Monday, September 29, 2008

Starting Lineup

It explained so much. This little folder of spreadsheets and graphs. Almost like any of the hundreds maybe thousands thrown about the office. An easy accident to slip into the copy pile. But not like other folders. It explained so much.

Milton made the discovery. Not discovery really, but figured out what it was. Something a little more important than discovery. Halfway though the copy job and half an hour after the office closed. Just the two file clerks left to finish the day’s load. Out of the corner of his eye, Milton saw his name on one of the spreadsheets. This at six in the evening.

So what they did was what anyone would do, the two of them. They let the Cannon imageRunner finish. Then they each—Sarah and Milton—grabbed a copy of the file and sat at the long maple table in the conference room. At seven o’clock they punched out to avoid suspicious timecard activity. But still they sat around the table. With the files. Late into the night.

* * *

The documents titled Office Fantasy League 2008. Each page listing all employees as divided into two teams. One managed by Mr. O’Leary. The other, by Mr. Rabinowitz. Graphs tracking every employee’s statistics across a range of categories. Among them, Coffee Pot Refills.

Over Chinese take-out the file clerks studied papers. Milton, slightly jealous that Sarah doubled his output in the Pages Copied category. But even so, he was a head above everyone when it came to Filing Efficiency.

Still, more than settling personal wagers. What this folder provided was answers to longstanding mysteries. Why had Bruce—the low-billing lawyer with a coke problem-not been fired months ago? Well it was Bruce who single handedly won the Most Bathroom Breaks category for Mr. Rabinowitz. Every week of the year. Of the season.

Why did Molly serve as secretary to only one lawyer? All other secretaries handled the workloads of two, sometimes three. It was a nasty trick by Mr. O’Leary. A sabotage of the Phone Calls Answered category on his opponent’s roster.

Closer to dawn than sunset, the file clerks at last went home. Each retaining a copy of the folder. The original returned to the oversize desk in Mr. Rabinowitz’s office.

* * *

The next morning office business went as usual. More or less. Milton made sure to brew the day’s first batch of coffee. The gurgling hot pot then finished almost solely by Sarah. Which of course resulted in numerous visits to the lady’s room.

Gradually through the week both Milton and Sarah made more and more calls to Molly. Mostly saying, “Uh…wrong number.” Sometimes just hanging up. Either way. So long as the stat was counted.

In a month Bruce was gone. No longer keeping pace with Sarah’s caffeine-fueled piss breaks. Molly assigned a second Lawyer. O’Leary figuring she was taking personal calls with the free time. Figuring his plan backfired. And slowly Old Man Rabinowitz began addressing Milton as “Champ.” Just an office nickname. More and more O’Leary would call Sarah his “MVP.” Out of affection. For a job well done.

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