When I forgot my access card this morning, I was forced to go Metal Gear Solid freestyle at the office
I guess it started three weeks ago. That was when the company started automatically locking the doors during business hours, unaware they had sealed the fate of an employee. You could get in if you had your company keycard with you. But the thing is – for chronic smokers like myself – I mean, it was tough to remember to bring your card outside. It was embarrassing to be stuck outside your own building, sometimes in the snow. You’d have to knock on the glass.
The worst was when Hot Janet opened the door for you. Uh, yeah, that’s her nickname: Hot Janet. You know, the girl from Accounting with the long hair and the tight sweaters? Hot Janet wasn’t too happy about being forced away from her spreadsheets to open the doors for losers like Crenshaw or me. She’d stomp downstairs and stride angrily to the doors. Before opening them, she’d scowl through the glass. Then she’d curl her lip up at the sight of your cigarette butt. Finally she’d let you in, but not until threatening to tell Human Resources on you again. They actually sent out a staff email about it. “Don’t forget your keycards blah blah disruption to the other employees blah blah deduction from pay blah blah.”
So Crenshaw and I had a system down, you know? One of us was always getting locked out. So we’d call each other on our cell phones in order to get back in. “*click* Dude – stuck outside again! *click*” Worked like a charm until Hot Janet ratted us both out and reported us as slackers. What was her deal, anyways? So, with Janet watching the doors like a hawk and Human Resources up our butt, Crenshaw and I came up with a plan.
See, we bet an Xbox on who would get stuck outside first. The loser would have to buy the winner an Xbox. Hey, we both wanted one, but neither wanted to shell out the three hundred bucks. Suddenly, we had every reason in the world to remember that keycard! Worked like a charm. For the first week, at least. Sometimes we’d even run into each other out there, flash our keycards to one another, smiling. Pretty good incentive, you know?
I tell you this only because you have to understand my motivations this morning. This morning, when I stepped outside, pulled out my pack of cigarettes, and I heard that awful click as the door closed behind me. I froze mid-motion, my lighter flame flickering in the wind. Yes. Yes, I’d forgotten my keycard.
With my first puff, both the adrenaline and the nicotine kicked in. I squinted my eyes, peering back and forth in the early spring breeze. It’s times like this that a man asks himself: “What would Solid Snake do?” The answer, of course, was to get back into my office building, unseen by either Hot Janet or Crenshaw. I steadied my nerves as the butt burned down, casually glancing at all the windows. Oh yes. It was time to go Metal Gear Solid Freestyle.
I casually paced toward the ash can, tossed the butt, then dove into the shrubbery before the smoking remnants even hit the bucket. Nestled in the underbrush I fastened my business tie around my forehead to catch the beads of sweat. There was no turning back.
I shimmied up a sapling near the Southwest corner of the building. The first floor windows were sealed and alarmed, but I knew that the inventory management guys keep the second floor storage room window open a crack ‘cuz it gets so hot in there. Swaying in the breeze I tilted the window open just enough to allow me to slip through, then slithered inside. I hit the floor with a minimal thud. The storage room was dim and filled with cardboard boxes. I was in! But not yet safe.
I had to get down to this IS department on the first floor without arousing suspicion, and that required avoiding the nosy marketing department entirely. Two choices: I could try squirming through the floor vents, but the main duct would outlet right next to Hot Janet’s feet, and I didn’t want to risk it. No, I opted for plan B. I crept to the door, peeked out, did a cartwheel across the hallway, then climbed up a filing cabinet in the reference library so that I could slip unseen into the ceiling crawlspace above. Silently I sealed the tile shut underneath me. So far so good. Nobody showed up with giant exclamation points over their heads.
The crawlspace was tight and dusty, crisscrossed with network cables. I shimmied my way along, swift and silent. But my plan started falling apart. For one thing, the way ahead was inexplicably barred by a complex network of hamster tubing. Then I discovered a steel I-beam that barred my passage into the back stairwell. Things were looking real bad, and I considered turning back, when suddenly I felt the tiles underneath me give way. Unable to grab hold of anything to save me, I plummeted from the ceiling and landed painfully on the floor below.
Two feet in front of Hot Janet’s desk.
She had been preoccupied with something under her chair. Then she looked up, in abject terror. Her eyes flicked like white marbles. I was about to try to excuse myself, but I guess the shock of seeing me fall from the sky was too much. She grabbed her chest. Her eyes rolled back into her head. Then her face hit the desk like a sack of potatoes. Quaking, I reached out and gently probed her neck for a pulse. Nothing. I’d frightened Hot Janet to death.
My own terror was drowned out in the instinct of self-preservation. What would Solid Snake do? Well, for one thing, he’d hide her body in a locker. That didn’t seem to be an option. But, a quick glance around told me that nobody had seen what had happened. I decided that the best thing to do was prop up her body and then slip away unseen, Metal Gear Solid Freestyle. By the time anyone realized what had happened, with this dead girl and a hole in the roof, I’d be back at my desk pretending I was surfing dirty websites all along. Time was of the essence!
But as I moved in to arrange the body, something froze me in my tracks. He was hunched in the open grate right at Janet’s feet, reaching up to arrange the body just as I was. It was Crenshaw. He was covered with leaves and had his tie wrapped around his head.
His eyes met mine, and no words were necessary. We didn’t make a sound – everything was said with our eyes and our eyes alone. We just propped up the body and slipped quietly off in our separate ways, me through the fire staircase, and him under a cardboard box.
At lunch I figured I’d buy him an Xbox, you know, just to make sure our whole deal was absolutely clear. I slipped it onto his chair when he wasn’t nearby. But when I got back to my cubicle, I saw that another Xbox had appeared just as mysteriously on my desk, as well. I don’t really care to comment on that. But suffice it to say, neither of us are likely to forget our access cards again anytime soon.
I’m thinking of quitting smoking. Dirty habit. You know, it’s the second-hand smoke that kills.
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