Office Politics

By: Dan Fiorella

Re-elect Jon Chironna for Copy Boy

“I promise to continue my record of crisp, clean copies for all!” — Jon Chironna

Why bring in new blood when Jon’s blood is just fine.

— Paid for by the Jon Chironna Re-election Committee

Vote Tom Drummon for Copy Boy

He stands for:

* Every photocopy in blinding full color!

* No lineups ever in the copy room!

* Photocopies of documents you might need additional copies of for future use!

Tom stands for what’s right. Tom sits for what’s right. So do what’s right. Vote Tom.

— Committee to elect Tom Drummon Copy Boy

Can we really go back to the Copy Room Malaise of fall ’99?

Remember the two-week-long toner drought?

Remember the finger smears on the glass that wouldn’t come off?

Remember the “hairy butt incident”?

Can we afford four more years of that?

Vote Smith & Vitelli ’03

“Keepin’ the copies flowing like water!”

— Committee to Elect Smith & Vitelli

Do you like paper jams?

If so, vote Smith & Vitelli!

— Committee to elect Tom Drummon Copy Boy

Do you like Copy Boys who can’t even handle double-sided legal-sized briefs over 40 pages?

If so, vote Tom Drummon!

If not, vote for a professional.

— Committee to Elect Smith & Vitelli

Hi, I’m Stan Delaney, former Copy Boy. You know me, and you know Jon Chironna. You know his copies. Crisp, clean, and collated. Jon follows the Triple C method of copying to perfection. Now ask yourself this: Are your copies better now than they were four years ago? Why, hell yes they are! Don’t turn back the clock to the dark, pre-digital days. We’re on the edge of a copier revolution and Jon Chironna is responsible for that. He wants to build a bridge to the copy room of tomorrow. Jon sees the copiers of tomorrow. He sees them humming and whirring on a bed of crazy green lasers. He sees them flying over to your desk on fiber-optic cables to deliver you your copies and your morning bagel. He sees them having awkward, clunky sex and producing stronger, faster photocopier offspring. Won’t you help bring in the future? I’m voting for Jon, you should too. “Re-elect Jon Chironna as Copy Boy. He’s an original.”

— Paid for by the Toner Society

Both Jon and Stan are part of a disgraced system. It’s time for a real change.

Vote for Harvey in Accounting for Copy Room Technician. He’ll bring “balance” to this current “liability.”

“New blood, new ideas, new vision, a guy named Harvey, great copies.”

— Soft Money Committee for Harvey

Jon Chironna wants to be re-elected Copy Boy. He tells you productivity is up. He tells you copies are plentiful. But what isn’t he telling you?

* Did you know that Jon Chironna has been caught using recycled paper?

* Did you know that Jon Chironna has been spotted resting his coffee on the feeder tray?

* Did you know that Jon Chironna may or may not lick his fingers between turning the pages of your document?

* Did you know that Jon Chironna’s real name is Jonathan Chironna? What other grades of paper will Jon stoop to using? What other hot beverages might Jon rest on the feeder tray? What rare, tropical diseases does Jon’s spittle contain? And what other mysterious aliases does this evil photocopying mastermind have? Vote Jon and we’ll unfortunately all find out.

— Committee to Elect Smith & Vitelli

Hi. I’m Jon Chironna. First, I just wanted to thank my supporters and staff, both those who are helping me in my re-election campaign and those who have made the last four years the most productive years this copy room has ever seen. Our run rate is up over 14% versus the previous three fiscals, and our toner to page ratio is the highest this company has ever seen. Canon has given me the Smudgefree Man Of The Year Award for two years running, and I have passed the Xerox Olympics test of producing a spiral-bound double-sided 200-page PowerPoint presentation on high-gloss paper with a blindfold on. I can run on my record of crisp, clean copies and a spotless record of collation. And I hope you agree when I say: I’m voting for myself. I mean, I’m voting for Jon Chironna, whether or not that is actually me. Thank you. Please vote Jon.

— Collation Coalition to Re-elect Jon


Super-Condensed Classics

By: Mollie Wilson

Who hasn’t had the experience of plodding through a “classic” novel, longing for some action? New Super-Condensed Classics preserve the excitement of well-known stories without all the filler — the substance of literature without the starch. The result is an exciting short story that’s the perfect length for today’s busy reader to digest!


Jane Eyre

(based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë)

“Oh, sir!” I heard myself exclaim, with controlled but undeniable passion. “I am so plain!” He seemed not to hear me, so fierce was his concentration as he violently unlaced my bodice. I tried to remember his name — we had been introduced moments ago, just before he shooed the housekeeper and my young charge from the study and bounded up the great staircase to his bedroom, with me in his arms. Edgar? Mr. Robinson? My mind was a blank. “Jane, Jane!” he cried, like a wounded animal. He knew my name; that much was clear.

He was rough and passionate, and perhaps to another woman he might have seemed ugly, but so intoxicated was I by his presence that I scarcely noticed that the bed was on fire — literally aflame — until my employer’s shirtsleeves caught fire as well. “Oh, sir!” I exclaimed again, and suddenly he was tearing about the bedchamber, calling for water. I heard someone cackling in the hallway, and for a moment I was transported back to my childhood, with its scenes of cruel torment and red furniture. Meanwhile, my secret lover was plunging his immolated head into the washbasin in the corner of the room.

“Is that marriage?” he demanded rhetorically, his voice garbled by the water in the basin. “To be yoked to a creature like that madwoman?” He was blind now, but he sensed my presence nearby, and with his good hand he resumed his former occupation of undressing me. Averting my eyes from his disfigured visage, I glanced out the window just in time to see a dark-skinned woman with wild hair falling past it to her death. “Bertha!” my partner shouted, and I knew he had begun to regain the sight in one of his eyes. “I shall never leave your side,” I whispered passionately. “Jane, Jane!” he whispered back. Reader, I still could not remember his name.



(based on the novel by Herman Melville)

“Ishmael!” Queequeg called me on the intercom, shouting to be heard over the roar of the engines. “Remind me — why are we chasing this whale again?”

I scanned the water below for our target — the giant, immaculate killer who feasted on men’s limbs — and tightened my grip on the tail gun. I could hear Ahab cursing in the cockpit, and I knew that he, too, was scanning the ocean with an almost religious fervor. I wondered if there might be something literally religious about all this, but I could barely hear myself think over the engine’s noise. “Interesting how the whale is white, isn’t it?” I shouted to Queequeg. “I can’t understand you,” he yelled back.

Just as I was wondering why I had ever enlisted in the first place, Ahab suddenly screamed, “There!” and I saw the nose of his plane jerk violently downwards. Queequeg and I both opened fire on the water that churned below. “Pull up! Pull up!” I shouted to Ahab, wondering why we had consented to let him pilot a jet when he’s so obviously insane. He gave no answer, so I kept shooting, until the water beneath us was dyed with the whale’s blood.

“Did we win or lose?” I shouted to Queequeg over the roar of the ocean surf. “Glug glug,” he answered as he sank beneath the waves. This will all make one hell of a memoir, I thought to myself — and damned if I’m not the only one left to write it.


Fifteen Minutes of Solitude

(based on the novel by Gabriel García Márquez)

A few days later, Miguel Juan Ramirez was to remember that afternoon when he waited a quarter of an hour for Rosa to show up. Lunch at the Cafeteria had been her idea — he had tried to talk her out of it, but to no avail; she was a dreamer, and this was where she had decided to eat. The quesadillas were beyond belief, Rosa had said, and she swore that the margaritas were nothing short of magical. So he waited, and watched the clock. Five minutes went by. Six. He thought about sex. Eight. Nine. He wondered, if he were really desperate, would he have sex with his sister? Twelve. Thirteen. What about with Rosa’s mother?

Finally, Rosa was fifteen minutes late, and Miguel decided to call her. Just as he finished dialing, he heard a voice behind him say, “Sorry I was so late.” It was Rosa. Miguel hung up the phone. He was no longer alone.

They had a lovely lunch.


A Day In The Laugh: If Life Had A Laugh Track

By: Michael Pershan

SCENE: My Bedroom — 6:30 a.m.

I am enjoying a deep slumber. My limp body is in an odd yet comfortable position on my bed. My sheets have fallen off the bed. As I am in the middle of a snore the alarm clock goes off.

Me: [grumbling] Oh come on…just five more minutes?

[laugh track]


SCENE: My Bathroom — 6:45 a.m.

I walk into the bathroom wearing boxers and a t-shirt. I scratch my chest and neck and turn on the sink. Visibly tired, I cup my hands in the sink and collect a pool of water. I attempt to splash the water on my face, but miss.

Me: Not again!

[laugh track]


SCENE: Starbucks — 7:23 a.m.

I walk into the Starbucks and get in line. Soon, it’s my turn to order.

STARBUCKS: Hello, how can I help you?

ME: Well, for starters you could’ve made my alarm clock go off ten minutes later.

[laugh track]

STARBUCKS: What the hell was that?

ME: What do you mean?

STARBUCKS: The people cheering and clapping. You know, like a laugh track.

ME: I have no idea what you are talking about.

[laugh track]


SCENE: My office — 8:02 a.m.

SECRETARY: Hi, Michael. How was your weekend?

ME: Great. It was great. Just great.

[laugh track]

SECRETARY: What was that?

ME: I was telling you about my weekend.

SECRETARY: Not that. The laughing.

ME: I think you had one too many cups of coffee, sister.

[laugh track]


SCENE: Board Meeting — 9:01 a.m.

A group of bored employees are sitting around a large mahogany table. A man in a new black suit is standing in the front of the room with a clipboard and a projector. He is pointing to the projector with his pen and talking in a monotone.

GUY WITH CLIPBOARD: So you see that profits in the third quarter of last year dipped, but rebounded by the end of the fourth…

ME: [in a whisper, to the Indian guy sitting next to me] This guy’s so bad, he’s making the chair look good.

[laugh track]

Everyone turns to me.

BOSS: You’re fired.

[sympathetic ohhhhhs]


SCENE: My apartment — 11:03 a.m.

I step into my apartment. I look very upset. I throw down my suitcase and coat. I go to my bed and flop down on my back with my face pointed towards the ceiling.

ME: I can’t believe I got fired.

[Sympathetic moans]

I feel worthless. Life is meaningless. I have no friends and have just gotten fired. This not only upsets me due to the income I will be losing, but also because my being let go is another failure in a life chock-full of failures. I don’t want to be awake anymore — I just want to let myself go into eternal sleep. I lean back into my pillow, tears trickling down my cheeks. I am very upset and I want to die.

I roll over in my bed to get in a more comfortable position. I fall off the bed.

[laugh track]


The Kafka Convention

By: Kurt Luchs

“What do you mean you can’t find my briefcase?” K.’s voice rose harshly above the general clatter and muttering at the airport’s baggage claim area. It was not the first time he had asked that question that morning. Once more, with diminishing patience, the official-looking young clerk gave his explanation.

“Sir, I’ve told you all I know. We have no record of your briefcase ever being on board this or any other flight. We show no luggage for you at all. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I don’t even find you on the seating chart. Unless you can produce a ticket stub of some kind…” He let the sentence dangle in the air, as if to underscore the nebulous nature of K.’s claim. His bright blue uniform gave him the appearance of a policeman, and for some reason the sight of his shiny but useless epaulets filled K. with a vague apprehension. Nonetheless, K. was shouting and gesticulating wildly. People nearby looked up in curiosity.

“I’m telling you for the last time. My ticket stub is gone, vanished — poof! You understand? Somehow my overcoat became confused with that of another passenger, and I now wear the garment of a Doctor Thomas Mann. See? Here’s his ticket stub!” K. waved a ragged scrap of pasteboard in the clerk’s immobile face.

“If you’re suggesting I give you Doctor Mann’s baggage, I’m afraid I can’t do that either,” said the young man, who had already begun to process the papers of the customer just behind K.

“I don’t want Doctor Mann’s baggage, you imbecile!” Without thinking, he had grabbed the clerk by the lapels and lifted him clear off his toes. When he heard another clerk mention calling security, K. suddenly became quiet, almost apologetic. He let go of the clerk’s collar and even brushed a June bug off one of his epaulets. “I only want what’s coming to me. My briefcase, you understand, no other’s. I’m not looking for any favors, but my briefcase happens to contain the only existing copy of my thesis, which I am to deliver later today at the convention.”

“Oh? And what convention might that be?” the clerk said with a sneer that made the other customers titter.

“The K-kafka C-convention,” K. stuttered. But for a nearly imperceptible look of horror, the clerk’s face remained blank. K. continued with feverish enthusiasm. “Franz K-kafka, the writer. In my thesis I compare him to a variety of intestinal worm, you see, a species whose appetite and capacity for guilt are equally immense. Such parasites usually starve themselves to d-d-death, in a sense.”

“To b-b-be sure,” mocked the clerk, “but if you’ll excuse me…” Everyone laughed but K., who turned red and started to back away.

“Of course, of course,” he said. “Never mind me.” He stumbled into an obese, unkempt woman who was openly nursing the largest infant K. had ever seen. Despite the sickening bluish tint of the child’s skull, K. felt obliged to pat it and say something, however banal: “Nice baby.” At that moment the head came up to bite his hand, and K. found to his amazement and repulsion that it belonged not to a child but to a wizened old man with smacking gums. The octogenarian giggled inanely and snatched K.’s alpine hat from his head.

“My hat! Mine!” screeched the old man with delight. The woman removed a large sausage from her handbag and began to methodically beat K. with it.

“Filth!” she yelled.

“Of course,” said K. He had backed all the way to the edge of the up escalator, and now tumbled backwards down the sharp metal stairs. He could hear more laughter and what sounded like applause coming from above as he lay crumpled at the foot of the escalator. His face protruded over the moving stairs, and as each new step emerged his chin bounced on it painfully.

“Perhaps if I remain here suffering quietly,” K. thought, “the Superintendent of this facility will notice that I — an honored foreigner having received official invitation, no less — am being treated in this scandalous fashion, and will take pity on me. If he is worthy of his office he will be outraged, and with a snap of his fingers he will order that my briefcase be restored to me. Who knows? He may even award me certain damages.”

K.’s meditations were interrupted by a piercing pain in his backside. He turned to discover a lean Hispanic janitor trying to impale him on a pointed spike and lift him into a refuse bag. “Stop that nonsense at once, or I’ll report you to the Authorities! Do you hear?” K. did his best to sound threatening, but his voice had suddenly acquired an odd, squeaking quality. He quickly learned that he had also lost control of his body.

The janitor paused and looked at him oddly. “Hey, Tony, come over here!” he called to another man further down the hall. “You gotta see this! This June bug is at least four inches long, and its mouth is moving almost like it’s trying to say something!” K. sputtered and tried to deny the ridiculous charge that he had become an insect, but upon examination he saw that such was indeed the case. He had been flipped upon his back and could only wave his six pitifully thin legs in the air and make a nervous sort of buzz. His speech was no longer comprehensible.

“Pleazzze, help meezzzz! I muzzzt get to zzzee convenzzzion!” The janitors both laughed heartily at these pathetic sounds.

“Man, that’s spooky! I don’t know what it is, but I think we better kill it quick,” said the one who had first noticed K. “Livin’ la vida loca, and now your back is broke-a,” the one called Tony said as his partner flipped K. over and tried once more to run him through. K. found the peculiar singsong strangely comforting, and did not resist as the man put the sharp spike through the space between his folded wings, lifted him roughly, and stuffed him into the dark plastic bag.