Dispatches from an Embedded Office Worker

Joe Lavin's Humor Column

Dispatches from an Embedded Office Worker

April 29, 2003

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9:05 a.m.

Wolf, I'm reporting live from my embedded position within a company whose name I cannot mention. It is a historic day indeed, as I am the first reporter ever to be embedded with office workers. This extraordinary access will finally allow us to see what it is like to be a normal person with a normal job. The grunts have slowly begun to arrive. Coffee is being poured. Computers are being turned on. And already inane conversation about the weather is taking place around the water cooler. This is the real thing. This is what it's like to be an office worker.

10:30 a.m.

Wolf, we are hearing unsubstantiated reports that there may be free doughnut holes left over from a meeting in the 8th floor conference room. As you can imagine, the workers are rushing to the scene. Some are taking elevators. Others are not taking any chances and have elected to use the stairs. The mood here is of guarded optimism. Earlier reports of bagels on the sixth floor turned out to be false, but the workers are hoping that this one comes true.

10:47 a.m.

Not only doughnut holes, but full doughnuts! Wolf, this is the jackpot! I'm reporting live from the 8th floor conference room, where the doughnuts are just about gone. Still, latecomers are straggling in, and there have been some reports of looting at nearby desks. We also had our first confirmed casualty of the day when Sam from accounting strained his oblique muscle while reaching for the last jelly doughnut.

12:15 p.m.

I'm now in the closet of the 2nd floor conference room where the weekly staff meeting is happening. Forgive the whispering and our use of the night scope lens, but we are not allowed to interrupt the meeting, as much as the participants may want us to. The meeting now has lasted over one hour and fifteen minutes. Still to come: an assessment of strategic initiatives for the coming fiscal year by the vice president for implementation management and a presentation of something called the expense forecast matrix. Sadly, there is no end in sight, and I can tell from my vantage point that morale is definitely low.

2:45 p.m.

Wolf, I am happy to report that a new minesweeper record has been set. Rebecca in payroll has just broken her old mark of 172 seconds by a full ten seconds. Satisfied with her successful game, she has returned to her normal routine of playing computer solitaire and instant messaging her friends. There are now just a little over two hours left in the day, and she tells me that she thinks she can make it.

3:40 p.m.

Henderson is going to quit. It may not be today. It may not even be this month, but I can see it in his eyes, a certain defeated look revealing that the game is up. We heard rumors that his supervisor was planning to use shock and awe during his semi-annual performance review, and the tactic seems to have worked. As I watch him sitting in his cubicle several yards from any window, it is now all too obvious that his request for a raise has not met with success.

4:30 p.m.

The day is almost over, and some are getting ready to leave early. Technically, they are not supposed to leave until five o'clock, but as their supervisor is working from home today, several are planning to risk it. They believe they can get to the stairs on the east corridor without being seen, and then it's just a matter of hoping nobody important is coming up the stairs. My crew and I will accompany them. It's a risky operation, but, as embedded journalists, we feel obligated to join them. If we can just make it out into the sunlight, it will all be worth it. Wolf, back to you.

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