visited them everyone had their own office. The company was profitable and growing, and offices are an inefficient use of space. And anyway, collaboration was the fad then, so out with the offices, and everyone was herded into a wide open floor plan. Only the VPs and Directors had their own offices, but after a few more visits they were out on the floor too. It was good for collaboration, they said.
“The meeting rooms were next. ‘All meetings would benefit from the input of all stakeholders’, which pretty quickly became everyone. The entire company would grind to a halt as every meeting, no matter how trivial, became a free for all where every idiotic suggestion or petty grievance had to be treated with respect and reverence for the collaborative process.
“So pretty soon, nothing is getting done,” said Ray, rising unsteadily to his feet.
The girl, meanwhile, had finished her drink and was looking uncertain about ordering another. Someone, theoretically, could have walked up to her and bought her one right then. She might have even smiled at them.
“So things are going to shit, and everyone starts trying to ignore the meetings and get work done. Then the boss is pissed off because while the marketeers are debating the merits of san-serif fonts in email footers, the coders are trying to work, and while the coders are arguing about verbose method signatures, the analysts are pivoting their spreadsheets. So he put video cameras and monitors up, so that no matter which way you looked, you could see a screen of who was talking in the meeting. And he had the entire floor wired for sound, so that no-one could escape the voice of whoever was rattling on at the meeting.
“Last time I went, as they were finally running out of money, it was just the CEO and his department heads having a quarterly planning meeting that had run on for 18 weeks. All the employees had left for other jobs, but all the video cameras and microphones were still on. As the CEO and VPs argued over whether it was possible to ‘prove’ a business plan that was little more than throwing shit against the wall to see what stuck, their faces danced across a hundred screens, throwing shadows against a hundred empty desks.”

Ray stopped to barf his whiskey sour into a potted plant.

I looked up in time to see the girl walking out of the bar, alone. I could have caught up with her easy enough, but something must of made me stay.
Probably the thought that’d something rash like that, walking up to a girl that might have maybe smiled at me, would require more planning. Perhaps, I thought, pulling Ray away from the plant, I could schedule a meeting.

Regret has never tasted dog

Regret has never tasted dog

Regret has been after me to take him to China for the last week.

“They eat dog there?” It started when he ambushed me in the hallway after work a week ago, before I’d even kicked off my shoes. He’s almost like a normal cat in many ways. He’ll hide there, in the hallway behind the curtains, with only his twitching tail exposed. If he wasn’t smoking all the damn time he’d maybe pull off the ambush now and then.
As it is, the only frightening about his ambushes is the very real possibility that he’ll set the curtains on fire.
“They eat dogs? Why wasn’t I told about this?”
“There are many, many things you don’t know about.”
“What kinds of things? Never mind. Let’s stay focused,” he said, drawing on his cigarette again. He blew out a perfect smoke ring that hovered in the air between us a few seconds. We both watched as it dissolved.
“Dogs,” I said, heading for my bedroom.
“EATING dogs,” he said, following me into my my bathroom and flicking the expired cigarette into the sink, which he knows pisses me off.
“We aren’t going to China.” I said, trying to get out in front of him.
“Can’t we just go to Chinese restaurant?”
“No. They can’t serve it in the states. It isn’t humane.”
“Your definition of that word is different than mine. Have you ever meet a dog? They don’t factor into humane.”
“Any yet,” I said, “there it is.”
“We need to go to China.”
“The entire idea is ridiculous.”
“You mean to tell me,” he said, “You mean to tell me that given the chance, you wouldn’t eat the flesh of your enemy? That if someone killed that marketing VP, the one one you’re always complaining about, if they killed him, cooked him up, and brought some in for lunch one day, that you wouldn’t eat it? You wouldn’t even try a bite? A nibble?”
“No.”
“That’s where you and I are different,” he said, batting my toothbrush off the counter.
“You’re a fucking talking cat,” I say. “That’s where you and I are different.”
“And until you’re willing to eat your enemies, until then you’ll never amount to anything. Look at you, look at this place. It’s Friday night and you’re talking to your cat.”
I picked him up by the scruff of the neck and threw him out of the bathroom.

We spent the rest of the night playing cards. At around 4 in morning he paused, raking the cards towards him, and looked at the clock.
“Somewhere in China, a restaurant serving dog is opening.”
“Fuck off and go fish.”

The Coffee Machine’s advances towards the copier have not been well received

The marketing department has been in a bit of a frenzy the last few days. Ever since the weekend, the copier has been printing everything sent to it in shades of blue. Which is disturbing to them in several ways, not least of which is that the copier is not a color copier.

The Coffee Machine, meanwhile, has been sulking and unwilling to engage even in our usual morning banter. Tellingly, even at the mildest settings, any brew I select comes out bitter enough to crack teeth.

I find myself missing our morning chats. It’s telling that the absence of something that I’d frankly dreaded each morning would leave such a void in my life.