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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Hawaii, Here I Come

I am Puerto Rico.

This is not to say that I’m Puerto Rican, of course. One look at my pale gringo mug up there would tell you that. Nor do I mean that I embody the spirit of Puerto Rico, by any stretch.

(I’m led to believe that Puerto Ricans are traditionally a fiery people, full of verve and elan and passion.

That’s not me. I tried ‘passion’ once. It was meh.)

So what the hell am I talking about? I’ll explain.

I work for a small company. I’ve been there a little over a year now, and we’re a little larger than when I joined — pushing seventy-five, give or take an executive vice-something-or-other. On a long wall leading to the break room, there are pictures of each of us in 5×7 format or thereabouts, in rows of twenty.

(As an aside, this wall is tremendously useful for someone like me who has trouble remembering which way I put my underpants on this morning, much less the names of several dozen people who try to have business meetings while I nap in the conference room. It’s saved me on several occasions from addressing someone I should clearly know as “buddy”, “ma’am” or “STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER!!”

Which can be slightly embarrassing. For all of us.)

These wall pictures are arranged by seniority, and when I joined I was at the end, naturally, somewhere in the high-sixties of current employees. As new people have been hired, my pic has nestled further into the pack. And as people above me have left — to explore new cities, new jobs or new psychiatric treatment facilities, perhaps — my face has also inched its way up the wall toward the top. A while back, I made it into the third row of twenties. A couple of end-of-year transitions scootched me further. And with the most recent departure, I’ve neared truly heady territory — almost in the Top 50. In fact, as of this moment, I’m sitting at number fifty-one.

In other words, I am Puerto Rico.

“I’m probably Guam. That sounds about right.”

Maybe it’s not an exact analogy. Puerto Rico isn’t officially a state, of course. So maybe I’m the U.S. Virgin Islands, or I’m Washington, D.C. Maybe I’m Guam.

Yeah. I’m probably Guam. That sounds about right.

The point is, what I’m not is Hawaii. Or Alaska. Or even Missipennsyltucky. I’m outside, looking in. Ellis Island is mooning me. I’m ohsoclose, but I’m not in the Top 50.

But I WANT to be.

The picture wall, it mocks me. Every time I walk to the kitchen for a soda or a six-pack or for a nice refreshing mini-steam with the cappuccino machine, I’m reminded of my second-class stature. My face just rubs my face right in my face. It’s maddening.

So I decided to do something about it. Oh sure, I could wait for one more person to retire or move or have an industrial machinery accident — but who has that kind of time? I’m shooting for the Top 50 today — or, say, by the end of next week. A guy’s got to pace himself, right? No matter how ambitious.

I figured the best bet was to get someone fired. It may seem callous, but let’s be fair — if someone didn’t want me sabotaging their career, then they should have had the good sense to not be hired before me and then hang around working while I’m approaching an arbitrary milestone that no other human would care about or even notice.

I mean, seriously. These people are practically begging for it.

My grand scheme to get some senior employee shitcanned began on Friday. I perused the picture wall and picked a likely candidate by name. I figured a smear campaign was the way to go — I’d start a nasty rumor or three, get a negative buzz going, and soon enough he’d be clearing out his desk and stealing Post-Its and staplers on his way out the door. Sucks to be him, but them’s the breaks. War is hell, kid.

I set up in the break room — after a nice steam, naturally — and waited for someone to gossip to. Soon enough, some dude wandered in, looking for caffeine. I sauntered over nonchalantly and pounced.

Because pouncing nonchalantly is totally a thing I do. Like a disaffected ninja. Boom.

Me: Hey, uh… “buddy”. Gettin’ coffee, eh?

Dude: Yup.

Me: So. You hear about that Carl guy?

Dude: Eh?

Me: That guy Carl that works here. Big scandal brewing.

Dude: Oh? What sort of scandal, exactly?

Me: Well, you didn’t hear it from me, but word is he’s embezzling.

Dude: What?

Me: Yeah. Stealing right from the coffers. Awful, right? And he’s insider trading, too. Probably.

Dude: You… do know that Carl’s the CEO, right?

Me: Uh, well, sure. Sure he is; that makes it even worse! Yeah. And you know what else?

Dude: What?

Me: He steams himself, right there, with that very cappuccino machine. I mean, seriously. The nerve of that guy, right? Screw Carl!

Dude: Hey, look here, kid-

Me: What? You’re on the fat cat’s side? What’re ya, some kind of Carlpologist?

Dude: No. I’m Carl.

Me: Oh. Carl’s… you. Right. Man, I’m really bad with names. Did I say Carl? I meant Yolanda. All that stuff was totally Yolanda.

Dude: Yeah?

Me: Yeah. Spread the word. Screw Yolanda! Yeah!

Dude: I’m calling security. You stay right here.

Of course, I didn’t stay right there. I ran out pretty quickly, actually. It was ten after two, after all, so the weekend had already started. But I’m confident that Carl — good old Carl — was able to get the security guard on his own, so he could escort Yolanda out the door for her various transgressions. And when I hit the office tomorrow, it’ll be all over. The drama done and the deed complete.

And I’ll be in the Top 50. Finally. It’s the very last state, but it’s still a state.

Somebody say ‘aloha’ to Yolanda for me.

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