Quit Your Day Job – A Short Story By: Packy Smith
Jim sat at his desk, despondent, listless, staring at a liquid crystal display that felt more or less the same as he did. They were both stuck in the same place doing a job they didn’t want to do. Jim was uncertain as to what he would like to do, he had so many ideas, but lacked the impetus to see them through. The LCD Monitor did not have this same problem, it wanted to maintain a garden and grow pretty flowers and exotic plants for a blog it was hoping to start soon, it just lacked the necessary body to do so, however a plan was in motion and the LCD Monitor was sure it would have a solution soon.
They worked at Labor Panacea, a multi faceted HR outsourcing & PEO service company. A backward thinking company, they did not offer basic amenities even though they turned an obnoxiously large profit each year for 17 years straight. They were notorious for denying their employees basic things such as: health benefits, direct deposit, or incentive based pay increases. Jim had been there for 11 years, and inflation alone had ensured that the average office worker in the workforce outside of Labor Panacea was making way more than he was. Labor Panacea didn’t care, business was good and the warm bodies at the various desks were all replaceable.
Jim was a timid soul. Not one to rock the boat, he would repeatedly get stepped on by his managers and coworkers alike. It was not unusual for Jim (whilst on salary and without the possibility of receiving overtime pay) to work a 60+ hour work week to do other people’s jobs. The first one in the door in the morning and the last to lock up at night, no one else had a key to the office because Jim always had it covered. Rather than say anything to anyone, the shy and diffident Jim just sat at his desk like a husk, staring at the monitor waiting for the rest of his body to start initiating a work-like behavior. Sometimes that happened quickly, other times it could take hours. No one seemed to notice, and even though he had a proclivity to space out, Jim still accomplished more work than anyone else.
There was a report due today. Jim’s manager, Brian, was responsible for it, but had delegated it to Jim on the basis that it would require him to work, or think, or actually do anything besides watch Netflix on his iPad all day. Jim normally turned this report in to Brian at or around 12 PM on this day each week, so that it could be used for a manager’s meeting that transpired at 2 PM. It was 12:23 PM and the report was not complete, in fact it had not even been started yet. Jim was acutely aware of the time table necessary to accomplish this report and knew that if it was going to get done that he needed to start on it immediately. That being noted, Jim did nothing of the sort.
5 minutes passed, and then Brian approached Jim’s cubicle. “Hey Jim-Bob, how’s that report coming?” Brian asked without making eye contact.
Jim clicked the left button on his mouse and a report popped up on the screen. “Just running a bit behind,” Jim replied nonchalantly while giving Brian the finger.
“Thanks champ, love you buddy,” Brian said as he popped Jim on the back of the head. Funnily enough, Brian didn’t assault Jim because of the errant bird thrown his direction (which he didn’t see because he wouldn’t be caught dead actually looking at Jim), he did it because he is a Grade-A prime choice cut of douche-nozzle.
Brian scampered away and Jim was left alone with his beloved cyborg body plotting LCD monitor to reason out a plan of action. He knew something needed to be done, and had a few ideas but wasn’t sure which one he wanted to do. The iniquity of Labor Panacea was the Aveeno that Jim bathed in on a daily basis, and it was time to do something about that. The problem proved to be quite the adversary, you see Jim had the same hang ups about everything. He had a ton of ideas of how to do everything, but he had neither the drive nor the ambition, not even a half a percent of the courage necessary to see any one plan through. He was stuck in a thought cycle: think, concoct, throw away, repeat.
It was now 1:09 PM and absolutely no progress had been made on the report, nor any other plan to distort, obfuscate, or otherwise sabotage said report. Time was ticking down in record fashion. The pressure was on and Jim hated it. Sweat poured off his forehead, goosebumps plagued his arms and legs, and his left eye started to twitch. His fight or flight instinct was heavily steeped towards flight, but in this rare case he was inclined to fight. To encourage others around him to stand up for their rights. To be a symbol, a beacon of truth, justice and the way. Jim wanted to be the hero that Labor Panacea needed, if not the one it deserved.
Brian popped back by to check on Jim’s progress. “Got this turkey ready to serve, Jimmy-Sue?” He inquired.
“Just about al dente, sir,” Jim fired back with an unusual amount of confidence. “Just putting the finishing touches on it right now. I’ll bring it you in the meeting.”
This answer baffled Brian, almost enough to look at Jim, but not quite that much. “It better look amazing, fruitcake,” Brain snarked as he attempted to pop Jim on the back of the head again. Yet no blow landed, as Jim was in the zone and anticipated the volley of fingers that were heading in his direction and he altered the course of his head appropriately to avoid the usual punishment. Brian didn’t even look back, he just chalked it up to random luck. He was bound to miss every once in a blue moon, he thought as he headed back to his busy job of doing nothing.
Jim was typing and mouse clicking like a man possessed. An idea had been formulated and was now being synthesized into a finished product. It would be a work of beauty, an accomplishment for the ages… so much so that even the LCD Monitor took notice. This would be a report so right and true that it would be framed and displayed at the Smithsonian for generations of humans to marvel at. The sweat, goosebumps and eye twitches were gone, and soon Jim would execute his master stroke. Jim lifted his hands off of the keyboard and mouse and yelled, “HA!” as he gazed upon the finished product. He hit the print option and made sure to make a copy for all of the managers. With fresh report copies in hand, Jim made his way to the office with a couple of minutes to spare.
It was 1:59 PM when Jim entered the conference room to the meeting. All of the managers were there having petulant conversations about being poor examples of the human condition. Mark, manager of sales was talking at length about his golf game and the joys of one night stands. Tina, the HR manager was rolling her eyes at Mark but then talking to Brian about hooking up at the club with a variety of men and women. Brian, manager of douche-baggery (seriously, know one actual knew what his official title was) laughed at everyone’s stories and then told everyone about his timeshare and some other money draining scheme he had gotten suckered into. Albert, head of IT said nothing. This was likely because Albert came to work 45 minutes late every day, took a 2 hour lunch every day, and left an hour early every day, effectively only working 4 hours and 15 minutes every 8 hours of work per day. Al was looking to keep flying under that radar for as long as humanly possible. Finally, there was Keith, the office manager who’s only reliable skill was cheating. Cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes, cheating the employees out of their bonuses, it didn’t matter how the cheating occurred, just that if it could occur, Keith was behind it 110%. As such, Keith didn’t say anything either, he just cataloged all of the information that was being passed via these incriminating conversations and holding onto them for a later date, when he could use them as leverage to get whatever it is he wanted at that time.
Jim apologized for coming into the room, and began handing out the reports. Keith immediately noticed something off about the report and asked, “hey Brian, what in the hell is wrong with this report? The copy boy here brought the wrong one, I think.”
Brian gazed down at the report and went pale. This in fact was not the normal report. Indeed, this was a document that utilized a clip art of a hand flipping the bird, with the size of the lifted finger indicating on a chart how useless each member of the management staff was. Underneath the main graph page was multiple pages of both qualitative and quantitative analysis, each separated into their own sections, explaining everything any of the present managers had ever done wrong in Jim’s time at Labor Panacea. This report was a work of art, with loving strokes of good design elements, subtle hints of minute details that seemingly know one should know, and a whole lot of TMI that exposed a variety of inter-office trysts and scandals. The managers all started to freak out and yell at each other aimlessly.
Jim cleared his throat obnoxiously until he had everyone’s attention. “Hello, I’m Jim from accounts management,” he started. “I brought you all this report to help illuminate the ceaseless corruption and chicanery that is happening in this office. I don’t expect anything to change because of it. A leopard can’t change it’s spots, and neither can either of you. Mark will die of an STD while swinging a 9 iron on the back 9. Tina will too, but not playing golf, at home, alone, because if all you ever do is hook up with random people every week, well then you really don’t have any friends at all, do you? Brian will die a penniless bozo unable to pee properly unless someone else is holding his pecker… I job that I will not do, and would not envy the poor soul who has to. Albert will die in a car wreck during business hours, but since he skips nearly half a day every day anyway, no one will miss him. I mean come on Al, it’s bad enough that you hardly come to work, but you can’t even fix a computer even when you are here, am I right? And Keith, your wife is going to kill you because she totally knows so much more than you think she does, that is if the rest of the employees don’t after they find out that you’ve been embezzling their bonus funds. You know, the bonus that you said that we didn’t achieve, but the P&L’s show that we actually did. Oh, wait! I guess they did just find out.”
What the managers didn’t know, was that while they were cavorting about like a bunch of jackasses before the meeting started, Jim had pressed the “intercom” button on the phone on the conference table and had dialed the three little numbers necessary to broadcast this whole little dialogue to every single person in the office.
Jim grabbed a pair of scissors off of the table, as the managers all looked on with fear, and he cut his neck tie in half. Slamming the dislodged half onto the table, he swiped a nearby stapler and proceeded to violently staple the tie to the table. “I quit!” He hollered as threw the stapler back onto the table. Just as he was about to walk out, he snagged the office key out of his pocket and used the table to snap the key in half. And with that he left the conference room.
“Was that the only key to the office?” Keith inquired.
“I think so,” Brian replied.
“How do we get a new key?” Keith fired back.
“I don’t know, ask Jim.” Brian answered.
“There’s got to be a policy in place to get a new key,” Tina added. “Who knows where the policy binder is?”
“I have no idea, Jim always knew that kind of stuff,” Brian stated.
“Well, get him back!” Keith ordered.
A large crashing sound was heard by the managers as they looked out the conference room to see that Jim had upended his cubicle. With an LCD monitor in hand Jim said, “I’m taking this, he has a blog to write and a body to create and I won’t let you oppress him any longer!”
“I don’t think he’s coming back,” Brian muttered.
“Did he just assume that monitor’s gender?” Tina deadpanned.
And like that Jim was gone, but a funny thing happened mere moments after he left. Two thirds of the employees came in to the conference room and stapled their freshly cut tie, high heel, lanyard, and other various articles to the desk as they too quit their job. By the end of this mass exodus the table looked like a modern art masterpiece.
Jim sat at home satisfied. He had made a plan, stuck to it, and in seeing it completed, he felt a joy like he never had before. Immediately, he placed a copy of the report into a large mailing envelope and addressed it to the Smithsonian. Who knows, he thought, perhaps one day this document will be as famous as the Declaration of Independence, and wouldn’t that be a hell of a thing.