(Here’s the beginning of a short story I started this morning. I’m a bit rusty, haven’t written fiction since 2008, but thought I’d have a little fun this mornimg.)
When Eric told his family that he had leased his own private office, this place probably wasn’t what they had in mind. The paper thin carpeting…a few bucks removed from being that cheap indoor/outdoor stuff. The fake wood paneling on the walls…so fake that it would be an insult to call it faux. The miniblinds on the window…were they the original window coverings when the place was build back in the 70s? And the dusty smell. Or was it musty? Or was it rusty?
The place was perfect. For starters, he could walk to work in less than 10 minutes. Turn left, walk one block, turn right, walk three blocks, and he’s there. So simple. Sometimes, Eric would even take his dog with him (for a combo walk-slash-take-your-dog-to-work-day). But the dog fucking hated that office. She’d have panic attacks when she was inside, and stood by the door the entire time whining, waiting to exit.
But it was only $400 a month — the cheapest gig in town. After all, we’re talking mid 2000s in the San Francisco Bay Area. You were lucky to rent a parking spot for that sort of price. And it was very spacious. Two rooms. Roughly 800 square feet. Larger than most fancy hotel rooms. But not quite as fancy. No, not quite.
Eric had tried working from home, ever since his business partner abandoned him to go to graduate school and left him alone in an oversized 3000 square foot office, stuck paying thousands of dollars in rent. He quickly terminated that lease, figuring he’d save all that money by working from home. He had a nice house in Fremont, an upper-middle class suburb in the East Bay. He could sit on his handmade bar stool, and set his laptop up on his granite kitchen island, and work while enjoying a nice view of the trees and the birds and the “John Kerry for President” sign that the neighbor across the street still hadn’t taken out of his window. (The election was last year, buddy. And I have bad news for you. Your guy lost. Take the freaking sign down already!)
Eric’s wife, Sarah, who spent her afternoons waxing vaginas at the salon, was under the impression that “working from home” meant, “Baby, can you pick up the dry cleaning today? Baby the plumber is supposed to be there between 12 and 3. Hey baby, my sister’s plane lands at 2:48 in Oakland, I told her you could pick her up.”
Aside from moonlighting as his wife’s personal assistant, he also had other tempations. Reruns of the TV show, Cheaters, on the CW, for starters. And that damned refrigerator was another weakness. Why work when you could go to that fridge and make yourself lunch. Or a snack. Or some dessert? God he had to get out of this house.
The office was so inexpensive because it was actually part of a larger medical transcription office — an extra couple of rooms that they never used, so they figured, heck, let’s rent this out and make an extra $400 a month. A win-win. But they didn’t want to rent it to a large company, they didn’t want telemarketers in there, they didn’t want more than one person occupying the office. Perfect for, perhaps, an accountant, an author, or, in Eric’s case, an internet marketing guru. Click Here. Now Click There. Not there, here! Buy Now. You’re a valued customer. Learn More. Only $17.98, offer expires in 20 seconds. 19. 18. 17….
He decorated the entire office for under $200, mostly thanks to the thrift store. A desk, an office chair, a file cabinet, a side table, an entertainment center. He bought a sofabed off Craigslist for $50 (with free delivery), and purchased some egyptian cotton sheets from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (in case he ever got a female visitor). Then, he added a 50 inch plasma TV and a DVD player from an online auction site. A perfect bachelor pad.
There was one fairly sizable downside. He had no access to a bathroom. To pee, he had to knock on the locked door, the one leading to the medical transcription portion of the office. The receptionist would open the door for him and allow him to use their restroom. Due to laws about confidentiality of medical records, they were required to keep that door locked, to prevent him from potentially accessing medical records.
(Eric absolutely HATED buying condoms, worried about what others would think. The shame. The shame. He hated it so much, in fact, that he started a dot com called EmbarassingProducts.Net. The site sold everything from vibrators to tampons to vagisil to preparation h to pregnancy tests to adult diapers, and yes, condoms. He did OK with the business, until ShopInPrivate.Com put him out of business.)
But the point is, Eric is easily embarassed, so having to knock every time he had to pee, and having to wait for someone to open a door to allow him to use their restroom was degrading. When he only had to pee, no biggie. But when he had to pump a grumpy, it was the pinnacle of humiliation.
Step 1: Knock
Step 2: Wait for receptionist to open door
Step 3: Sit on toilet and listen to loud pooping sounds and realize entire office is probably listening, knowing it’s you, because they just had to open the door for you.
Step 4: Flush
Step 5: Wash hands (All employees must lava su manos).
Step 6: Ask receptionist to let you back into your office
Making matters more awkward, the receptionist, was an attractive brunette in her mid 20s. Physically, she was exactly Eric’s type. Rebecca was her name and she was completely deaf. So deaf, in fact, that she didn’t even wear hearing aids.
Yes, it’s ok if you’re wondering what we all are wondering: how does she hear the knocking on the door? Perhaps she feels the vibration? Perhaps she sees the door vibrating? Or maybe she has E.S.P.
Categories: Stephen Newman