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Chapter 1 Excerpt

It all starts with the printer

“Um, excuse me but the printer doesn’t seem to be working – do you know what’s wrong with it”.

“No”, she replied, smiling in a way that did not quite put a twinkle in her eyes.

“Well what should we do?”

“What does the error message say?”

“Don’t know.  Where are the error messages?”

“There on the front LCD panel.”

“Oh.  Um, I’m not sure.  I think it says out of paper, so what should we do?”

“Well YOU need to put paper in it”

“Oh … I am very busy and in a hurry – could you do that, I don’t know where the paper is.”

Posted by the Philosopher
Why is that in corporate offices around the world that every printer has clearly defined invisible lines marking its territory that is fiercely guarded by those that generally use the printer?  If you are a poor lost soul that has accidentally sent your print job to the wrong queue – beware of the printer guard dogs.  They will scare you away even before your last page has rolled out of the machine.  Now, why is it that if that printer is ill having caught the gremlin bug, is suffering from paper indigestion, is out of toner or simply stuffed that the centre of territorial corporate warfare is discarded like rotting refuse?  Suddenly that printer is someone else’s problem.

From my office, I could hear the huffing as her footsteps thumped down the corridor.   Any moment now she will be here, standing beside my desk.  I cannot wait.

“OK, OK I know that my job is administration and all, and I am here to support the team and I like to support the team and do stuff for everyone, and sometimes I have to do random stuff, and that random stuff is great but where the hell does it say in my job description that I am responsible for that freakin’ printer and that just because those- those – those – people in accounts are too ‘busy’ to read the freakin error messages or to ring IT, that I have to stop whatever it is I’m doing and go and help them out just because I sit near the damn thing.  It isn’t even our printer; it’s account’s.  And can you believe it I was even on the phone and she just stood there and started talking to me …I mouthed to her and signalled – I’m on the phone … but she just kept talking, talking, talking, waving her arms around like … AHHHH … “

I looked up from my screen.  Caitlyn hadn’t even drawn a breath yet. Her face, her body so animated that I had to suppress a chuckle that was threatening to rise up and escape.

“Yer, yer, yer, yer, yer – I know – I just had to get it off my chest.  I just get frustrated sometimes.  I hope you don’t mind?  By the way your meeting at eleven has been changed to three this afternoon.  No reason.”

I smiled, a tired but hopefully reassuring smile.  “Thanks – By the way, it doesn’t.”

“What doesn’t?”

“Your job description.  It doesn’t say you have to look after that printer. “

“What can I do? What can I do?  When we reorganised the office to make room for the new guys, we were the ones that got IT to find another printer and set it up for accounts, to stop all those problems we use to have when we were trying to do a major print run and they would just stand there waiting for that single page print, and keep popping around saying, so how much more have you got to print, how long will you be … Gawd … Ask the printer how long it is going to take to print 3000 pages, don’t ask me”

“You know you could always unplug the printer?  Good for the environment, I hear.”

Caitlyn chuckled, “Don’t tempt me you evil woman!, don’t tempt me.”

For all the ranting and raving and speaking at a hundred (no, make that two hundred) words a minute, Caitlyn was not just administrative support.  She was great administrative support.  But, you could tell that there was something different about her.

In the right light, at the vortex where the three universes collide, you could see that she wasn’t any ordinary great administrative support employee.  The shimmer of the vortex accentuated her forest elf qualities.  Her lithe body, alert and ready with energy,  her bow and quiver comfortably slung across her left shoulder.

Reader Comment:
Now just one minute there, Nano Writer.  What’s this about three universes and a vortex.  Is the world as we know it about to end?
Nano Writer Response:
I can refer you to the Philosopher’s guide to becoming a corporate hero.  We all know about parallel universes, there just happens at this time to be three known universes. Now I’m not the Philosopher but I am sure that there are others out there.
There’s the ordinary universe – you picking up this book, reading  the words, turning the pages.  Dear reader, I am assuming for the moment that you are not dressed in lycra, sprouting wings and developing  a green goblin’s wart skin disease to prove the validity of the ordinary universe.
There’s the unreal or absurd universe – the fact that you have made a comment in this text and I am responding to you lends evidence to the existence of the absurd universe.  You recognise the absurd universe, because you might say to yourself – “you’ve got to be kidding – that’s ridiculous”.  You may have seen glimpses of the absurd universe.  You know those times when looking at shadows, you think “Is that what I think it is” and then instantly dismiss it as absurd that you would have seen two dragons frolicking on a windswept plain when walking you way to work”.  Here, in the absurd universe, dear reader, you may find yourself admiring your Lycra and whilst you are ruffling your resplendent wings wonder if the cut of your attire complements your green wart skin condition.
Then there’s the e-niverse.  It is all around us, those electro-magnetic spaceship probes couriering messages around the ether like an invisible spider’s web.  Only those that have never watched television, made a phone call, sent an email or SMS, written a blog, or used a remote control to open the garage door may be harder to convince the existence of the e-niverse.  But then, if any of those people have not called on magic, or the spirits, or lived in a dream – then I have depleted by limited knowledge of the e-niverse to validate its existence.  In the e-niverse, we can promote our narcissism and others will listen.
Reader Comment:
Ok, you have made some interesting arguments there  which I will need some time to digest and put into perspective, but you still haven’t explained The Vortex.
Nano Writer Response:
Now the vortex – that is a mysterious place, a potential black hole.  Not that I can confidently say I know a great deal about black holes – never been to one…
Reader Comment:
I must say Nano Writer, you certainly mix in some strange company.  But for now I will take you at your word.  I’m only reading this so that I can fall asleep.
Nano Writer Response:
Well your overwhelming enthusiasm serves my failing confidence.  Now dear reader,  I would like to take you back to the story before the world ends.
Reader Comment:
So the world is going to end?

I looked out across the corporate car park, contemplating the change in meeting times.   I had rescheduled my schedule to fit it in which meant that I had missed Jesse’s science day at school – again.  That was the third time this year (and it was not even the end of March).  The disappointment in his eyes was palpable, and I felt that twinge of guilt one more time.

My thoughts drifted.   At the pit of my stomach, I felt as though I was about to fall into the Vortex.  What battle would ensue today?

Caitlyn was one of the earliest recruits to the Corporate Heroes secret society.   She was inspirational, zany at times, thoughtful and caring.   I was not surprised the first time in the Absurd when she revealed her secret identity.  In the real world, her acute hearing, care for the natural environment and speed at getting things done were the only signs of her forest elf heritage.   But in the Absurd, she transformed.  Caitlyn became Da Link.  Her arrows would fly true, penetrating and accurate.  She always seemed to be in the middle of whatever was going on.  She had this uncanny ability to eke out information that the rest of us couldn’t get our hands on.  In the Absurd, Da Link was the link.

The Corporate Heroes was still a fledging society of disparate and unlikely individuals banded together.   I wondered, like I had many times before, if the formation of the Corporate Heroes was just a random – happened to be in the same place, same time –  situation, or whether there were other forces at play.  There were others, other than Da Link, like SuperBadger, e-girl, x-Sel, Gollihog.  I never felt so alive as I did when I was around the Corporate Heroes either in the Ordinary or the Absurd – they inspired me and gave me energy to push the boundaries and believe.

With a sense of good will, my thoughts flowed to more mysterious concerns.

I had heard the Philosopher stream into my unconscious many times in the past, but never before had she asked me to …

A beep brought me back from my meandering thoughts – an Outlook reminder to finish the monthly Board report.  I never get any feedback from the report, so I doubt if it even gets read.  Sometimes I am tempted to write some ridiculous comments into the body of the report such as “same as last month, different from last month, and hey why not ask to find out why”, just to see what would happen.  Sadly, probably nothing, which would just prove the theory (although I don’t want it to be proven) that the Board don’t care what is in my monthly report…

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