Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Aliens!

Dear Diary,

I read on the Internet that aliens may not even exist after all. What?! Now, all I have to look forward to is spending the rest of my life with boring, judging, jealous humans. What's the point? All the promise of E.T., the Transformers, Alf - all spoiled by those shallow scientists who think they look cool in their lab coats. They're nothing special. I have my own lab coat that I wear to clubs and bars. When I accessorize with my chemistry set, no one knows the difference.

When work piles up at the office, I often pull out my 3-ring binder and continue my project of preparing for when I meet my first alien. I can't wait to reveal to them that I have been searching across this entire Universe for a friend who likes the same shows as me, and the same Bratz characters and the same liver-based, flavored snacks. Someone who wouldn't mind paying for dinner once in a while. Someone who isn't afraid to express how they feel about me. Aliens are much more advanced than we are, and probably have the same tastes and dislikes as me. I hope my alien likes the color periwinkle. I won't judge him, because that's my favorite color too.

I need an alien who won't talk crap behind my back, won't laugh at me while pointing in my face or have a fondness for wedgies in the office. I need an alien who does dishes, cleans the washroom and can travel through time for when I'm late for work. I need an alien who can take it when I project all my guilt, insecurity and inner rage onto him. I need an alien who'll forgive me when I embezzle from his account. Or who can go back to his planet when I'm sick of him, and then fly back at a moment's notice if I need to talk or ask a question about my VCR.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Make it POP!

Dear Diary,

I've launched a new business at work, right in my cubicle. Popcorn! Starting at 9:00am this morning, I started popping some fresh corn. I think everyone is excited. Sheila, our boss, is away at a meeting until later so I'm not sure yet how excited she'll be. I brought my own electric air popper from home, and I’ve also commandeered the microwave oven from the staff kitchen, and now my cubicle is hoppin’ poppin'. I've also fashioned a hat for my new venture. It’s a huge origami sailboat with my business name written across it: “Eric will POP you!”

My popcorn stand/cubicle features a square walk-thru window that I’ve chain-sawed out of my cubicle wall, so that as I’m serving people walking past, I don’t have to get up from my chair. This is very considerate of me since I am continuing to do my regular office work as all my clients' needs are also being met.

Some in the office have expressed concern that all the popping noise constantly sounding from my cubicle is breaking people’s concentration and "driving them up the wall". I have informed these "haters" that they’ve brought this inconsiderate attitude from home and if they like to practice communism behind their own closed doors, then that’s their business. Others have complained about the microwave missing from the staff kitchen. I’ve assured everyone that I will be returning the microwave during our regular lunch hour, when everyone SHOULD be using it. Otherwise no one should be using the microwave outside of lunch time anyway. They should be working, not playing with the microwave. And because I am returning the microwave during lunch, no one should be expecting fresh popcorn from noon to one, and the first person who asks me for corn during this time period, will get shouted at by me. The second person who asks, I am sequestering the microwave back for good and everyone can eat their lunch cold, but can now enjoy fresh popcorn from noon to one.

So far, the fire department has been called in this morning on three separate occasions. And that was only because I’m pouring regular kernels into brown paper bags, along with vegetable oil and placing my secret recipe inside the microwave, and the bag keeps erupting into flames as I go outside for a stroll and some fresh air. It's never too late to invest in R & D, as they say.

Sheila, our boss, just came back to the office from her morning meeting, and is appalled at all the piles of sawdust and what I've had done to my cubicle. She is shutting me down. No one has even had the chance to partake of my corn yet.

I just microwaved my hat, as a "goodbye to the business" gesture. Now the entire inside of the microwave oven is black, and my hat's staples have ruined it forever. So now we all have cold lunches to look forward to, and no popcorn. Thanks Sheila.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Doctor's Note

Dear Diary,

A few days ago, my boss, Sheila, called me into her office.

SHEILA: You were missing Thursday and Friday. Where were you?

ME: I had an emergency.

SHEILA: And you didn't feel like you had to call us to let us know?

ME: It was an emergency. How was I supposed to call you? It was urgent.

SHEILA: Most people would have called, Eric.

ME: Well, I guess most people don't take emergencies seriously. If they did, we wouldn't have all these world disasters like hurricanes and foggy marshes and stuff.

SHEILA: This had nothing to do with the last Harry Potter book coming out, did it?

I looked down at the floor then, blushing.

ME: This is a privacy issue.

I looked back up, avoiding Sheila's gaze.

ME: It's like if I had a private telephone number. I'd keep it private because I wouldn't people like you calling me.

SHEILA: Well, then, I'll need a doctor's note.

ME: That was the emergency. My doctor died. Who's going to write the note now? You tell me.

SHEILA: How close were you to your doctor?

ME: Not so much. I just wanted to hear the will being read. I followed his family all over, for two days, but they never read a thing. I'm owed my inheritance.

SHEILA: For what? You were just his patient.

ME: I'm the patient who asked the most questions. And I'd call him before every meal to tell him what I was about to eat and to ask if it was okay for me to eat it. That man owes me.

SHEILA: You can get back to your desk now.

ME: Sheila, my doctor didn't really die.

SHEILA: I know.

ME: But after talking to you, I'm hiring a lawyer and I'm suing my doctor for everything he's got.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm bored

Dear Diary,

Work is just piling up on my desk, but I'm bored. I'm just sitting in my cubicle, staring at my computer screen, unable to motivate myself to make the next move on Solitaire. I already ate my lunch, at 9:10am - not because I was hungry, but because I had nothing else fun to do.

I brought an origami book to the office this morning to spice up my hours here, but I just got so fed up with this bird mobile I was working on that I just tore everything up, letting out a loud, angry huff. Too many colors, too many species. It's all garbage anyway. Where was I going to put this 50-bird mobile? I wasn't even finished and it was already taking over my entire cubicle. How the heck am I supposed to work with all these paper birds in my way? I hate origami.

Lunch time is only two hours away. But I have nothing to eat, nothing to look forward to. I think I might start my own business, in my cubicle. Maybe a consulting business. I can consult people on business and how they can start their own businesses, in their cubicles. Maybe I'll also start a sign-making business so people can put signs up over their cubicles, advertising what their businesses are all about, complete with flashing lights. I hope someone opens a dry-cleaning business, then I can just drop off my pants and things when I get in, and pick them up on my way out.

Maybe someone can open up a corner store, and I can do my groceries on my coffee break. I bet someone like Charisse will open up a flower shop and I can get my wife discounted flowers since I work with Charisse. She might even have some "day-olds" that I might be interested in. Wouldn't it be convenient if someone opened up a bar, and we can all jam into their cubicle for a drink when we're having a tough day, and at night, they could turn it into a dance club, with a long line-up and bouncers and stuff?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 3

Dear Diary,

It was last Friday, and I had already spent 2 nights and 2 days hanging around and inside Toys"R"Us so that on Saturday morning I could get a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before they sold out. I looked haggard, unwashed and bone-thin, with a fast growing, unkempt beard.

Friday afternoon arrived and I stationed myself outside the store with an empty hat in front of me, singing and tap dancing for money since I had none left. I needed to call my wife. Why hadn't she even come here to see if I was okay? Didn't she care that I was doing this for us to get our very own copy of Deathly Hallows. Well, actually, she'd have to get her own copy because I wasn't lending her mine. There are certain things I don't share with my wife, and those are: my favorite books, my razor, my TV, my computer, my desk, my snacks, my kitty litter, my dishes, my utensils, my liquid hand soap, my aspirin, my salt and pepper, and the kitchen sink.

As I finished my song and dance rendition of Lindsay Lohan's "Daughter to Father", some kid walking past poured the rest of his Slurpee into the empty hat lying at my feet. I reached out to grab him by the neck when suddenly, the store parking lot was overtaken by six police cruisers. I shot my hands up in the air and pleaded, "He started it! He started it!"

As the officers stepped out of their vehicles, one looked me straight in the eye.

OFFICER: Are you Eric?

ME: Oh God.

I got teary-eyed then.

ME: Yes, I am. Yes. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Will someone appoint a lawyer for me? I don't know any. Oh God.

OFFICER: Sir, you've been missing for almost forty-eight hours.

This was the worst news.

ME: Oh God. No. Did they find me?

My wife came out of one of the cruisers. She looked like she'd be crying for days, mascara running down her cheeks, and her hair all over the place, clumps of it defying gravity.

MY SWEET WIFE: Where have you been? I thought you were dead.

ME: Dead. Babe... I'm this close to getting Harry Potter. I just have, like, sixteen more hours of this pure hell I've created for myself. I'll see you soon, don't worry. You get back home now.

MY WIFE: Everyone has been looking for you. The police, both our entire families, our neighbors, some people from your office. I've even started funeral arrangements. And you were here... all this time... for a children's book?

ME: Harry Potter, baby. It's his last adventure.

OFFICER: Why didn't you just put five dollars down as a deposit and come back tomorrow for your copy, guaranteed to be here.

ME: What? How does that work?

MY WIFE: Have fun with your book, Eric. You know, you've probably lost your job since your office doesn't know where the hell you've been these past few days. Hope it was worth it.

ME: It was.

My wife went back inside the cruiser, as did all the police officers and everyone drove away.

ME: Wait... hey... I have no money...

I was alone again. I'd probably lost my job, and my marriage. But Harry was just another day away. But I was so tired and starved then, I couldn't remember who Harry was. All I knew was that I just had to go hungry and sleep amongst garbage for one more day. Not so bad. I still didn't have any money to buy the book though. Some customers were approaching so I went back to singing and dancing; this time bursting into an oversexed remix of Fergie's "London Bridge." I needed the money.

Friday, July 20, 2007

How to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Dear Diary,

Since my last entry, I have been at Toys"R"Us for over 30 hours, waiting here so that I can get my hands on a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when it goes on sale in the store on Saturday morning. Yesterday afternoon, after being followed around by eight suspicious store staff members, we suddenly grew closer, and when their manager left on a coffee break, I organized a game of soccer. I pulled staff from other areas, including the cash registers until I pretty much had two teams I was happy with. I'm not crazy about soccer, nor do I know the rules, but I needed a distraction since I still had over forty hours of waiting for my book.

The store manager suddenly showed up, out of the blue, and yelled that no one was serving customers, and that people were walking out with toys without paying for them. I looked around. Everyone was looting and trashing the place. I think I may have even heard the sound of a gun going off coming from the baby section. The manager proceeded to fire all the present staff, after extinguishing three separate, dangerous fires himself. I nonchalantly walked out, shaking my head, pretending I was an unsatisfied customer.

As one female salesperson exited the store for her final time, she looked at me teary-eyed and revealed that she had never had this fun a shift at a job before. I gave her my number and told her to call me anytime and I'd show up at her new job and I'd make that place just as fun.

The manager called other staff to come to work, and an hour later, he re-opened the store, letting me back in. I stayed on the "down low" and took a much needed nap curled up in a ball on the change table in the washroom. I kept being woken, however, every time someone flushed, and had to move over a little when some father changed his baby's diaper. "Don't get any of it on me," I warned him. "Do you mind if I grab one of these wipes?" I continued. "I didn't get a chance to shower this morning. That tiny jar of mushed up carrots looks good. Your baby is lucky."

After closing time, I slept in the stinky, garbage-strewn alleyway. I look terrible this morning. I haven't shaved or showered or brushed my teeth in over 30 hours. And all I've eaten are mushed up carrots. I wish I could call home, but I packed so hastily, I didn't bring a mobile phone or any extra money (besides what I already gave the cab driver just to get here). I miss my wife. I miss my cat. I miss food. When are they going to sell that stupid book?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Dear Diary,

For the third night in a row, I didn't sleep a wink last night. I'm too excited for Harry's last book on Saturday. I was just lying in bed, eyes flickering nervously when suddenly, at approximately 2:30am, I was frenzied with panic as I thought: what if Harry's book sells out on Saturday and I don't get a copy. I shouted out then, "Why me!"

MY SLEEPY-EYED LOVELY WIFE: Eric, Eric... It's just a dream. You're just having a bad dream.

I turned to her, eyes wide open.

ME: I'm totally awake. What are you talking about?

MY STILL VERY SLEEPY WIFE: All right... good night...

ME: I'm taking a cab down to Toys"R"Us and camping outside their door until Saturday. That's it.

MY FALLING ASLEEP WIFE: Have fun...

I hastily packed a bag, called a cab and was soon on my way across town to the toy store. I was getting myself a copy of Deathly Hallows on Saturday no matter what. I wondered how big the line was already going to be. Why didn't I think of lining up days ago, I thought, wiping the sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand. Now all the decent spots are probably gone.

We finally arrived. It was pitch black. No one else was there yet.

ME (joyous): ALL RIGHT!!!

I handed the cab driver a twenty and told him to keep the change. I then sat by the entrance door, with a huge smile on my face. By the fourth hour, I was shivering, rocking back and forth, and lonely. By the seventh, I was hallucinatory, singing, talking and laughing to myself, and starving.

Finally, at 10:00am, some staff started showing up and one of the managers unlocked the door.

MANAGER (to his staff): It smells like pee over here.

I looked away, blushing.

ME: Open up already!

It's been now over three hours, and I've pretty much played with everything in the store. After the first hour, I noticed that I was being shadowed by a staff member, who was maintaining a fair distance, but not letting his eyes off me for one second, most likely thinking I was a shoplifter. He hid behind boxes and toys, and even went to the washroom in the urinal next to mine. At one point, he played PlayStation 3 Hockey against me, not speaking one word, except to tell me to stop swearing loudly every time he scored.

By the second hour, I had three staff members shadowing me. Now I have eight, and they're not even hiding anymore, but only keeping a few inches away. I kept tripping on one of them because he was so small. I affectionately called him Frodo, picking him up and hugging him and carrying him around, until a woman snatched him away from me and screamed that he was her little child. I angrily asked the staff members why they didn't tell me he was just a three-year-old and they all pointed at me and laughed. I really like it here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Top 5 Predictions

Dear Diary,

Harry's last act is only three days away! I didn't sleep again last night. I can't. I'm just sweating buckets, lying in soaked sheets, my eyes wide with anticipation and inexplicable horror. What could possibly happen to dear Harry in his very last book? I started this list at 3:00am this morning. It is now 8:00am and my hands are shaking. I can't believe I'm finally done. These are my top 5 predictions for what will take place in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

5. Harry Potter will graduate from Hogwarts:

This is Harry's final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He has been a good student so far, with some of his grades being better than average. Fingers crossed he keeps it up for this final stretch.

4. Snape does not have the appropriate qualifications to teach:

Snape just might get fired in this one. Not helping his case is the fact that everyone knows he murdered the headmaster.

3. Voldemort is a vegetarian:

J.K. has been hinting at this in every book. What would you serve the Dark Lord if he came over for dinner? Does he at least eat pork? Rowling has kept too mum on this one.

2. Harry is really a bastard:

Not in the sense that his parents weren't married when he was conceived, but more that he is just a bastard.

1. Harry is my father:

It's a long shot, but I'd love it if Harry was my dad. We're so much alike. Maybe we could move in together and that could be the new series: him teaching me some magic and just hanging out and stuff. As of last night, I have mailed J.K. Rowling a total of 25,567 letters requesting this since The Chamber of Secrets. Let's hope she appreciates her fans.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows song

Dear Diary,

The new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out in just a few days so I wrote a song last night. I drank nineteen cups of coffee just so I could finish it before I had to go to work this morning. I never even went to bed. I felt so inspired! So, without further adieu, here is my new song: Happy with Harry!

So happy!
With Harry,
Harry, and me
So happy!
With Harry,
I didn't say Snape, no, not me
I'll beat you
If you don't like him too
I swear, you'll get such a beat down
I'm not kidding. They'll have to call the cops
They'll give me life, after I'm done with you
Your name Malfoy? Oh no, you di'n't!

Whack! Whack! Punch! Punch!
Spit in your face! I hate you!

La la la la la la la la la la,
Whooaaaa, whooaaaa, Hoooooo, la la la Whoooooo!
Doo tee doo! Dum da dum dum

Whoooooooooo! Hooooooooooo! Mooooooooooooooo!
Bing! Bing! Bing!
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! No! No! No!
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Men who become "Friends" on Facebook

Dear Diary,

Why is it so hard for a man to ask another grown man to be his “Friend” on Facebook? Sure I can ask dozens of women whom I know to be my friend, but something about sending another man a note, asking to be friends… it's so “girly”.

Like most people, I’ve worked eight hours a day for years. But now, with Facebook, I get to really enjoy these eight hours, surfing through a maze-like Internet within the Internet, finding old friends from high school and college, but mostly finding people I wanted to be friends with in high school and college, and seeing if they’re fat now, or bald, or missing teeth, and generally look like they’re losers. I get really upset when I see someone who still looks good, or has a good job. I usually won’t eat my lunch then and I’ll look for a place to take a nap. That’s how down I’ll get.

I just joined a gym; so this morning, through Facebook, I asked this guy who goes to my gym if he wanted to be my Facebook friend and work out with me after work today. I barely know him. He’s just this guy who needed the treadmill yesterday while I was using it and the machine kept pausing because it thought I wasn’t doing anything, but I was. This guy, who I’d never seen before, told me that I was walking too slow. He added that I should at least be walking as fast as a normal person would on a sidewalk. I stopped then (stomach cramps), and as I stepped off the machine, the gym started spinning around me.

“Finally,” this guy said, and he got on the machine and started sprinting, and huffing and then going, “Ahhhhhhhh!” as he made the treadmill incline go higher and higher. It didn’t take long before he was running on an almost vertical surface. I was so impressed that I looked his name up on the treadmill reservation list. It was Paloo DeBuckachoo.

As soon as I got into the office this morning, I looked him up on Facebook and saw that he has 1002 friends! I summoned all my courage and sent him a message asking him to be my Facebook friend, and introducing myself as the guy who used the treadmill before him at the gym yesterday.

He sent me back this Facebook message:

Who the hell are you? And what are you doing creeping on my Facebook page? Weirdo! Did you think I’d start spotting you as you lifted your 3-pound dancer-cize weights, while telling you to be careful and not hurt yourself. Don’t even let me see you at the gym tonight, or I swear…

I wrote him back this message:

Dear Paloo,
I am not a weirdo, nor do I have any other intention in mind other than just to be friends with you. I hope I spelled your name right - it’s so exotic.
BTW, if you don’t want to spot me, that’s fine. I could spot you. Wouldn’t that be nice? If you already have a spotter, that’s cool. But I could be a better spotter, plus I’m really nice, and really, really want to spot you.

His reply:

I don’t know who the hell you are! Nor do I want to know you, creeper freak! Stop sending me messages.

Mine:

Paloo,
What’s one more friend on Facebook? You have 1002! I only have 2: my wife and my cat. I’d just be one more name in your collection of over a thousand in your Friends Profile. You wouldn’t even know I was there, other than I change my status line every half hour (with things like “Eric is at work”, “Eric is enjoying a half-frozen ├ęclair – Yuck!” and “Eric is not sure if he’s male, human, or a psycho!”). I also add and delete Facebook applications like I’m getting paid for it, post dozens of YouTube videos daily (sometimes the same one more than once if I think it’s funny), and send out invites to events such as “My Cat’s Cyber Birthday Parade – Please RSVP”. I have so much fun. You and I could really enjoy each other on Facebook.
Ta-ta for now,
Eric

His:

Little lonely sad man,
Enough is enough. I’ve blocked you from my Facebook page and reported you. You’ll most likely lose your Facebook account.

Mine:

Hi Paloo,
I am not Marsha the cat. I’m now actually writing you from my cat’s Facebook profile since Facebook has taken away all my Facebook privileges. I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you might be conceited (and in love with yourself and your over-treadmill-ized body). I just wanted to be your friend because you were so popular on Facebook, but I can see now that you are what is called a “Facebook Slut”. You don’t care who you sign up or ask to be your friend, as long as you keep collecting those little pictures of people pretending to be happy with their present state of affairs by having their photo taken while guzzling an alcoholic beverage, wearing an oversized funny hat and gigantic sunglasses, and hugging a whole bunch of other inebriated, sleepy-eyed, so-called friends. You love to see that Friends number go up, like your score on Mario Brothers. But do you really even have one friend? Do you? Let me tell you something. In order to have a friend, you need to be a friend (and let nice men spot you). You won’t hear from me again, or my cat. BTW, Walmart has a sale on man-leotards. Thought you might like to know.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 7: The Last Chapter

Dear Diary,

It was 4:59pm and our office and the police had just learned that the two 3-hole punches had never been stolen but that I had forgotten them in my desk drawer. I couldn't believe I had been put through such a crappy day, and demanded an apology from Sheila, our boss.

SHEILA: Here's something that might be better than an apology, and might save us the inconvenience of removing a dead body from this office: you're fired.

ME: You can't fire me.

Sheila glanced down at her watch.

SHEILA: I'm heading home. Officers, I apologize for calling you out here for... this.

ME: You're discriminating against me.

Howard huffed angrily, unable to hold back his annoyance.

HOWARD: How is she discriminating against you?

SHEILA: Howard, please, don't get him started.

ME: Well, for starters, I've always been told that I'm forgetful. That's why I forgot about the 3-hole punches. That's how you're discriminating against me. I'm remember-challenged.

SHEILA: You tried to Mace the entire office.

ME: I thought it was Febreze. I didn't remember it was Mace.

SHEILA: You are uncontrollable.

ME: I'm uncontrollable-challenged. You're still discriminating.

SHEILA: You are a volatile personality, Eric. And I can't jeopardize the safety of the rest of the people in this office.

ME: I'm volatile personality-challenged and jeopardize-the-safety-of-the-rest-of-the-people-challenged. I'm afraid I've got you in a corner there, Sheila.

Sheila sighed.

SHEILA: Will you promise to calm down, and think before you talk?

ME: You know... I have done nothing wrong here. If anything is wrong, it's you.

SHEILA: See what I mean?

ME: And all of you too!

I looked around angrily at everyone.

ME: Boy, if I had a can of Mace right now. I swear.

SHEILA: You're not helping your cause here.

ME: Howard, where did you put my Mace?

SHEILA: Eric!

I shuddered, then took a deep breath.

ME: All right. I'm making a surprise. For tomorrow. How do you all like mayonnaise-iced tuna puffs? I'm making a whole bunch. For everyone. Is that good? All right.

When I showed up for work the next day, everyone asked about the mayonnaise-iced tuna puffs.

SHEILA: No one brought their lunches today, Eric. Where are the tuna puffs?

ME: You know, I came home, my wife told me about her day, and then I ran out and rode down the hill in my soapbox car for the rest of the night. There's only so many hours in a night, you know. You people are conceited. Anybody have ten bucks to spot me until next payday? I'm starved.

I changed the subject then. But it was official: I was back! Ready to work. My name back to being as good as gold.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 6

Dear Diary,

Charisse found me in the alleyway and we cried and hugged and reminisced for ten minutes, wasting valuable time since I now only had seventeen minutes to find the 3-hole punch before Sheila went home for the day, and I was fired and possibly jailed for attempting to Mace my entire office.

ME: Dino said find one, find them all.

CHARISSE: I wonder what he meant by that.

ME: I bet you he has security cameras. I bet you he knows where my 3-hole punch is, and who took it.

CHARISSE: When you handed it to Sheila, and she put it in her drawer, did anyone else see her put it in the drawer?

I gave Charisse the most detailed description of everything that went down between Sheila and I, right down to the plants in her office and who was in all the pictures on her desk. This took a while, but I took my time. I didn't want to miss anything that could help us. I now only had three minutes to save my job, and my freedom.

I continued to talk away, describing things, including the different shades of colors of all these things, when Charisse suddenly grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back toward our building. I had given her a clue. Next thing I knew, we were both bursting through the doorway of our office.

Inside, a dozen police officers all aimed their guns at me. Everyone else in the office gasped. Melanie, the receptionist, screamed.

COP #1: He's got a hostage!

COP #2: Sir, we are all putting down our guns now. Please, do not hurt the hostage.

ME: Put 'em all down and I won't.

CHARISSE: I am not his hostage. Please. Let me show you something.

Sheila looked at us with deep suspicion in her eyes, as Charisse walked over to my cubicle, looking back at me.

CHARISSE: Let's go over what we talked about, but without the plants and the pictures and colors and stuff.

SHEILA: What is this going to solve, Charisse? You're wasting our time here.

CHARISSE (to me): Who saw Sheila put the 3-hole punch in her drawer?

ME: I'm the one who put it in her drawer. She asked me to.

CHARISSE: Did anyone see you put it there?

ME: I don't remember. I was so steaming mad and upset and dizzy with blinding fury, I don't even remember putting it in her drawer. It's all a blur, really. When I think back, all I see is unadulterated rage.

Charisse opened my top drawer... and pulled out my 3-hole punch! Everyone gasped.

ME: Who the hell put it in there!

CHARISSE: You never put it in Sheila's desk. You were too busy shouting.

I slapped my forehead.

ME: I forgot? I guess I did.

SHEILA (to the cops): Shoot him.

Everyone began to murmur amongst themselves.

CHARISSE: Dino told you to start at the beginning. I'm thinking he meant the beginning to be this morning. What was the first thing you did this morning?

ME: I was really tired. I couldn't fall asleep last night so I came to work early.

CHARISSE: At what time?

ME: Two-thirty AM.

SHEILA: Jesus...

CHARISSE: What did you do?

ME: What I always do when I come in early. I ran tests on both our punches. Which one is sharper. Which one is faster. Which one does more paper. Standard stuff. And I'm proud to say my 3-hole punch won every test.

I looked around at everyone, extremely proud of myself.

Charisse reached into my desk drawer again... and pulled out another 3-hole punch! Her green, metallic one! Everyone gasped.

ME: How the hell did that get in there?

Charisse raised an eyebrow at me. I slapped my forehead again.

ME: I forgot that one too? I guess I did.

SHEILA (to one cop): Give me your gun.

I was still confused.

ME: So no one stole anything?

CHARISSE: You just forgot.

ME: You mean I was put through this entire nightmare of a day by all of you for nothing!

I turned to Sheila then.

ME: You owe me one hell of an apology.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 5

Dear Diary,

After being accused of stealing the 3-hole punch, getting hammered, and receiving a wild, inexplicable beating from our building technician, I lay unconscious in the alleyway, along with the garbage.

A VOICE: Eric? Eric, who did this to you?

I opened my eyes.

ME: Ouch!

I looked up. Charisse, from my office, was kneeling over me.

CHARISSE: What happened?

ME: I had a talk with Dino.

CHARISSE: Stay away from him. He's a serial killer.

I sat up, painfully. I was bruised all over.

ME: That's hearsay. He's a good man.

CHARISSE: What were you doing, talking to him?

ME: What do you care? You think I stole the 3-hole punch. Everybody does.

I glanced down at my watch.

ME: It's four-thirty. I have half an hour to find the punch before Sheila goes home for the day, or I'm going to lose my job tomorrow.

CHARISSE: Oh, it's much worse than that. Sheila had the police over.

ME: What? Ouch, my ribs. My back...

CHARISSE: They're looking for you. Everyone is scared you're going to come after them with Mace.

ME: I would but I ran out. Why aren't you scared of me? I already sprayed you once today.

CHARISSE: I know you didn't steal the 3-hole punch.

ME: Because you did?

CHARISSE: No. Because if you had your own 3-hole punch, you'd be jubilant, like you finally had everything you've ever wanted. You wouldn't be pepper-spraying everybody in the office.

ME: I would if I didn't want to leave behind any witnesses.

CHARISSE: You can't kill someone with Mace.

ME: You can if you have enough cans and you stand close enough. Just keep spraying and spraying.

CHARISSE: I know you're upset. I'm upset too. I lost a 3-hole punch too, you know.

ME: I know.

We both cried then. And hugged. And reminisced about our 3-hole punches. And cried again, and hugged, and reminisced about our 3-hole punches. We did this for at least ten minutes. This now gave me only 17 minutes to recover the 3-hole punch, save my job and possibly keep myself out of jail.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 4

Dear Diary,

After the last remaining 3-hole punch went missing from our office, and I got blamed for it, and then got drunk during lunch and attempted to Mace everyone in our office, I was told by Sheila, our boss, to go home and that we'd talk tomorrow. She was going to fire me; I was certain of it. As hard as I tried, I couldn't come up with any other reason why she'd want to talk to me tomorrow.

On my way out of our building, still quite drunk, I collapsed in the revolving door and passed out cold, trapping an elderly gentleman in the glass compartment opposite me. As he banged on the glass in a completely futile attempt to wake me, other men and women in business suits stood outside impatiently. I was making them all late for an important meeting. I was later told that the elderly gentleman was trapped inside the compartment for a full three hours before Dino, our building technician, finally freed him in an intense procedure which involved carefully removing all the glass while everything was documented on camera by all five local news teams.

I woke up in a large, dark, hot room, laid out on a table. I sat up frantically. Dino, who is in his fifties, stood before me, staring me straight in the eye.

ME: Where am I?

DINO: The boiler room.

ME: I'm scared.

DINO: Not enough.

ME: What are you going to do to me!

Dino dropped his heavy hand onto my shoulder and gripped it painfully.

DINO: Relax.

ME: I don't feel so well.

DINO: I made you some espresso. Drink it.

I did as I was told.

ME: This is really good. Delicious.

DINO: Shut up.

ME: All right.

DINO: You need to grow up. You need to be a man.

I cried then.

DINO: Stop it!

ME (through my tears): Thanks for taking such good care of me.

Dino slapped me across the face.

ME: Ouch!

DINO: Wake up!

ME: I am up!

The look in his eyes really scared me.

ME: What are you going to do to me! Please don't hurt me! Please. Please.

DINO: In life. Wake up. You've been sleeping your whole life.

ME: That's ridiculous.

I finally exhaled, and lightly touched my stinging cheek.

ME: Dino, you sure you're not a serial killer? Everybody says so. Since the day I started here.

DINO: And everybody says you're a cry-baby.

I bawled some more.

ME: That's hurtful.

DINO: The 3-hole punch. It's still in the building.

I quickly wiped the tears away.

ME: What did you just say?

DINO: You're just looking in the wrong place.

ME: Where? Dino, where is the 3-hole punch?

DINO: If you want to know, you need to start at the beginning.

ME: The beginning?

DINO: The first 3-hole punch. From the dead man.

A chill sparkled down my spine.

ME: You mean Charisse's punch?

DINO: Find one, find them all.

ME: Dino, just tell me where it is for crying out loud. You're like Ryan Seacrest before a commercial break over here.

DINO: I've said too much. You have to go. Now!

ME: You're being rude.

Dino slapped me again. I cried.

DINO: Stop your crying, baby-man!

ME (through my tears): Why won't you let people see the real you. Taking me down here, making me espresso. No one's ever been this nice to me since I started here.

DINO: I said leave!

He struck me with the back of his hand. I cried louder.

ME: I mean it. When people say you're killing people down here, they don't really know you.

DINO: Get!

He punched me in the stomach. I bent over, coughing.

ME: You're a beautiful person. I wish people could see that.

He performed a scissor kick to my chin. I fell back.

ME: Just let someone in, for Pete's sake, like you did me, you beautiful man.

He rammed me into the door, and I fell out into the back alley. He then slammed a metal trash can against my back and knee-ed me in the face.

He left me there, in the garbage-strewn alleyway, unconscious. But I was on my way. I finally had a lead: find one, find them all. It was already 4:12pm and I had just under one hour to save my job. The minutes were ticking away, as I lay there, still unconscious.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 3

Dear Diary,

Everyone now thought that it was I who stole the sole remaining 3-hole punch in our office. In the lunch room, no one sat with me. Howard finally placed his lunch bag down on my table, and while sitting, slammed down a black spray can. Everyone turned to look. Howard is an ex-army drill Sargent in his sixties and extremely intimidating.

HOWARD: When you walked out of Sheila’s office, right after she discovered the 3-hole punch missing from her desk, this fell out of your pocket.

ME: What is it?

HOWARD: Come on. You know what it is.

ME: Nope.

HOWARD: What the hell were you up to in there?

I looked over at everyone. They were still all staring at us. I turned back nervously toward Howard.

ME: How do you know that spray can’s mine? You can’t prove it.

HOWARD: Everyone saw it fall from your pocket and then roll out onto the floor. You were just shouting like you always do. You never heard it.

ME (whispering): Okay, you’re on my team, so I can tell you this.

HOWARD: There are no teams anymore, Eric. Not after what you did.

ME: What did I do?

HOWARD: You tried to take matters into your own hands.

ME (whispering): Howard, I don’t want anyone else to know what I was going to do, so I’m going to whisper it to you now.

Everyone started to move their chairs and tables closer to us.

ME (whispering): I was going take the punch, and then use this can of Mace on Sheila.

HOWARD: What?

Everyone gasped. I picked up the spray can.

ME: That’s what this is. It’s Mace.

HOWARD: Eric, you crossed the line.

ME: What’s everyone got against Mace?

Howard stood from the table, looking down at me in disgust.

HOWARD: Your name is dirt around here.

I swallowed, shameful.

ME: Dirt? What about Coco? You can all call me Coco and laugh, and point at me while you ridicule me. But dirt, that’s low.

HOWARD: Well, if the shoe fits.

ME: Howard, no!

HOWARD: Come on guys, let’s get out of here. I’ve lost my appetite.

ME: Well, maybe not everyone else lost their appetite. You’re being presumptuous.

HOWARD: You took the 3-hole punch. Admit it.

ME: I didn’t. And by the way, I was just going to use this to threaten Sheila.

I lifted the can of Mace.

ME: I don’t even know how to use this. See.

I pressed the cap, and accidentally sprayed Charisse who was walking past. She screamed, grasping at her eyes.

All the men tackled me to the floor then, removing the Mace from my hand.

I clawed at them.

ME: Give me that! I need that!

Everyone moved away, helping a hysterical Charisse out of the lunch room. I stayed on the floor.

ME: Isn’t anyone going to help me back up. You didn’t just find me like this?

When I finally returned to work from lunch, I was late, and completely wasted, stumbling through the office with three cans of Mace, spraying everywhere.

ME: I didn’t do it!

All the men rushed toward me.

ME: So we’re doing this again.

The men slammed me to the floor.

ME: I had it all! I had it all! Just a few hours ago, I walked into this place on top of the world. I was the captain of my own team. And we had such a cause! We had a cause! You were my brothers and sisters. I would have gone to the wall for you! And you for me! Now look at us!

Sheila, our boss, stepped close, looking down at me, shaking her head.

SHEILA: Go home. We’ll talk tomorrow.

I cried then.

ME: I had it all… Just this morning… I had it all… My very own 3-hole punch…

Diary, believe me as I write this: I didn’t lift the 3-hole punch from Sheila’s desk. But someone had. I had to clear my name. Someone was going down.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 2

Dear Diary,

The war rages on. Quick recap of last entry: there were two 3-hole punches in our office, at either end. One was kept in Charisse's cubicle (she requires one often) and the other was kept in mine (I also require one frequently). There was also this whacked tale about a poisoned dead man from long ago. Anyway, Charisse's 3-hole punch went missing and there are now two very distinct camps in our office: those who sit by Charisse and want the sole remaining 3-hole punch kept in her cubicle, and those who sit near me and want the punch in my cubicle. Oh yeah, and Sheila, our boss, won't let us order a new punch. She thinks that one in a small office is sufficient.

Sheila walked out of her office with the final decision from head office. We all waited with bated breath. The tension was thicker than peanut butter mixed with cement. Sheila just opened her mouth, and already I gasped audibly, interrupting her before she actually said anything. She looked sternly in my direction. I gasped again.

"We got it, didn't we!" I shouted as I threw up my hands in victory. "Oh yeah! Oh yeah!" I continued as I high-fived everyone on my team. "Lunch is on me!" I went on as I started out of the office and my people followed me. "Let's get smashed!"

Charisse put her face in her hands. I think she was sobbing. Don, who was on her team, hugged her then.

"Eric," Sheila said. "Eric...."

"What?" I said, as I was in the process of lifting myself onto my team's shoulders.

"Get down. Come back here."

"What?" I said incredulously. I didn't like the look on her face. "What's happening here!"

"Head office is deliberating."

"NO!"

"Yes. A decision might not be reached until next week."

I pointed at Charisse and hollered, "I will make your life hell!"

"Eric, enough," Don said, as he continued to console Charisse.

"Don, stay out of this!" I shouted. "You are not the one I want to hurt!"

"The 3-hole punch will be kept in my office until we hear back from head office," Sheila announced.

Charisse was now crying very loudly. I was crying too.

We all sat down in our cubicles, ordered by Sheila to return to work as she took the 3-hole punch into her office. I immediately knocked on Sheila's door.

"Yes," Sheila said, as she looked up from all the paperwork on her desk.

"I need to use the 3-hole punch," I replied, sheepishly.

"All right. But bring it right back when you're done."

I was on edge. "Please just give it to me," I said timidly, on the verge of a breakdown.

There was another knock at the door. I turned around. Charisse walked in.

"I need to use the 3-hole punch," she said, wiping the tears from her cheeks.

"I was here first," I said. "So I get to use it first."

"I'll wait here until he's done," Charisse told Sheila.

"You can't," Sheila said. "You need to get to back to your desk and do some other work."

"I can't," Charisse responded, shaking like an addict in withdrawal. "I need to punch holes into the pages. The pages need their holes. That's the only way."

"My pages need their holes too," I countered, now really annoyed. "So you'll just have to wait." I turned to Sheila. "Sheila, let's have it. Please, there's only so many hours in the day."

"It's gone..." Sheila revealed, as she stared wide-eyed into her empty desk drawer. "I just put it here a minute ago."

"Empty your pockets," I ordered Charisse.

"I don't have it," she replied.

I stormed out of Sheila's office and announced, "Everyone, the 3-hole punch is missing!"

Everyone gasped.

"That's right!" I continued to shout. "I want everyone to empty out all their desks and cubicles! Howard, you empty out Charisse's desk and rifle through her things. I want all her belongings taken apart. Purse, hard-drive, everything. Folks, sorry to say this, but we might be here until tomorrow morning."

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cubicle Wars, Part 1

Dear Diary,

The lines are being drawn at the office. It all began when the 3-hole punch at the other end of the office went missing; the one at Charisse's cubicle (personally, I think Derek took it home). There is only one other 3-hole punch at our firm, and since I'm the only other person who uses a punch on a daily basis, this second unit is kept at my desk. If someone uses this punch, they have to bring it back to my cubicle within three minutes. That's my rule. I don't want to have to look for my 3-hole punch when I need it most. As soon as someone asks to borrow it, I place one hand on the punch and use the other to set the stopwatch on my Timex. I then yell, "Go!", press start on the stopwatch and lift my hand off the punch. As my colleague rushes to their own cubicle to punch holes, I yell out the remaining time at five-second intervals. It's very effective, especially since I've posted a "black-balled" list of those who have gone over the three-minute limit. Charisse should have taken notes; maybe her punch wouldn't be missing now.

Once the first punch went missing, all eyes turned to me hungrily: I was now the only game in town. Sheila, our boss, refused to let Charisse order another, saying that we already had one in the office and one was all we needed. The missing punch had been left behind by a long-ago employee who had brought it from his own home, and then died in our office after a heart attack (some say he was poisoned), and afterwards, his widow had never bothered to pick his things up. Sheila elaborated that since the office had once made due with only one 3-hole punch, we could do it again. Besides, she added, we use less paper now and we could all learn to share the one remaining. I said fine but added that everybody would have to retain adherence to my three-minute rule. That's when Charisse hit the roof.

Charisse stated that she was not walking from one end of the office to the other just to grab the 3-hole punch and then making a second trip to return it. She wanted the 3-hole punch kept at her cubicle. She added that she had more seniority, having been with our accounting firm for over twelve years, whereas I wasn't even an accountant, did menial work, and had only been with the firm for two weeks. That's when I completely lost it. I screamed that whereas Charisse might have more seniority in general, I had more seniority with this particular 3-hole punch, and it was staying in my cubicle and I didn't want to hear another word.

A few people who sit around me backed me up (they didn't want to walk all the way to stinky Charisse's desk just to grab a 3-hole punch and then make a second trip just to return it). Those who sat closest to Charisse backed her up, including Ruthie, a 93-year-old accountant who's had several hip replacements and smashes into things because she can barely see anymore. In fact, one of her eyes is now completely shut, and sometimes covered with an eyepatch. She also always brags about not only being the first female accountant at our firm, but in the country. She's such a pain. But everyone loves her, even though she makes a dozen accounting mistakes a day, barks orders at everyone and head office has tried to force her into retirement for decades now, but she's so feisty, she keeps outsmarting them and has forced several of our presidents into retirement themselves. She also brings in fresh, homemade, baked goods every day for those who may have missed breakfast. I don't trust her.

There were now two camps of people standing before Sheila, our boss. That's when Derek, some guy I haven't liked since day one and who sits beside me, tried to say something in my defense. I cut him off and told him straight away that I didn't want him on our team, I didn't care where he sat. I pointed at Charisse and told him to join her team. I didn't need to explain myself.

Sheila appealed to me to compromise. Ruthie was older and should not be made to overexert herself just to get a 3-hole punch. That's when I stared at Ruthie and said, "Are you going to take that sitting down? Even though you can barely stand? She's calling you old and decrepit." Ruthie freaked, wagged her index finger all over and really laid into Sheila, calling her a phony and threatening to have her cut from the firm if she ever heard that nonsense and **** from her again. I yelled, "That's right! Stop ageism now! Stop it! For heaven's sake!"

Unfettered, Sheila asked that perhaps the 3-hole punch be kept in the middle of the office, at Don's desk. That way, no one would have to walk across the entire office. I immediately countered that her solution was unacceptable and logically unsound since both myself and Charisse sit at either extremes of the office and would then have to walk further than anyone else. Charisse nodded in agreement. I smiled, and winked at her. Sheila threw her hands up in despair. We were breaking her down. Finally. She turned toward her office and said that she would call head office, and then formulate a solution. I called out that the solution better come quickly since I wasn't moving a muscle until everything was resolved. I then let her know that no one on my team was moving a muscle either, until a decision was reached. In our favor.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Yes, I'm gonna be a star

Dear Diary,

Do celebrities really have it all? I thought celebrities were supposed to be glamorous and beautiful, jetting off to exotic lands and attending lavish galas. But all I see is celebrities smashing cars, like Deathrace 2000. Here's what I think: bring back the limousine! I know it's retro, but with a chauffeur, it could work. On movie sets, hand out taxi chits. Car pool. With Gabrielle Cateris. She seems like a responsible driver.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Water Cooler Guy

Dear Diary,

For the first few weeks at a new job, I’ll be the quietest employee around and no one will know a thing about me. Essentially, I’ll creep everyone out with my quietness. Bottom line: I’ll be invisible, and a mute. If someone talks to me, or asks me a question, I won’t answer back. I’ll pretend that they’re not there, beside me, as if I’m not there myself, like they imagined me, and they’re a crazy person, imagining employees in the office that aren’t even there. And I’ll be giggling, on the inside.

Two weeks will go by, and that’s when I’ll start to stand by the water cooler for a few minutes a day, offering bits of conversation, like what was on television the night before. After a week or so, I’ll begin to offer more television information, such as what’s on tonight, what to watch out for, and what’s going to be a rerun. Then, after a day or so, I’ll stand by the water cooler for a few hours at a time, offering plot recaps, plot spoilers and cast member contract negotiation details. By the time I’ve been given a verbal warning the following week, I’ve moved my cubicle up to the water cooler, held contests such as Most Memorable Pat Sajak tie patterns, and have re-enacted the previous evening’s entire prime-time schedule, playing all the characters, with commercials intact.