A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 4 – Orientation

A year ago, for the month of June, I wrote about an online short story each day for the month. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.

Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year.

Today’s story, for day Four – Orientation, by Daniel Orozco.

Read it online, here:

Orientation: A Short Story by Daniel Orozco

I remember when my kids were little I told them to watch a certain movie – because it had great wisdom to pass on to their growing and impressionable brains. The movie was Office Space – and I was proud of my fatherly wisdom in getting them educated in the ways of the world.

When the movie was over my son said to me, “Jeez Dad, you are so lucky that you don’t have a job like that.”

“Of course I do,” I said to him, “as a matter of fact, everybody has a job like that.”

There is truly great truth and wisdom in Office Space. I’m not talking about the romance where the nerdy guy ends up with Jennifer Aniston – that never happens. And I’m not talking about the part of the plot where they put in a virus and steal tiny bits of pennies on every transaction – that never…. well, actually it did happen – but that’s not important.

I’m talking about the TPS reports. Life is all about how you deal with the TPS reports and the humiliation that comes with having to fill them out.

As a matter of fact, in real life the TPS reports aren’t important – they are sort of a workplace MacGuffin – it’s really about the humiliation, pure and simple. Being humiliated in front of your “superiors” is the only profitable activity in the workforce that can’t be automated or outsourced.

Once you get to the point where your self-respect is a forgotten ghost of the past, your dreams have been ground to dust, and you are willing to do whatever degrading abasement is required to get through the day… you discover there is good money in that.

And that brings us to today’s story, Orientation. In it a new employee, you, is getting the introduction to a new job with your workspace, and most importantly, your cow-orkers.

The office is, of course, a horribly dehumanizing place. But the cow-orkers are all all too human. Everybody has a passionate crush on everybody else – though never reciprocally – so the place becomes a vicious circle of unrequited desire and lust.

Everybody has their quirks – from hiding in the ladies room now and then to an actual serial killer. These are open secrets, though nobody ever talks about them. Except during orientation.

It’s ultimately an uplifting story. Flawed humanity oozes up through the sea of cubicles like a flawed template through a Powerpoint Presentation.

Those are the offices and these are the cubicles. That’s my cubicle there, and this is your cubicle. This is your phone. Never answer your phone. Let the Voicemail System answer it. This is your Voicemail System Manual. There are no personal phone calls allowed. We do, however, allow for emergencies. If you must make an emergency phone call, ask your supervisor first. If you can’t find your supervisor, ask Phillip Spiers, who sits over there. He’ll check with Clarissa Nicks, who sits over there. If you make an emergency phone call without asking, you may be let go.These are your in- and out-boxes. All the forms in your inbox must be logged in by the date shown in the upper- left- hand corner, initialed by you in the upper-right-hand corner, and distributed to the Processing Analyst whose name is numerically coded in the lower-left-hand corner. The lower-right-hand corner is left blank. Here’s your Processing Analyst Numerical Code Index. And here’s your Forms Processing Procedures Manual.

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One response to “A Month of Short Stories 2014, Day 4 – Orientation

  1. AAAARRRRRGGGHHHH!!! Sounds so dehumanizing, so infuriating…and so familiar. After just a few years working in government I was inspired to write about escaping from cube world, and that’s just what my main character does. If you’re interested, you can read the first chapter here: http://jfhussey.com/the-4-hour-novel/. Book comes out next month. Hope you like the sneak peek! Cheers,
    John Hussey

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