I barely remember writing this. It's like somebody else wrote it, honestly, and I'd like to read more:
They sent me to Singapore.
To be more exact, they sent me to New Braunfels, Texas, and from there I got sent to Singapore, but the distinctions are too fine at this point to matter much. New Braunfels, time-wise, was simply a layover, unimportant except for the fact that I met Buddy Terkel.
The meta-company I work for – let's call it Globocorp—has their cthulu-like tentacles in virtually everything. From chemicals to construction, from publishing to software to plastics manufacturing to life insurance to fast food to elderly care and beyond. It is omnivorous and insatiable.
My division, Sundries, specializes almost by accident in the embarrassing, tacky and oddly appealing. Twenty-odd years ago, in the late eighties, it started off as the corporate gifts department, or so I understand, but over time all the odds and ends and novelties got dumped on us. Currently we add about five billion a year to the bottom line.
So one Thursday afternoon I was sitting in my cubicle going over the adult diaper sales for the quarter when my supervisor, Mr Hadley, poked his bald, shiny head around the corner.
"Sir?" I looked up. He had an odd gleam in his eye. This, I knew, did not bode well.
"How would you like to go on an excursion?" He smiled, and his grandfatherly eyes crinkled up behind his round, wire-rimmed glasses like an oddly hairless Santa Clause. Warning bells sounded. Normally I'd jump at any chance to leave the office, but I felt bad mojo humming down the line.
"Gee Mr Hadley, I've got the quarterly report and the TPS sheets to do…."
"Don't worry about that, Addison. Forman will be happy to take over for you. Won't you Forman?" That last bit he shouted over the cubicle divider.
"Oh yeah, sure thing Mr Hadly. Can't think of a thing I'd rather do," came the reply, the bitterly sarcastic tone utterly lost on Hadley, who was impervious to sarcasm, irony and whining.
"See? All taken care of."
"Looks that way. What's up?"
He glanced at his watch. "Well, technically speaking, you will be, in about an hour. I need you to fly to Texas."
I stared at him. I think I blinked a couple of times.
"Texas," he confirmed.
"Like…Texas? Big State? Down South?"
"That's the one. Unless they moved it."
"I need you to meet with a shareholder."
I waited for more information. None seemed to be forthcoming. I went with what I knew.
"Honestly? I don't know. He called up and asked HR to send him the best and brightest from Sundries. I told them Joan was on maternity leave. Then he asked us to send the biggest underachiever in the department. Tag, you're it." And then he laughed that Santa Clause laugh of his, the one that sounds so jolly but is actually sonically laced with traces of pure evil. I cringed under the weight of it. When it finally trailed off, Hadley took off his glasses and wiped tears from the corner of his eye with one oddly hairless wrist. He noticed the time on his watch.
"Say, you'd better get going. The plane is leaving in fifty minutes." He handed me a manilla envelope and strolled off down the corridor whistling some Doris Day tune.
I didn't have time to go home and pack. I didn't have time to take a leak. I threw some odds and ends into a briefcase that hadn't seen use since I joined the company and ran out the door to catch a taxi. I left my computer on. For all I know it's still on.
That was two years ago.