Pleasant Pastimes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
An office man takes pleasure in giving each of his coworkers secret nicknames which summarize their worst quality. A little scare makes him reevaluate his own nickname.

Submitted: July 25, 2016

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Submitted: July 25, 2016

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Ross looked down at his own list of bullet points to have been included in the memo to the roofing company. He knew them well, had written them himself. He turned his attention to the actual memo, written up by {Woeful Incompetence}. The list was on the second page. The important one to include was the reimbursement for the botched insulation. That’s the one that had to be on the memo.

He scanned the list of items.

He scanned the list of items again.

It wasn’t there, no mention of insulation, not even a vague allusion to “further reimbursements due to inadequate workmanship”.

Ross removed his glasses, pressed his palms into his eye sockets, made his hourly plea to the Higher Power to save him, deliver him from the complete imbeciles of his work place. He could hear them all through the thin dividers of the office, hear them like a colony of ants marching through the walls. He could hear the soft murmurs as they interacted with each other, made imbecilic small talk, made moronic jokes, avoided doing work at all cost. Some of them Ross knew with surety did no work on the average work day. During the three years Ross had been with the company, he had entered Rick’s ({ADD}) cubicle five times, and each of those times, {ADD} had quickly minimized his web browser, a fraction of a second after Ross had caught sight of a picture of a topless model rolling around on a sandy beach. The web browser was quickly replaced by an Excel spreadsheet, followed by {ADD} leaning back in his chair, swinging around to face Ross, heaving a sign of exhausted fatigue brought on by the sheer amount of Herculean effort that he always put towards his job.

What bullshit.

From the moment Ross entered the building at 7:45 in the morning to when he left at 6:00, he worked, did what he was being paid to do. Never did he falter from his duties, as he reasoned that doing anything other than work while on the clock, when you had an hourly wage, was basically theft. Ross held high moral standards.

Perhaps the only amusing distraction he partook in started a few months ago, when he began labeling each and every one of his coworkers with their most annoying quality.

For example, Rick-who-was-always-looking-at-softcore-pornography was {ADD}. Ross’s two neighbors on his left and right were {Loud Chewer} and {Early Onset of Dementia}. The former caused him particular grief every lunchtime, when he would unpack his soggy roast beef sandwich, peel back his lips like a horse, and dig in, broadcasting each chomp to the entire office. Also, to the credit of his superiors, they were certainly holding the OUT door open for {Early Onset of Dementia}, who was now almost the least productive employee.

Almost.

{Manic Depression} won that honorable distinction. Not a day went by when Ross was not the recipient of {Manic Depression}’s wave of moaning on the hardships of life. He was set up in the cubicle directly across from Ross, and so Ross was his most natural confidant, although he spoke so loudly when on one of his rants that the whole office could hear.

There was a plethora of other lunatics in the office—{Loud Mouth}, {Sexual Harasser}, {Brown Noser}—Ross had painstakingly labeled each of his coworkers, never using the same name twice, a project which had taken almost three weeks. He simply worked in a place full of crazies.

In fact, as far as Ross could make out, the only normal person in the whole place was Ross himself. Well, that wasn’t quite true. Ross had come up with a problem of his own, a cute little thing which he would sometimes complain about to his fellow coworkers (when they weren’t busy chewing his ear off). His label was {Mild OCD}. What could he say? He liked things to be neat and perfect, was that such a crime?

That’s why this memo was giving him a migraine. He hadn’t expected anything else, however, coming from the office secretary, {Woeful Incompetence}. She had completely omitted the inclusion of the reimbursement of the installed insulation. He’d have to go back and add it in himself. What a nuisance.

He scanned the bullet points a third time, just to be sure.

Oh yeah there it was.

Rudolph’s Insulation Co., who have been held accountable for the deterioration and ultimate failing of the Johnson’s roof, have been asked to provide a full refund etc. etc.

How could he have missed that? Ross frowned down at the memo. It was right there, clear as day.

His eyes just weren’t what they used to be. Started playing tricks on him. He could have sworn that bullet point hadn’t been there the first two times he scanned the list.

Oh well. What could you do? Failing eyesight wasn’t the worst thing in the world, only an ignoramus could blame you for it. It wasn’t like {Failing Hearing}, who worked three cubicles down, and who was possibly the most irritating person on the entire floor. JUST BUY AN EFFING HEARINGAID ALREADY, YOU EFFING BALLSACK, you just wanted to scream in his face.

But who could get annoyed with poor vision? That was no fault of Ross’s.

It was 11:30, which meant it was time for him to make his second trip to the break room for a cup of coffee. Ross only allowed himself two trips to get coffee before lunchtime, unlike {Perpetual Coffee Break}, who basically lived in the break room.

Ross placed the roofing memo on his desk and strolled down the hall, peering into people’s cubicles to see how well they were conforming to their nicknames.

They were all perfect. {ADD} was even looking at the model rolling in the sand again.

Perfect.

And then Ross passed by the window looking out into the parking lot, and he stopped dead in his tracks.

His head jerked around looking back down the hallway, face turning red, looking for anyone else who may be looking out the windows. He took off his glasses, polished them on his shirt, replaced them, cautiously looked out the window.

The office building where Ross worked shared a parking lot with a little water ice shack named Mario’s Italian Ice. Mario’s had a sign placed next to the road with a picture of, presumably, Mario, who was wearing a bathing suit and sunglasses and grinning out at the passing cars from under his mustache.

Under his picture, they advertised new flavors and other water ice related news, such as “COME CHILL OUT WITH OUR NEW AVOCADO SLUSHY”, or “HOTTEST WEEK OF THE SUMMER! BEAT THE HEAT AT MARIO’S”.

But today, the letters on the sign didn’t have anything to do with water ice or the summer heat.

Today, they read: “ROSS GAINSLEY IS AN EGOTISTICAL DOUCHEBAG WITH A POLE STUCK UP HIS ASS”.

Panic mode was setting in as Ross gaped out the window. He could feel his blood-pressure rising as he stood rooted, staring at the message being blazed to the world, at the onset of lunchtime traffic passing by the sign, and Mario’s gleaming face.

Who had done this, orchestrated this horrible joke? It must have been {Insufferable Prankster}, that’s the only one that made any sense, but then again {Uncontrollable Flatulence} had always had a thing against Ross, and he was also a good friend of Mario himself, and could easily have persuaded him to go along with the prank. Something must be done at once. Ross began going over the locations of the nearest fire alarms. Perhaps he could… no, no, of course not, that would make everyone go outside, with nothing better to look at than the sign!

In mounting horror, he looked out at the sign a third time.

The letters were introducing a new flavor of gelato. No mention of Ross or the pole stuck up his ass.

He exhaled in relief. Just his eyes playing tricks on him again.

He needed to calm down a bit. He started back to his cubicle, coffee forgotten. The last thing he needed now was extra stimulation. He patted his damp forehead with his sleeve. {Annoying Thermostat Adjuster} must have turned off the AC again.

{Loud Chewer} bobbed his head out of his cubicle.

“Hey Ross, how’s the pole up your ass doing today?”

What?

“The roofing memo, is it ready yet?”

“Oh, right. Yes, it’s just about done. I’ll have it to you by lunch.”

{Loud Chewer} thumbs-upped Ross and rolled back to his computer.

Ross stumbled into his cubicle and slumped at his desk. He looked blankly at the memo for a few minutes, and then did something he had never done in his entire working career.

He took a half day.

Just got up and walked out.

He took a cold shower, got to bed early, came into the office at quarter to eight the next morning, just like he always did. Life continued, and his eyes played tricks on him only occasionally.

As people were hired or relocated to his office, he continued at the nickname game as a pleasant pastime. He usually could get a read on someone after just a few days, and could pick a nickname.

The only one he ever had to alter was his own.

He decided {Mild OCD} perhaps wasn’t right, even though he did like things to be just so.

He thought that perhaps he was more of a {Slight Paranoia}.


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