A special thanks to Laura for helping me edit this and keeping it real...
Today was one of those days when you keep hoping you'll wake up and realize it was all a dream. Just in case, let me pinch myself.
Nope, I'm awake.
It all started out innocently enough for a Friday. The alarm went off at six and I proceeded to do the three 'S's' of the morning, yelled up the steps for the kid to get up, and let my dog Jack out in the yard to do his one 'S'. I watched the news as I drank my coffee and then let Jack back in. At seven I dragged my kid to the car and took her to school.
It's been all downhill since then...
* * *
As I pulled into the company parking lot I noticed that someone had parked in my spot. The nerve of that jerk! How could they park in a spot marked 'Reserved Parking for Percival Sweetwalker'? I intended to make a scene out of this so I put my car in park and wandered over to the offending minivan. Looking through the driver's window I could see an assortment of snack wrappers littering the floor and passenger's seat.
'The jerks a slob too,' I thought. Then I noticed the sign. 'Reserved Parking for Frank Fuchs'.
"Fucks?" I muttered as I looked around making sure this was it. It was indeed my spot. I knew it perfectly right down to the cracks in the bricks on the side of the building. I knew who Frank was too. He was the asshole from accounting that kept breaking the copiers.
I got back in my car and drove around until I found my name in the furthest spot from the building. 'Somebody has got a lot of explaining to do...' I thought, as I walked a few hundred yards to the entrance.
Just as I cleared the metal detectors there was a general page made through the building.
"Sweetwalker, report to my office right now! You've got a lot of explaining to do!" bellowed Mr. Whipschmear, the company president.
I looked up at the security camera and knew he was watching. 'Thanks for sharing that with all seven hundred workers...'
"Sucks to be you," said a clerk as I entered the elevator and headed to the top floor.
As the elevator doors opened, Whipschmear's secretary motioned that I should go right in. "He's in a bad mood," she whispered as I passed her.
"Yeah, well so am..."
"Sweetwalker! Get in here!" shouted a voice from the other side of the door. Above it was another security camera pointed directly at me.
'Must be some kind of voyeur...' I thought as I entered.
"Sit down, Sweetwalker," he said.
As I sat across from him at his desk, I noticed a bank of video monitors that showed various areas of the building including a few employee restrooms. A woman was clearly visible in a stall. 'Yep, he's a voyeur...'
"How long have you been with the company, Sweetwalker?" he asked, turning the monitor with the woman away from my vision.
"Twenty one years, Sir," I replied proudly.
"And what is your position here?"
"I'm the head of 'Cost Analysis'", I replied.
"Notice anything different this morning besides that you were late?" he asked.
"Well, I was late because of what I noticed different. Someone moved my..."
"Correct! That's because you are no longer the head of that department."
I suddenly had a real bad feeling about this. "What?"
"That's right. Fuchs is now in charge."
I was in shock. 'How did that little prick wind up with my position?' "Sir, I don't understand."
"Do you know what this is?" he asked, holding up his mechanical pencil.
Not having a clue as to where he was going with this, I just nodded.
"Yep, it's a real beauty too. A top of the line refillable that takes 7mm replacement lead, both available at the office supply department on the third floor," he stated as he made a doodle on his legal pad in front of him. "Got this one about a year ago and it's served me well," he said, as he clipped it in his shirt pocket and tapped it a few times.
I just gawked at him waiting for him to continue.
"Oh, I notice you don't have one," he said, pointing to my shirt.
I looked down. Indeed I did not.
"I want you to take a look at this," he said, pulling a picture out from his desk drawer and handing it over. It was a picture of me heading out of the building through the metal detectors with yesterday's date stamped on it. The time notation was way after my shift had ended so he couldn't be accusing me of leaving early.
"Notice anything?" he asked, leaning back in his chair.
I looked harder at the picture. "Oh, my shoe's untied."
He tapped his shirt pocket.
I looked at the picture again but had no idea what he wanted me to see. He pulled out another picture that apparently was a blow up of the other that centered on the shirt pocket.
There were two pencils identical to his in my pocket.
"Where are they?" he asked.
I drew a blank. "I...I...suppose on my desk...my desk at home..."
"How about these?" he asked, tossing me another set of pictures from the day before coming in with no pencils and leaving with three in my pocket at the end of the day. "And these, and these, and these..." he said as he repeatedly tossed more pictures at me with more and more pencils in my pocket as I left but none as I came in. "You have any idea how much those things cost?"
I was totally embarrassed, exasperated, and at a loss as to what to say. I felt weak and light headed. I momentarily lost bladder control.
"I told you they were top of the line and only available to executives in the company. In bulk, they cost $3.21 each. In these pictures alone, you walked out with $67.41 worth of pencils."
I shifted in my seat feeling a bit moist in the shorts.
"Fuchs brought it to my attention that too much money was being spent on office supplies, namely pencils. Together we discovered the offender."
"But Sir, Fuchs is an ass..."
"Fuchs crunched some numbers for me. Want to know what he discovered?" asked Whipschmear as he rocked in his chair.
I was close to loss of sphincter control.
"Well, let's take a look. If you took two pencils a day, five days a week, fifty two weeks a year minus vacations, plus extra work on the weekends, times twenty one years, you owe the company $35,000.00," he stated, as he finished the multiplications on his calculator.
I lost all function control below my belt.
"So, unless you can bring back all the pencils you took, you'll have a new position in the company that is suited for your talents as well as having a good chunk of the salary garnished as reparation." He sniffed at the air. "Do you smell something?"
"No Sir. What is my new position?" I asked, adjusting in my slightly soiled seat.
"You're now the head of daytime janitorial duties and copier repair. You'll have a tough time sneaking out with cleaning supplies." He reached into his desk and produced a rather large pocket pager. "Take this, you'll need it." As I took it from him I noticed a red indicator light blinking away. "I sent out a company memo this morning on your new position and gave out the pager number. Looks like you've got a call already."
"But Sir, what am I supposed to do as a daytime janitor?"
"Well obviously you can't clean offices with people in them. Your services are more for fixing and cleaning up after toilet overflows." He glanced at one of his monitors and looked surprised. "Seems we have one already on the third floor. Of course there is the copier repair as well."
"Sir, I don't know how to fix copiers."
He pulled a six inch thick book from a drawer and chucked it at me. The title was 'So, You've Decided to be a Copier Repairman': or, I had twenty bucks but didn't know what to spend it on so I bought this book'.
"Now you do."
The pager beeped and the light was flashing frantically. There was a button on the side and I pushed it. "You have...forty two...new messages of which...forty one...are marked 'urgent'."
"How many people are in my department?" I asked, wanting this to end.
"Two. You and a guy I demoted yesterday that was stealing straws from the cafeteria. Now get going, but first find out what the stench is in here."
"Sir, I need to go home and change into attire that is more appropriate."
"Fine, just add the time to the end of the day," he said waving me out of the office.
I went out and hit the elevator button.
"What the hell is that smell?" asked his secretary.
"You have...forty three...new messages of which..."
* * *
As the elevator took me down, I realized I had a change of clothes in the trunk I was going to use for a trip to the gym following work. I doubted I was going to feel like doing bench presses later so I took a hike to the car, grabbed the clothes and hiked back.
When I returned, I asked the guard at the desk where my new 'office' was. He pointed to a door with a piece of poster board taped on it marked 'Toilet and Copier Repair'. "Thanks," I said, as I headed over to what used to be a janitorial supply closet. I opened a door and there was a young man that looked like a teenager sitting on a bucket with straws sticking out of his nose.
"I guess you're my assistant, huh?"
The kid jumped up and pulled the straws from his nose. "Yes Sir, I'm Darren Dagwood, at your service," he said, giving me a salute.
"At ease. What's with the straws?" I asked pointing at the recent nostril invaders.
"Up your nose?" I asked. That was a new one on me.
"No, I only do that when I can't shove them up my..."
"Alright. Alright," I said not wanting to hear anymore. "Get a mop and bucket ready. We have a lot of rounds to make," I said, holding up the pager.
"You have...fifty nine...new messages of which..."
I changed and did my best to hide the soiled jockeys.
"What's that smell?" asked Darren.
"Let's go," I mumbled.
* * *
Darren and I actually lucked out because half of the calls were for the same overflowing toilet. The bad part was it was one mighty stinky overflow. Darren spent half the time cleaning up his own puke. Speaking of which, I had several piles to clean up in the cafeteria after they decided to substitute halibut parmesan for the standard Friday fare. The thing is, I have no idea how they managed to make it look just like beef-a-roni.
By the time five o'clock rolled around, Darren and I managed to clear out all the messages and made our way to the 'office' to put our equipment away. In the close quarters of the room I couldn't decide what reeked worse; the clothes I had on or the ones that I soiled in Whipschmears's office. Well, I guess I did have virtually every type of human excretion on me somewhere. Actually I may have had them all because the last overflowed men's room stall I cleaned I backed into something sticky on the door.
"Well Sir, it was nice working with you today," said Dagwood as he stuck a few straws in his nose and left. I dumped my bucket in the sink and headed out when the pager went off.
"You have...one...new message...in which...one...is marked 'urgent'."
I hit the button to retrieve the message and a voice I had heard before came on. It was Fuchs.
"Hey, Sweetwalker, the copier on twelve just died. Let's go pencilhead!"
* * *
I finally managed to unjam the copier that Fuchs fucked up and headed home around eight o'clock. By then my clothes had dried and were as stiff as cardboard. All I wanted to do was get a shower and get something to eat, preferably something other than fish parmesan. I walked up to the front door, unlocked it and entered. There in the middle of the living room floor was a present from my dog Jack and a mighty present it was rising majestically nearly six inches from the carpet. The saddest part about that moment was that I didn't even smell it. My own stench was drowning it out.
"Priscilla?" I yelled up the stairs for my daughter. "Priscilla, why is there a pile of dog shit the size of a Studebaker on the floor down here? Don't you know how to let the dog out?"
There was no response.
That's when I noticed that Jack was sleeping on the forbidden sofa. He lifted his head and looked at me like I should keep my voice down while he was resting.
"What's that?" I asked him, pointing to the mammoth pile on the carpet.
He yawned, jumped off the couch, and waddled over to his gift to the world and sniffed it. Then he lifted his head to look at me and wagged his tale.
"What, are you proud of it or something? Look at that!" I said, trying to reason with him. "Did you eat a whole bag of Dog Chow or something?"
He started sniffing my clothes and lifted his leg.
"Oh no you don't!" I said, grabbing him by the collar and ushering him out into the back yard.
"Priscilla!" I shouted up the stairs again. Well, it was Friday night. She was probably at the mall with her friends. Since her Mother left six years ago, she's gone from 'My Little Girl' to a full grown sixteen-year-old. Damn, they grow up fast!
As I entered the kitchen to get the cleaning stuff, I noticed that Jack had also been garbage hunting. The can had been full that morning and the kid was supposed to empty it on the way out to school today. When I dragged her out this morning I completely forgot about it.
It was empty now alright.
I waded through the trash until I could get to the sink and the cleaning supplies underneath. Thirty minutes later the floor in the kitchen was clean and the pyramid in the living room was removed.
I decided it was time for a shower but I wanted to know where Priscilla was. I called the cell phone I let her use. It rang three times. Then she answered.
"Oh, hi Dad, what's up?"
"Where are you?"
"I'm at the mall...will you stop that!...I'm staying at Kim's tonight, okay?"
"Did you eat, honey?"
"Yeah, I'm fine...will you stop it!...I'll see you tomorrow afternoon."
"What's going on?" I asked as the line went dead.
Well at least she was having a good time. I shucked my clothes and got in the shower. I turned on the water and shivered as I waited for the hot water to work its way from the heater to the spigot.
When I waited long enough for my balls to turn blue I turned the water off and headed to the hot water closet. The red trip light was on. I hit the reset button and it sputtered and spit but the thing wouldn't come on. I memorized the emergency number that was on it and dripped my way to the kitchen to call them.
"Could someone be home somewhere between eight am Monday and six pm Wednesday?" Yeah, someone could if I wanted to keep the kid home from school or resign from my new position.
I got back in the shower and froze my ass off.
Afterward I grabbed a robe and headed to the fridge. Somewhere in the twenty-four hours since the last time I had opened it, the thing got stuck on defrost. The blast of hot air and smell of sour milk that accosted me as I opened the door ensured that I would be calling out tonight. I checked my wallet for cash and found five bucks. The kid must have scalped me when I wasn't looking.
Maybe I would have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead.
I went to the cupboard and found a post-it note stuck there in Priscilla's handwriting.
"Shopping list: Cereal, tuna, peanut butter, jelly, bread, milk, eggs, pasta, rice, potatoes, soda..."
I looked at the time and it was nearly eleven. I decided to skip dinner and headed into the den to check my e-mail. As I booted up the computer a naked Elvis started dancing across the monitor and sang a song about how all my files were being erased from the hard drive. '...I'm all shook up...' I watched as one by one, all the icons disappeared off my desktop. When the song ended, the computer shut off. After that, all I got was a blue screen when I booted the thing. All my files and pictures of my kid stored there were gone. Shit!
I went into the living room and turned on the TV, hoping to find something I wanted to watch, but it was a bad night. Everything that looked interesting I had already seen. I went to the video case and pulled out my favorite movie and popped it into the VCR, and flopped down on Jack's forbidden sofa.
I got back up and pushed the buttons again and the tape ejected. I pulled it out of the machine and a long stream of tape came with it. Somewhere, the ends of the tape were hopelessly snarled inside the mechanism. Gingerly I tried to coax the tape out of the jaws of the thing, but it wouldn't let go. After fifteen minutes of this, I decided to go ahead and snap the tape. I could always tape the ends back together. As I fiddled with it, I dropped the cassette itself and it shattered on the floor, spilling tape all over the rug.
"Looks like Dorothy's going to be stuck in Oz a lot longer than she planned," I groused to myself.
I went to my bookcase and pulled one out that I had read sometime before. I went to my room to read in bed when I noticed an odor. My nose had been accosted enough during the day to cancel out many things, but I knew what this stink was.
The cat sprayed something in the room.
I looked around sniffing this and that and found that she had gotten both my spread and pillows. I pulled both off the bed and tossed them out into the garage to be dealt with later, but when I went back to the room to read, the smell was still strong in the air. I couldn't take it.
I went back out into the living room, let Jack back in and decided to sleep on the couch. I laid down and closed my eyes. The cat jumped up and curled beside me. Jack laid next to the couch under my dangling arm.
God, this day sucked. My stomach growled as I pushed all the crap that happened today out of my mind and allowed myself to believe that everything would work out tomorrow. As my pets purred and snored next to me, I fell asleep.
The phone rang. I answered it.
"Hello, Dad? I'm at the police station..."