Chapter 5 – One Percent Inspiration

After the usual Monday in which no one went out for lunch but everyone smelled up the office by microwaving weekend leftovers, and then the seemingly endless, interminable afternoon meeting (referred to as #meetingmonday, for some reason), Randy looked around the office and had one of those crises that he felt compelled to—if it had been a movie from the 1970s starring Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino, anyway—melt down, freak out, and chew up the scenery on his mercifully expedient way out the door for the last time. Then, suddenly, like a flash, Randy had a flash of inspiration. Or rather, like a lightning-bolt, he had a flash of inspiration; a lightbulb went off over his head (had this been a cartoon). He would write a novel! A new one! He had written several in the past, but they all languished, here and there, in file folders and hard drives. Was languish the right word? It's not a word he used often, so he should look it up.

Languish was probably the right word, but this new novel would maintain its vitality because it would be a living, breathing thing. His idea was that he would write, in minute detail, about a single work-day at ThribbleSpec, in such minute detail that it would reveal, what?—that which needed to be revealed. It would be like Ulysses, by James Joyce—wasn't that a single day? He had never read it. Or maybe more like that novel... The Mezzanine, it was called—who wrote that? Nicholson Baker—he looked it up—it was an entire novel about the thoughts going through this guy's head while he's on his way up an escalator. At least that's what Randy thought it was about, he hadn't read it, but he loved that idea. Though what usually went through his head while on an escalator was: why was the person in front of him not walking, but just standing there? It was like people went brain-dead as soon as they got on an escalator. You were walking along, then suddenly you're just standing there? What was with that?

Anyway, he would write about a single day at ThribbleSpec, changing all the names, of course, and minutely document every thought that went through his head while working, as well as what he thought was going through other people's consciousnesses. He could take notes on his laptop while working—it wouldn't look too suspicious—and then he would write a chapter a day as soon as he got home from work, before he got too tired. Or maybe there would be no chapters, just a continuous stream. He needed a title; he found that he always needed a title before starting anything, even if it was just a working title. Maybe Golden something. For some reason he really liked the word “golden”—ever since he realized there used to be restaurants with the word golden in their name, but for some reason there were none anymore, except fast food chains like Golden Chicken and Golden Corral.

It could be, let's see: Golden Dome, but wasn't that already a novel? He'd look it up. Or Golden Years, like the David Bowie song—but if he was going to use a Bowie song he'd rather go with Diamond Dogs, or... Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family. He laughed when he thought of that and realized that his boss, who wasn't really called his boss, but senior team-member, Jason, was looking over at him. How long had he been sitting there with his eyes clouded by the dim stars of future ambition? Now Jason walked over to him and was getting his attention in order to say something. For fuck's sake, it was almost quitting time. What now?

“Our company blog entries, on our website. Everyone has to do one eventually; no one really likes it, but I don't see why we can't all have a little fun with it. Anyway, your number came up next, in my, you know, mental bingo number generator.” Jason had a way of starting a conversation right in the middle of what would be a normal conversation, so you were put off balance as you tried to figure out what the hell he was talking about. Randy figured it out pretty quickly. Everyone on the ThribbleSpec team had to do certain things, eventually, he guessed, like organize a party or outing, and present a blog entry on the company website that was essentially a profile or portrait of themselves that would reflect positively on the company. “By the end of the week. Thanks Randy.”

“No problem.” Jason was gone—now conspicuously checking on the coffee station Keurig pod supply, to show that he was willing to do things that most team leaders would consider “under” them. Of course, there was always a Keurig pod supply because no one ever used the Keurig coffee maker, unless a client was in the office and requested coffee, which Randy had never seen happen. Clients never drank anything but Diet Coke. Randy forgot all about his new novel as his mind was filled with the dread of having to write up a profile of himself for the blog. He had briefly glanced at other entries upon first being hired, and he could barely hold back his vomit at the phony expressions of contentment, unity, and regular-Joe-ness. Okay. He'd do it tonight and get it over with and not ruin his whole week and sweat over it sleeplessly on Thursday night, in abject misery.