Employee Review, Part Three

(Continued from Part Two)

It was Danny. Jumping into his small blue convertible, he looked like he was in a bigger hurry than me to get his weekend started. I heard the engine on his sports car rev and he barreled out of the company parking lot.

I paused for a minute as a smile began to grow across my face. That’s it, I thought. That’s the solution. Danny was gone for the weekend. It was simple. All I needed to do was go back into Danny’s cubicle, find my review and figure out what I promised to do this weekend. I could be in and out before anyone even knew what I was doing. Without thinking it through, I found myself walking and then running back across the parking lot and in through doors. I was determined to solve this problem.

I took the elevator up to the second floor and as I walked across the bay of cubicles I was able to locate Danny’s cubicle instantly. It stood up four inches above all the other cubicles in his pod like it didn't belong. There were still a few employees milling around. Some were chatting about the weekend and others were grabbing their belongings and starting to head out.

Trying not to draw any attention to my actions, I inched myself closer to Danny’s cubicle. With a nervous smile and nods to my weekend bound coworkers, I quickly darted inside Danny's space. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I was at this point for his higher walls. No on was going to peek inside and no one would notice what I was doing. I crouched down and quickly tried to open the file cabinet. 

I guess I should have expected there to be a lock on the small built-in file cabinet, but pausing for a moment I real that I didn’t really put much thought into this plan. Luckily, this looked like a lock that could be picked or maybe even forced open. Thinking quickly, I grabbed the paperclip vine of Smurfs and picked one of the clips off the bottom. I wedged the paperclip into the lock and pretended to know what I was doing. I heard a click. No, I didn’t open the lock and this was proof that I had no idea what I was doing. The click I heard was the sound of the paperclip breaking off inside the keyhole.

I now had a new problem to solve. How do I get the tip of metal out of the keyhole. Thinking quickly or again maybe not at all, I reached for one of the Hobbit figurines huddled around the crystal orb. It was Frodo and it seemed like his sword would work perfectly for this task.

It didn’t work. Not even close. Maybe if I tried something that would stick to the metal piece. Aha! The PlayDoh. I plucked the crystal orb out of the PlayDoh and shoved the orange putty into the lock. Maybe if I pushed it in just far enough to the keyhole, it would grab the metal piece and pull it out. I felt like I was going to be caught at any moment, so I worked quickly to push the dough into the hole. I pulled it out and voila! Embedded in the orange blob was a small chunk of metal. It worked!

It was at that moment that my original plan hit a major bump in the road. I heard a familiar voice from outside the cubicle. That’s right. Danny’s voice. He had come back. I froze and immediately looked for a place to hide. It was hopeless, but I began wedging my large frame under his desk, but even this was futile. My mind raced for an excuse, but it was no use. I was going to be caught in his cubicle stealing company information. My career flashed before my eyes. I sat there frozen.

But, then I realized it wasn’t his voice I was hearing at all. It was just a recording of his voice. Actually, it was a voice message being played from a phone and it sounded like it was coming from under the desk, but it wasn't. It was coming from the cubicle next to Danny’s. I would never have been able to hear it, but thanks to the gap from the jacked-up cubicle walls, I could hear it loud and clear. It was a voice message being left for my co-worker, Linda, who sat next in the cubicle next to Danny.

At first, hearing Danny's voice reminded me that I was not supposed to be trying to break into his private files in his personal cubicle. But, the more I listened to his voice playing on that message, it reminded me that I was also not supposed to hear what he was saying to Linda in this very private voice message. This was the type of message that was meant only for the person you intended to send it to. The type of message you wouldn’t want anyone else to hear or even know about. The type of message with words that make most people blush.

Apparently, Danny had quite a weekend planned for Linda. It involved a variety of activities with only a few of them requiring clothing. Those were his words, not mine.  What began as fear of discovery, turned into an audible form of voyeurism. As I was crouched underneath Danny’s desk I could barely contain myself from giggling as I listened to the exploits being described in the voice message. I finally gave up trying to break into the cabinet. I was all ears listening Danny’s illicit message.

The company had a very strict policy about relationships between supervisors and employees. It’s the type of thing you read about in the employee manual prior to your employee review. Apparently, Danny and Linda had skipped that part of the employee manual. And that’s when the new solution for my initial problem miraculously appeared. I didn’t have to worry about anything in my employee review and it didn’t matter what I did this weekend. On Monday morning, when I showed up empty handed, Danny could ask why I did not work on my goals. That’s when the extortion would begin.

It could be as easy as asking Danny about the plans for the Jacuzzi or what he thinks about breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed. There were specific words and phrases that were now etched into my memory. I’m sure the mere mention of any of these phrases will be enough to prove my point. The path to freedom was paved for me and Danny and Linda were going to be the ones handing me the bricks.

With my problem solved, I did my best to prop the crystal orb back onto the PlayDoh. I made sure the Smurfs were climbing again. I thanked Frodo and returned his sword and then tidied any mess I had made.

I stood up to leave and glanced at the clock. Once again, I pushed it back against the wall. It held for a moment and then slipped down the nail one more time. I told myself that this would have to wait for my next covert cubicle break-in. 

Trying not to draw any attention to myself, I walked quietly out of Danny's cubicle.  As I did, I poked my head around the corner and found Linda texting a message into her phone. I could only imagine what she was writing, but I found pleasure startling her with my unexpected hello. She dropped the phone like she was a kid with her hand caught in the cookie jar. I simply smiled and said, “Have a good weekend Linda. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” She smiled back, “You too. Have a nice weekend."

I stood tall as I walked out past the rows of empty cubicles. With my extra energy and a headful of new information, I chose to use the stairs. As I sat down in my car and headed home, not even the slow afternoon traffic could discourage me. I was a man with no plans and had just survived being sideswiped by adventure.

The End