Posts Tagged ‘clerk’

Week of 5/18/11

Prompt:

There was a pause in the very breathing of the clerks.

“I’m telling you, son, that is not the way that we do things here,” Irwin said. “We file contraptions under “C” just like anything else that begins with that letter.”

There was a pause in the very breathing of the clerks. They all looked at one another, and at that moment, shared a common understanding of just how miserable it could be to come down on Irwin’s bad side. Although content that the ire of their oppressive boss was not currently directed at them, they still felt a pang of pity for the new guy.

Bertie looked down at the drawing on his desk. It wasn’t a contraption. It was elegant and deserved to be recognized. He was convinced that he had conceived of something very similar at one time, perhaps when he was having his morning constitutional.

But Bertie was no fool. He had only recently taken this job and it was a good way for him to pay his bills and do his work on the side. His boss had been nothing if not belligerent since he had walked through the doors this morning. Since it was only his second day, Bertie thought again about his position. Unfortunately, as it always did, logic prevailed.

As he held up the drawing, the other clerks winced and sank back into their chairs.

“This is not a contraption, sir, just look at it!” Bertie waved the paper at his boss. “I am sorry, sir, but this idea deserves to be reclassified, or reexamined or whatever it is that we do when ideas are overlooked.”

There was a vacuum as the other clerks inhaled what air there was in the room. None of them ever talked back to Irwin or questioned his methods. They all did what they were told, every day, and never tried to make theirs lives anymore difficult than it had to be.

Irwin took a step toward his new hire, the one that he had told the main office that he didn’t need, that his office was overstaffed as it was, but the Office of Standardized Bureaucracy was insistent. He took another step and as he did so, he kept his eyes locked onto his subordinate’s, like a hawk about to swoop out of the sky on an unsuspecting field mouse.

“Overlooked?” Irwin asked. “Impossible! My system is impeccable; it has worked for nearly a decade now, flawlessly. How entertaining that you see yourself as able to question my protocol. I am humored.”

Irwin stared down at the thick head of wavy hair, perfectly combed and as dark as a wooden shoe. He looked into the sad yet inquisitive eyes. He wanted to slap the smug look off the young man’s face. He felt his shoulder tighten as he reflexively readied himself.

“Just have a look at it,” Bertie said. “It is all that I ask. If you think that for some reason this does not warrant a reclassification, then so be it. I will not mention the matter further.”

Irwin’s eye twitched as he held back his authority. He snatched the paper from the young man’s hand instead of doing what he knew was right. He kept it at arms length while looking down his nose at the document.

After several moments he spoke.

“Yes, this I remember…what have we here? A glass surface, a flat glass surface, and nothing more,” Irwin said. “How is this, this machine supposed to operate? What source of power will it utilize? This technology is strictly science fiction, plain and simple! The classification stands!”

“I’m telling you, all things in the future will be touch screen,” Bertie said.

Irwin scoffed.

“Touch screen? That is precisely my point: what is a touch screen, and why does it need to exist?”

He tossed the paper back at his underling and as Bertie reached out to catch it, Irwin slapped the man with a good stiff hand. Bertie fell from his chair and crumpled to the floor like a sack of dead cats.

Irwin looked down into the stunned face of his new worker and saw that the man now understood his place. Irwin also noticed a small folded piece of paper that had fallen out of Bertie’s tweed jacket. He stooped and picked it up. He examined it for a moment before handing it back to Bertie.

“And what is this supposed to mean?” Irwin said. ”E equals mick two? Is this some sort of joke?”

Bertie felt his jaw to make sure that he didn’t lose any teeth. His vision was blurry.

“It is something that I am working on that will better help to explain the world around us,” Bertie replied.

At that moment Irwin recognized a quality in his new hire that made his heart soften– ever so slightly– for the man. It was delusion.

“Is that so?” Irwin said. He smiled inwardly. Bertie would be around for a long time yet, Irwin just knew it. He decided to cut the new man some slack; say something positive to keep his young spirits up.

”Your hair. I like it better this way,” Irwin said. “ It makes you appear more convincing.”

Bertie knew that his days at his new job were numbered.