Greetings and Salutations
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I am the only person in Dallas who has ever had this phone number. My dad pulled some strings for me when I moved here and he ensured that it had never before been in use. He also pays the bill. The only time it rings it when he calls me every Wednesday evening at seven PM.
The ring sounds like someone has let loose a compendium of three-year-olds with wooden spoons banging every pot and pan in the house. It is deafening. In the three years I have lived here, I have not been able to figure out how to turn down the volume and I am too lazy to replace the phone with something less obnoxious.
I am awakened from a deep dreamless sleep to the cookware cacophony that is my telephone. With my heart pounding like a bass drum in my chest at one hundred and eighty beats per minute my arm shoots out and knocks over my stack of bedtime reading comic books. Until that moment it was topped with my black hardcover engineering notebook. It makes a nice thwack as it slaps against the wall and slams to the floor.
I glance at the clock. Three PM. Four hours of sleep after writing code for the previous twenty does not feel like enough. I find and answer the phone without so much as clearing my throat.
The enthusiastic, high pitched squeal of my boss hits me like a steak knife on a stoneware plate. You have got to be fucking kidding me.
At least the useless peon is correcting how he addresses me now. I am not a fan of short forms or nicknames. I empty my lungs with a long sigh. I cannot resist getting a quick dig in. The man loves to be called Rich.
Incoherent mumbles come through the phone’s plastic receiver. Is he laughing? Heh. I hope he does not think I am being playful. The fact that an asshole as dim as a 4 Watt bulb is working that job never ceases to amaze me. The fact that he is an insufferable brownnoser makes it worse. The fact that I have to report into him makes me want to shove a Costco-sized bundle of sharpened number two pencils up his ass. Yes sir, one hundred and forty-four miniature graphite enemas coming right up. I should write that into the computer game I am working on.
“Pete—Sorry—Peter, are you there? We have a bit of a situation here. We need some WLCs to fill in for an Overnighter.”
WLC stands for Weekend and Leave Coverage; the Overnighters are the group that works the eleven P.M. to seven A.M. shift.
“How is this a situation? Our job is to cover off other people’s shifts. Why does it need to be me? Not interested”
“You’ve been specifically requested.”
“You know how the hierarchical game is played, Peter. That’s not the direction this type of stuff flows.”
Richard is incapable of pronouncing hierarchical. Every time he tries, it comes out sounding like the name of some science fiction villain. Hire-arch-eee-cal. He uses big ten-dollar words all the time to make him sound managerial and important.
“I am intimately familiar with the office pyramid of accountability. How long are we talking?” Shit, I should not have asked that. Now I am negotiating. Never negotiate with terrorists or idiot supervisors. I look to my floor for my notebook, find it within an arm’s reach, and grab it.
“Well here’s the thing, it’s for the foreseeable future. Between you and me, it’s likely going to be permanent.”
I open my notebook with one hand and catch the pencil as it falls out from between the pages. “I am still not interested, Richard. I am not real keen on busting my ass as a full-timer and not getting any of the other benefits that come along with it.”
I am still not fully awake and my pencil leaves shaky scribbles of numbers on the page already cluttered with the last set of algorithms I am working on for a special assignment.
“You should be excited, Peter! Y’all are coming off weekends and leave.”
My grip on the handset tightens. The fake excitement in his voice makes me want to set my phaser a degree or two past stun and fire off a shot right at his throat. “You said ‘y’all’, Richard. Who is ‘y’all’?”
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