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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!

I Wonder Whether There’s a ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ Checklist

I have an orientation meeting at work tomorrow. Another one.

My new job is cool and all, but splitting time in two offices is a big fat bunch of doo-doo. Ahem. Sorry, didn’t mean to get all vulgar and shit on you there. My bad.

Anyway, getting things going is becoming a bit of a pain in the ass. Two offices means two commutes (and reliably cheap parking at neither location), two desks, two sets of bosses, two email addresses, two security IDs, blabbety blah blabbety blah-ble-blah. And two daylong series of meetings to tell me not to share confidential information, give out my password, steal, cheat, lie, or covet my cubicle-neighbor’s wife. Or something like that — I’ve pretty much decided to pay attention to neither. You know, a sort of non-violent protest against the rampant bureaucracy. Very Ghandiesque, no?

In any event, it’s been a chore getting settled in. And to say that I’m ‘settled in’ after a week would be an exaggeration. No — no, a misconception. Nope, not that either — how about a ‘bald-faced hopelessly optimistic lie’? Yeah, that’s about right.

I like to believe — as per my M.O. — that none of this thumbs-up-asses business is my fault. And this time, I might even be right. (For once.) I think I’ve done all I can to get the ball rolling. I went through orientation at one office a week — a full week before I officially started. I attended not one, nor two, nor even three, but four meetings in the two weeks before my first day. I filled out all my forms, and made all my appointments, and took my health screening like a man.

(Well, okay, it didn’t involve a prostate exam, or even a ‘turn your head and cough’ kind of thing, so I guess I really didn’t take it particularly like a man, or a woman, or anything else. They took some blood and gave me a subcutaneous TB test. Any old mammal could have served the purpose. So I guess I ‘took it like a badger’, or ‘took it like an ocelot’, as much as I ‘took it like a man‘. It’s just a figure of speech, all right? Don’t be such a tightass.)

The point is, I think I did my part. Yet here I am, six days in, with no email address, half a desk at once site and a borrowed desk at the other, one ID card, no parking, and no dedicated network access in either place. And, most consternatingly — hey, don’t laugh when I make up words, bitch — another orientation session to go to tomorrow. Guh.

And if that’s not enough — and apparently, it isn’t — I’m not even going to be ‘official’ at one of the offices for another two weeks. See, there’s this other organization (an ‘Institute’, to be exact) that’s being formed on November 1st. It’s a collaborative effort between the two groups I’m working for now. And at this second office, they’re not hiring anyone under the ‘old’ regime; I can go through orientation (tomorrow) and be assigned an email address, but I won’t have an ID card, an official desk, or any of that important shit until the first of the month.

And really, who am I kidding by saying ‘the first’? Please. The new institute may come online on the first, but how long do you think it’ll take them to getting around to things like ‘Peon Registration’? I’m a worker bee, for chrissakes; my part of the totem pole is friggin’ underground. So I’ll likely be getting that ID card and desk assignment for Christmas, or even later. Maybe I’ll just work out of my damned car. That might be easier. And maybe I wouldn’t get so many parking tickets. This job is fucking expensive!

Okay, enough bitching. This is actually going to be a really cool job, and the paperwork shit will be over with soon. So, lest I leave you thinking that the job is all piss and no vinegar… or, um, something like that… I’ll tell you something fun about the office I’m going to tomorrow.

So, this is the place where I’m ‘sharing’ a desk. Actually, I think what I’m doing is more akin to ‘commandeering’ than sharing, but that’s just splitting hairs. The guy who’s normally at the desk is on vacation for three weeks. And I’m an orphan until November. We’re the perfect deskmates — I’m polite, considerate, quiet, and don’t rummage through his shit. And him… well, he’s in another country or something, and therefore physically unable to bug the shit out of me. Like I said, perfect.

Anyway, I’m mooching this guy’s desk temporarily. He’s got the usual array of books, and notes, and office shit, and assorted ‘knick-knacks’. (Though I’ve been unsuccessful so far in locating any ‘paddy-whacks’ in his office. I’ll let you know if I find any.) All in all, pretty standard stuff.

Then, though, there’s the official-looking piece of paper taped to the wall over the phone. It’s typed — obviously a standard form of some kind — and along the top, it reads, in big black letters, ‘ATF Bomb Threat Phone Checklist‘. It’s one of the funniest pieces of paper that I’ve ever read. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I’m not sure whether that’s my problem, as usual, or whether the people who’ve written the thing are at fault. In any case, I really don’t know how helpful this ‘Checklist’ would be, should the unthinkable ever happen. Perhaps you’ll agree.

So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll post the ten questions (and one final instruction) from the form, and for each, I’ll try to guess what sort of answer the caller on the other end of the line might give. Remember, this is the form that’s meant to be referenced if some psychotic douchemonkey rings up to say that he’s planning to atomize the building you’re currently standing in. Or ‘she’. Could be ‘she’. Never is, but could be. Got to give the ladies props, right? One of them could get out of bed one day and decide to dynamite the shit out of an office park. Could happen, I guess.

Anyway, on to the form. After you fill in your name, and ‘exactly‘ what the caller says, you’re instructed to ask the caller these ten questions. Here we go:

1. When is the bomb going to explode?

Bomb-Toting Freakjob (BTF) Possible Responses:

  • That depends. Is Joe in today?
  • Um, in about six seconds. You might want to finish whatever you were doing before I called. Fast.
  • That’s ‘When is the bomb going to explode, sir?’ I’m the one with the bomb, remember, dickhead?
  • Right after the next stupid question you ask me. Careful, skippy.

2. Where is the bomb?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • It’s in the last place you’ll look. Ever.
  • It’s in the law office on the 3rd floor. I didn’t want to hurt any actual people.
  • Up in ya! Gotcha! Ha ha!
  • Um, which one? You want them sorted by size, location, or explosive material used?

3. What does it look like?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • The bomb? It’s the shape of a big, invisible six-foot-tall rabbit. Goes by Harvey. G’luck!
  • Well… it’s bigger than a bread box. That’s all I can tell you.
  • I don’t know — I think looks are so superficial. Don’t you?
  • Actually, it looks just like a phone receiver. Which phone number is this again?

4. What kind of bomb is it?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • I’m not sure. I think it said ‘TinkerToys’ on the box. Could’ve been ‘Lego’, though.
  • The kind that goes ‘boom’? I’m not sure what you’re asking, exactly.
  • Well, it’s shy. It likes sad movies, and long walks in the park, and… how is this important again?
  • Oh, it’s your kind of bomb. Oh, yes, this bomb has your name written all over it. Literally.

5. What will cause it to explode?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • Um, I don’t know, to be honest. Try jumping up and down and see what happens.
  • Another damned fool question like that one. Don’t push me, pencil-neck.
  • Tacos and tequila, usually. Oh, wait, no. That’s me. Never mind.
  • Well, it’s designed to explode when I push this button right… oh. Oops!

6. Did you place the bomb?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • Why yes, I did bring the bomb into your organization. Is there a ‘finders fee’ for that?
  • Did I ‘place’ it? No. I did a pretty good job of hooking it up to the bottom of your chair, though.
  • No, smartass. I just know about it because I’m friggin’ psychic. Please hold for the Tooth Fairy, ya dildo.
  • Sure, I can place it. It’s a couple of feet tall, with blinky lights and a clock timer on top. Why do you ask?

7. Why?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • Why? My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
  • Oh, you know. ‘Disgruntled ex-employee’ thing. ‘Revenge against the world’. Yadda yadda yadda.
  • Uh, I said ‘no’ to the last question. What, are you reading questions from a script or something?
  • Because it was there? No, sorry, that’s different. What was the question again?

8. Where are you calling from?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • Dude, who are you, Columbo? I’m not that stupid.
  • I’m on the upstairs extension. Get out of the house!
  • Um, actually, I’m in Alaska. I figure this is the closest safe distance away from your building at this point.
  • Not tellin’. You can’t make me, you can’t make me! Nyah nyah!

9. What is your address?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • Well, let’s see. One Two Three Fake Street. Can you send Chief Wiggum over right away?
  • You want my home address, or work address? Or where I’m at now? Be specific, man!
  • Wait, wait, I know this one. ‘Gettysburg Address’? No? ‘State of the Union Address’? Damn!
  • You may address me as ‘Lord Highness’. But most people just call me ‘Psycho’.

10. What is your name?

BTF Possible Responses:

  • Uh, Inigo Montoya. Duh. Didn’t I just say that?
  • Ooh, yeah, good movie. ‘And what is your quest?’ Cool flick, dude.
  • What? You don’t know my name?! Aw hell, dad. You never could recognize a bid for attention. Damn.
  • Just call me ‘Dubya’. Say, you don’t sound Middle Eastern. Or even French. Did the operator fuck up again?

So, after the world of information that you glean from this rather brilliant line of questioning, you’re asked to make a judgement of your own. You know, if you haven’t been blown into little tiny pieces in the three hours or so it took you to go through the questionnaire section of the form. This last bit of detective work involves a determination of the caller’s state of mind, based on characteristics you’ve picked up from the caller’s voice.

Your choices are:

Calm Stutter Giggling Stressed
Disguised Slow Deep Accent
Nasal Sincere Crying Loud
Angry Lisp Squeaky Slurred
Broken Rapid Excited Normal

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see a list like this, I can only think of those little ‘mood magnet’ thingies with a bunch of corresponding cartoon faces that all look like Calvin (of ‘& Hobbes’ fame). Some people (me included) put them on their fridge (or outside their office), and use a little indicator to show people what kind of mood they’re in.

(Okay, I don’t do that. The one on my fridge is permanently stuck on ‘Lovestruck’. Yeah, I’m a dopey married sap. Suck me, all right?

Anyway, most people lie on the damned things, anyway. I always use to check the things before talking to people at the office, and they were always wrong. I’d go in expecting ‘Hopeful’ and get ‘Overwhelmed’. I’d think I was walking into ‘Cautious’, only to end up with ‘Enraged’. I don’t even think ‘Pissy’ or ‘Asshatted’ were choices… yet that’s what I ran into more often than not. Where are the frigging ‘truth in advertising’ laws when you really need them, eh?)

Anyway, I suppose we’re meant to ignore the fact that some of the words on the list are adjectives, and some are nouns. I’m sure such distinctions are irrelevant when there’s two tons of TNT packed under your water cooler. And try not to think about what some of the more ridiculous combinations might sound like. Like ‘rapid, calm, and lisping’. Or ‘deep, squeaky, and slurred’. Just pray that you’re never called by a maniacal Oompah-Loompah, or Eric Cartman. Or my mother-in-law.

(But don’t tell her I said that.)

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. It’s taken a while to get all of this out. So I think I’m gonna go into the kitchen, change my mood on the fridge to ‘Exhausted’ and hit the sack. Same time tomorrow, folks?

Permalink  |  1 Comment



One Response to “I Wonder Whether There’s a ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ Checklist”

  1. belle says:

    funniest thing. ever. (I don’t get out much)

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