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Tuesday, June 2, 1998
By Paul Ford
Paging Tom Peters
I got to work at 7. Alice was there, waiting. We needed to get some writing done by the evening, in the rush of other people's poor planning.
As she and I worked and chatted through the early morning, arrived. He said, "why so early, you two?"
"We were here at seven," I said. "Working on the [Major Media Conglomerate] proposal."
"If you hadn't wasted your time gabbing, you could have slept in."
There was an uncomfortable pause as the joke fell from his mouth, rolled over the cubicle edge, fell to the ground, bounced once, and broke into several thousand little joke shards. In the humorless vacuum, he shuffled off.
"Ow," said Alice, a few seconds later. "What should I say? 'I'm sorry I'm working so hard for your company. It won't happen again.'"
"Some real troop-rallying, there," I said. "Like Henry the Fifth on St. Crispin's day."
Later in the day, we spoke with another person working on the same project. She's in sales, very pretty and professional; neither Alice or I ever thought she'd want to talk with our goofish selves. She told us she'd spent part of the day crying over the proposal--she's been given a large, technical task and then half-abandoned, a bad habit in our busy company. We felt bad for her and empathized. She loves dogs, all animals, even the office poodle. She seems lonely in the company, isolated. I thought, "we should be her friend."
"If you're having trouble, come talk to us," I said. "I'm glad to help. I know all the doofy technology stuff."
Then we talked about dogs and veterinary schools, and other possibilities away from the 14th floor in the Flatiron district, and I packed my bags to go home.