It was going to be just another Thursday at the offices of Intrepid Media, or so I thought. I dragged my sleepy ass out of bed, showered, and met my limo driver out front.
“Good day, Sir,” murmured Alfred. He knows how grumpy I can be in the mornings, so he keeps things understated. Without another word, he passed me the morning papers as I climbed in the back of the stretch job that Jael/Joe makes us all take to work.
“We have to think big if we’re going to BE big!” Joe/Jael enthused at last year’s staff meeting (my first, incidentally.) “Limos for everyone!” I agreed only on the condition that I could keep my own driver, Alfred. He’s been with me for 4 years, and he knows my ways. He’s also good at getting me discreetly out of the book signings without having rabid fans scratch up the paint. You just can’t get help like that from the temp agency, and I wanted to keep him. Jael/Joe agreed, so I went along with the limo thing.
On the way into the office I read the papers, had some coffee, and called in for my messages. Candi (“With an ‘i’!” she always chirps) the Intrepid Media Interpersonal Facilitator (she gets bitchy when I say ‘receptionist’) passed along my messages, which were a bit disappointing. I was expecting a bigger bidding war between Dell and Random House for my latest novel. I called my contractor and told him to shave a couple of meters off of the plans for the pool I was building. I hate working on a budget.
“Straight to work, sir?” Alfred asked.
“Yes, Alfred,” I said. “I traded donut duty with Driscoll this morning.” Michael and I had swapped so that he could leave for France on Friday and spend the weekend in wine country. He’s doing a column on grapes or horsemeat or something, and was planning on doing some last-minute research.
“Very good, sir,” is all Alfred replied. He never questions me, which is good…but I know he was disappointed. He enjoys our weekly turn picking up the baker’s dozen, glazed, at the Krispy Kreme drive-thru. He’s gotten quite good at timing it so we get there just as the “Hot Donuts Now!” sign comes on. I think it’s cute that he flirts with the drive-thru girl, too. Ah, well…he’d just have to wait until Friday, this week.
I arrived at the towering glass monolith that houses the Intrepid Media juggernaut. No one will say how many floors this building has, since everything above the 42nd floor is unlisted in the elevator and is “Key Access Only.” Lowly Staff Writers like myself are never allowed up there. Anything above 42 is reserved for Joe/Jael’s living and working quarters (rumor has it that they are actually fraternal Siamese twins who share the right hemisphere of their brain, their spleen, and a Swedish bank account), for Driscoll (the Ministerial offices are adorned with works on loan from the Vatican, he says), and for Kraemer. Editors only get one floor to themselves, but Adam still won’t tell us which one. The top of the building is constantly shrouded in dark, roiling clouds, which makes it impossible to tell how high it reaches. The constant, jagged forks of lightning that play amongst the giant stone gargoyles make it hard to look up there anyway.
Alfred pulled up to the front, and opened the door for me. “Anything else, sir?”
“No, thank you, Alfred,” I replied, then as an afterthought I handed him a $50 note and said “Go get yourself some donuts.” He suppressed a smile and thanked me. It’s fun to be nice to the help sometimes. Keeps them off guard.
I swiped my security ID through the scanner at the front door, which let me into the outer alcove of the lobby.
“Good morning, sir!” came Melvin’s cheerful voice over the speakers. “Password, please?”
“Doctor Funklove,” I replied. It was obviously Driscoll’s week to pick the password. He always chose one of his cat’s names. There was a buzz and a click, and Melvin the security chief met me at the door. After a couple of cursory swipes with the metal detector (after all, it’s Adam who’s the dangerous one) I was cleared and headed for the elevator banks.
“How’s Australia today, sir?” he chuckled. It’s a little joke he and I share every morning.
Just as I reached the elevator, I heard the security door buzz again behind me. Walker and Miller had arrived at the same time, and I said “Hi, Jeffs!” for my own amusement.
They joined me in the elevator, and Jeff (Miller, I think. I keep getting them confused.) said, “So? You ready?”
The other Jeff (Walker, I suppose. One day I’ll have to sort them out) elbowed him sharply in the ribs and made a face. They both fell silent.
“Okay, guys…what’s up?” I asked. I hate surprises, and these two obviously were up to something.
“Nothing,” Jeff said, rolling his eyes innocently.
“Er, yeah. Nothing,” the other Jeff added.
I scowled up at the floor numbers, rolling slowly by. It didn’t look like I was going to get much out of the pair of them, so I decided to just wait and find out. Last time they acted like this, we found the entire Human Resources level flooded with seawater and occupied by a pair of juvenile humpback whales. The end results were: sushi in the cafeteria for three weeks, a funny smell in the carpet that still lingers, and the revocation of all Star Trek privileges for both of them, indefinitely. They still won’t tell us how they got the whales past Melvin.
I was snapped out of my reverie by the elevator chime for the 28th floor: Michelle Von Euw’s offices.
“You’re here early,” I said as she got on.
“Yeah, I was on my way up to see you,” she answered.
“Really? What about?” I asked.
She shot a nervous glance at the two Jeffs, and subtly shook her head as if to say “Not here.”
Raising her voice a bit, she said, “I want to go over that… thing we talked about the other day.”
“Riiiiiight,” I said, playing along, “That thing.”
I shot a glance at the two Jeffs, but they were busy making faces at the security camera and were not paying attention.
Suddenly I remembered something that I’d meant to ask Michelle. “So, did you ever get that dry cleaning bill? I really wanted to put that on my expense account, since the whole thing was ultimately my fault.”
Earlier in the week at one of our Staff Breakfast Meetings, Ko Ko (my pet circus monkey) had thrown a bit of a tantrum and flung my smoked salmon across the table. Michelle had been wearing a new designer silk blouse, and fortunately Mrs. Haversham (personal assistant to Michelle Von Euw and former CIA agent) had flung herself in front of the airborne fish, neatly taking the stain. She was unhurt, but her suit had been badly soiled.
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Michelle said with a laugh. “Your expenses, my expenses…it all goes through the same accounting department, right?”
We laughed, and I apologized once again for bringing Ko Ko to the meeting.
“She’s in heat,” I said, “And she never likes strategy meetings when she’s ovulating.”
For some reason, Michelle edged away from me in the elevator.
The chime sounded again, and the door opened. We were on the Kennel Level, where Roger kept his dogs while he was at work. Roger stood there, my monkey in his arms, glaring at me and covered in something that smelled bad.
“Ko Ko wasn’t teasing them again, was she?” I asked.
“Yes,” replied Roger. He thrust her at me, where she clung to my lapels pretending to be sorry. “With one of Driscoll’s cats. I don’t think it’s one that he’ll miss, though.”
“Sorry,” I meekly replied. I pointed at his suit, and said, “Send me the bill for that.” Michelle rolled her eyes as Roger just stared straight ahead at the passing floor numbers.
"So," I said, attempting to re-start the conversation, "What do you guys think of the new intern, Sigbjørn?"
Roger continued to ignore me in favor of his stained clothes, but Michelle said "I think he's all right...but what's up with that thing in the middle of his name? Is that some kind of gimmick, like what Prince did?"
I confessed that I had no idea how to even pronounce "ø", so I was just calling him Dexter for the time being. He made coffee better than Ko Ko did, so I wasn't going to sweat details like his name.
By this time we were nearly to the floor that housed my offices. I noticed Michelle, Jeff, and Jeff all bracing themselves, but I was totally unprepared for what happened next.
“SURPRISE!” they yelled as the doors opened. I was shocked. It seemed that everyone in the building (executive level and above, of course) was there. Brilliant™, the Intrepid Media house band, was pounding out a raucous version of “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” as I tried to take it all in. A huge banner hung from the crystal chandeliers that read “Happy Anniversary!”
I had completely forgotten…it had been one year since I'd joined the Intrepid Media family. It was my Anniversary!
Suddenly the crowd parted, Champagne glasses in hand, and there in the center of the room stood a table covered in a red velvet cloth. In the center of this cloth was a cushion, and perched on this cushion was a small gold two-way speaker. I approached, and an expectant hush fell over the crowd.
“Hello?” I offered meekly.
“Congratulations, Jack,” came the tinny, double voice from far above. “By the way, your May column is late,” and with a barely audible click, the connection was broken. What an honor! To be personally congratulated by Jael/Joe! This moment was indelibly engraved in my mind, right next to the microchip.
I turned (Ko Ko still clinging to my jacket) and raised my glass in the direction of Michael, Adam, Jeff, Roger, Michelle, Dexter, and Jeff.
“To the best staff money can buy!” I cheered. The clink of glasses was deafening as the entire room toasted us all. I was well and truly touched.
I wonder if it’s time to tell them that I still haven’t found my office yet?
April 10, 2001
Born the son of a circus monkey, Jack had to overcome the stigma of having an address south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Struggling against all odds, he finally got his HS diploma from some guy on the corner, and proceeded to attend NC State University, where his records are now the "running joke" in the admissions office. In February of 2000, he moved to Sydney, Australia, to pursue a writing career full-time. Jack currently has a husband but no wife, no children, and a dog with great fashion sense.
ABOUT JACK BRADLEY
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
5.22.01 @ 10:08p
Hello? Is this thing on?
5.22.01 @ 10:48p
Happy anniversary, Jack. Now get back to work.
5.23.01 @ 9:10a
5.23.01 @ 12:07p
Huzzah! Thin Mints for everyone!
5.23.01 @ 8:04p
5.24.01 @ 5:39p
Just for the record Jack, I could care less about the suit (it's actually a good excuse to never wear it again). It just pisses me off that Ko Ko runs amok, and the dogs have to be kenneled...and we all know they're smarter than she is.
michelle von euw
5.3.02 @ 12:23p
I'm glad we decided not to fire Alfred. And now it's almost your two year anniversary, Jack...look how much we've grown.
5.3.02 @ 10:21p
Maybe I should write a 2-year anniversary column? (I mean, after all...we have annexed that spare lot in Area 51, and rented the new "Adjunct Offices" space, to be built and completed as soon as the City of Atlantis approves our building plans...)