First Night on the Job


I'm pleased to say that I've gotten additional hours of work. As well as the twenty hours per week that I commit to Alternatives Journal, the remainder of my work time will be taken up on a short-term project for the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo. It makes for a busy March, but I'm happy.

And, in this vein, it seems appropriate to continue Perpetua's adventures in the underground working world. This segment of :The Night Girl: has been written straight from my mind to this post. As always, expect it to be rough.

For those new to this developing story, the earlier parts are here:

Light from the corridor filtered through the frosting on the windows and coloured the green carpet with a slant of glow below shadow. Perpetua felt around the door jamb for a light switch, and flicked it. She blinked at the sudden brightness.

She stared around the office at little squares of yellow, placed randomly over the reception desk, chairs, tables, the wall and the floor. Her eyes narrowed. Post-it notes. This was not an encouraging start to the day.

She closed the door and blinked to see a yellow square on the frosted glass at eye level, with flowery writing in blue ink. "Welcome to your first day of work, Miss Collins. I have left some instructions. --TPE".

Perpetua snatched off and crumpled it as she swept to her desk. She found a post-it note on her monitor with the words "User ID: pcollins; Password: underground". This, she decided to keep, and she plucked it from the screen and pasted it over the Post-It note pointing out the computer's (an iMac) on-off switch.

"I guess this counts as my training," she muttered.

She pushed the desk chair aside and ignored its high-pitched squeak, and turned to the corner of the room, with its small fridge and coffee maker. Pulling her brown bag lunch from her rucksack, she stopped short at a post-it note in the centre of the fridge door.

"Fridge. Food goes here."

"Oh, come on!" She snatched it off and stared at a Post-it note behind it: "Miss Collins, that last note was for our clients. Please leave it on --TPE." Perpetua stared at that note for several seconds, then snatched it off too.

The coffee maker had detailed instructions, and used instant, but Perpetua wasn't in the mood to read them, or quibble. Sipping coffee, she flumped onto her desk chair and ignored its protesting squeak.

Beside her computer was an in-tray (conveniently marked "in tray" by Post-it note), a phone (no messages save for what was taped on) and a plastic file holder. The in-tray contained a file of "Documents to be Faxed", a second file containing "Items to be Mailed (After Work)" and a third file containing "Items to be Proofread before Mailing". There was also a sheet of paper listing office supplies to be ordered. At the top of the list was Post-it notes.

She decided to get to work.

She got her computer desktop the way she liked it and set to began entering corrections on the proofread mail. Across the room, the laser printer hummed to life and licked out paper. Perpetua managed to seat herself in such a way that the chair didn't squeak every time she moved (a position which, fortunately, was chiropractically correct). Finally, picking up the "To be Faxed" file, she glanced around for the fax machine, found it, and jumped to her feet. The chair gave a loud squeak and trundled after her, stopping when she turned to stare at it.

The fax machine stopped her again. It was a new model, brand name, but battered beyond belief. The numbers were missing and, to key them in, she'd have to stick her fingers through the holes. It looked like someone had gnawed at the corners and broken pieces off. There was a Post-it note beside it.

"Of course," muttered Perpetua. She picked it up.

"My apologies for the condition of the fax machine; it works, the last receptionist had difficulty figuring out how. --TPE"

Had difficulty, and threw a tantrum, apparently. "I'm going to have you and the chair replaced," said Perpetua.

She snapped up at a high-pitched squeak, like a terrified mouse. She found herself staring at her desk chair, which was where she had left it, but was now facing away from her. Perpetua stood blinking, then dismissed it with a wave of her hand.

She managed to get the fax machine to work. Invoices, receipts and requisitions slid through and she gave them no notice. When she was done, she looked up at the clock and saw that it was ten p.m. She'd been at work for two hours and not a single person had bothered her. She could get used to this.

It was time for a break. She considered the instant coffee, and wondered if the cappucino stand was still open. She slipped out of the office to find out.

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