WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK

by Ross Sharp

“Why is everybody smiling?”, thinks Unfriendlyman as he walks to the railway station. “Is my fly undone?”

It is not. 

As he walks down the steps to the platform, he thinks of the morning that awaits him.

“One more email from that woman today, I’m going to fly down to Melbourne and stab her in the eyeball with a chopstick”, he brainsnaps.

The train arrives, and Unfriendlyman boards.

There it sits, an insensate mass of black-clad blubber, another one, earbuds firmly in place and oblivious to the world, poking at tiny buttons on a shiny rectangle with fingers like clubs, her face a sweaty and disheveled pudding of childlike absorption, and all around her a dozen people stand, and there she sits.

With her bag on the seat next to her.

“A seat is not a luggage rack”, thinks Unfriendlyman, looking down at the thing.

“A SEAT IS NOT A LUGGAGE RACK!”, he thinks again, attempting to gather the perfect storm of his unfriendliness to hurl at the sluggish consciousness of this sloth, a bolt of super sourness to jolt her into an awareness of her surrounds, maybe even fling her down the length of the carriage in an enjoyably unfriendly fashion.

Nothing.

“Probably that third glass of wine I had last night”, he muses. “Or the sixth … seventh. Maybe it’s a diet thing …”

He lets the matter slip, secure in the karma that will no doubt come to slap her full of forty cream donuts a day for a year until she drops dead of a heart attack at 22 on her first visit to a Jenny Craig.

He alights at his stop, begins the dreary trudge to a dreary office in a dreary building full of dreary people doing dreary things and pretending to care.

He doesn’t. Care, that is.

Why, just this last week past, he was invited to a meeting to discuss the development and implementation of a new system for the company, a “new” system that had been in development for so long, it is to “new” what Pong is to Grand Theft Auto, and he had no hesitation in letting everyone know precisely how he felt about this state of affairs and the people responsible for it  …

“I wouldn’t trust your mob to put a battery in a fire alarm without sending 30,000 emails about it first, and then blowing up the building.”

“You need to have faith sometimes, Unfriendlyman.”

“Sometimes evidence is better. Frank. I don’t know what “faith” is. Leprechauns and fairy dust far as I’m concerned. Based on the “evidence” so far, least as far as these last half-dozen years are concerned, we could give your people the plans and materials to build a spaceship to fucking Saturn, you’d give us a crystal radio and a Viewmaster and tell us if we looked hard enough, we’d find aliens.”

“There are not that many commercial solutions available for this type of project, Unfriendlyman.”

“If by not many, you mean hundreds, no there aren’t. There are about a dozen. They all work. They work because they were built by people who know how to make them work. Intelligent people. With talent and skills. Your man’s effort is a clunky collage of inflexible crapware that’s got more bugs in it than a Dubbo cow paddock. It’s 2012. This shit you’ve cobbled together is 1987 … Look, I’m all in favour of providing the simple with meaningful employment, but maybe you should have them lick envelopes in the mail room instead of programming our fucking systems.”

“That’s not very helpful, Unfriendlyman.”

“Go fuck yourself.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologise to me when I’m being rude.”

“Sorry.”

“I’ve lost my train of thought now.”

“Sorry.”

“What?”

“Sorry.”

“ … ”

They’re tricky, friendly people.

It’s the softly-spoken, unfailingly polite ones. The ones who are always there with a helping hand, or a kind word. The ones who sincerely enquire after your health if you’ve been ill, or wish you a happy birthday, or ask about your weekend.

They wish you a merry Christmas, some of them, and put chocolates on your desk, sometimes little chocolate eggs at Easter. Once, somebody gave him a bottle of wine, and it took every shred of his self-control to stop him from smashing it against a wall, and then glassing the bastard who had been so foolishly unthinking as to offer it.

“It’s not easy being Unfriendlyman in a world of smiling, hollow-souled psychotics”, he thinks.

An email arrives from the company’s Social Committee …

“We’re very excited to announce our very first “Bring Your Kids To Work Day”!”, it shrieks and continues, “If you’d like to volunteer to help with the event, as a tour guide, buddy, or general helper, please let us know! We’re looking forward to a fun-filled day!”

“I don’t know what to do anymore. Except maybe die”, he thinks, and then he screams inside, silently, despairingly, hopelessly, “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART!”

Is this the end of Unfriendlyman?

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