Office Routines

We had prided ourselves on how promptly
we answered letters, but all that went
to hell when the new system was installed.
In the old days, correspondences maintained
between the planets and the viscera, politics
and the heavenly movements; now everything
keyed itself to one digital counter, blinking
and constantly picking up a stray minute
here or there. A three-legged dog trotted –
or whatever such a triped does – along
the highway, nosing the wind for a break
in the trafffic. We are told the new interface
is more “natural,” “easier,” more “intuitive,”
like picking up a stick and scrawling
the tetragrammaton in the sand at the beach,
or falling off a log. Disorienting enough
to be working with a thermostat, adjusting
the speed of one’s reflexes to some ideal
mean, shivering and sweating by turns, and
listening for the cries from the intercom
that will summon us doubleplusquick out
of our homey cubicles. Mine – since
you ask – is minimally but tastefully
decorated: a few family portraits, scent-
free potted plants, a bowl of candies unlikely
to go stale anytime soon, a poster of
Britney Spears at her most pleasingly
modest. The bell buzzes for us all, they
say, and calls us to the traps and objects
of somebody else’s world. Voicemail
and instant messages, football scores,
stock reports, half-price clearances, fore-
closure sales and forced enclosures.

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