A portrait of the sheer randomness of employment and life.
"I think I'm going to kill myself." I say, loud enough that my colleagues can't pretend they haven't heard.
Don't do it, Jason! You have so much to live for! I'm not going to let you out of my sight until you get through this!
But no one says that. No one even looks up.
With a grunt I swing my feet onto my desk, crossing my left ankle over my right, knocking the stapler onto the floor. I twiddle my thumbs, waiting for someone to care enough to interfere with my plan.
"No, no, no, no, no!" Shouts come from a couple cubicles over.
Finally. I smile. Aloud, I call out dramatically, "You can't stop me. I'm really gonna do it."
"That is not how you play the game of life!"
I open an internet browser and Google suicide methods. Carbon monoxide looks promising. "If life is a game, I lost a long time ago." I add a melancholy catch to my voice. I think I hear a few sniffs in response to my heart-wrenching performance.
"You can only choose one career! You hold up the different career cards, and the colours have to match. See, this blue..."
I frown and let gravity suck my feet back down to the floor. I stand and find the cubicle where the voice is coming from. It's crammed with people on their office chairs, playing the board game version of LIFE. Arnold is still arguing with Janice over the rules.
"If this game was supposed to be realistic they would call it the Game of Reality!" he shouts. "Now whose turn is it to spin the wheel? I'm the police officer, so if you spin a 10, I get... a lot of money." He pauses to check the rule sheet again.
Janice looks up and winks at me, flipping her platinum blonde hair at Arnold. "So are you going to strangle yourself with rubber bands or try to slit your throat with the paper shredder?"
"I once tried to end it all by drinking five bottles of white-out," Old Abe pipes up as he spins the wheel on the board. It whirrs and finally stops on 6. He moves the blue car.
"Very funny," I glare at Janice. "I was thinking of Carbon monoxide poisoning, if you must know. But I don't own a car or a stove... or a barbeque."
"You can borrow my car," Beth pops her head over the cubicle wall. "Just bring it back with a full tank."
"You're too kind," I reply.
Old Abe leans in and, in a gruff whisper, offers me the use of his gun.
"I dated an assassin once," says Janice. "I might still have his number if you want."
"What is going on here?" The question is followed by a misplaced, annoyingly bubbly laugh.
We all groan and look at the floor. Janice grabs my arm. "Kill me first," she mutters.
Olivia, our boss, is enough to make anyone suicidal. She wears obnoxiousness like a badge, resting above her bulbous chest, which wouldn't look quite so round if she didn't insist on wearing clothes intended for women half her size. She eyes the board game disapprovingly over gaudy 60's glasses with no lenses. "I'm sure you all have work to be working on. I really hate giving black dots." She chuckles, and I watch her arms jiggle as she claps her hands twice. "Chop chop!"
Olivia wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but no school would hire her after they performed a criminal record check. So she just pretends that we are five-year-olds, complete with an actual star chart hanging on the door of her office. My row is all black dots except for one star on last Thursday, where I took a sick day.
Since no one likes to argue with Olivia (not because it's challenging, but because she doesn't understand logic or big words), Arnold cleans up the game and the rest of us wander back to our own cubicles. Once the boss is out of sight, Janice pops her head over the wall of my cubicle, a half-grin on her too-pink lips.
"Seriously though, you can't kill yourself on a Monday."
I laugh. "Why? Monday is the worst day of the week. I bet more suicides happen on Mondays than any other day."
"You can't because that would make the day worse. You should end it on a Sunday, and save yourself the trouble of even beginning another Monday."
Arnold sends his two cents by the company instant-messaging system.
And Mona, goddess of Mondays, does not take kindly to death on her day. She may sentence you to an afterlife of eating gravel and giving birth to piranhas.
Arnold is making up his own religion.
My phone rings. It's Courtney, the girl from the corner cubicle who never speaks except for over the phone. "If you die can I have your cubicle?" she wants to know.
"And my lucky stapler," I assure her.
"Can I get that in writing?"
Beth comes and sits on my desk, tucking thin, mousy brown hair behind her ears. She looks at Janice. "So if Jason doesn't want the assassin can I have him? I have some business to take care of."