Now. you do not recline in the Purchasing and Procurement Department. You stay erect appearing alert and productive - even when you're dozing off.
This good looking young female didn't. She draped herself - languidly - and gazed steadily at me with large laser blue eyes.
I wouldn't have minded but she'd chosen the file disposal icon on the new TFT flat screen of my personal computer to recline upon. She seemed unconcerned that this was my office, my computer, my file bin and she was occupying it all completely uninvited. However, it was just 11 o'clock in the morning and the worst of the day's email horrors had been identified (and some even dealt with) and I was ready for a distraction.
"Hi!", she said. The words appeared in a bubble above her head with a cursor that blinked as if the remark was unfinished. After a suitable pause, I reluctantly acknowledged her through the keyboard.
"Who - or what - exactly are you?"
"Just Livvy," she replied, smiling brightly. Her long fingers playing with the silky folds of her ankle length dress. "It's short for 'Living Icon'!"
"What are you doing in my computer?"
"Anything you want really - look upon me as your little helper!"
She didn't look the part. My little helper was in the office next door. Originally brought in to supplement my small knowledge of computing, she was not little at all. Her daily routine seemed mainly to involve talking to her boyfriend on the telephone - until things got really busy - then she would go sick. This Livvy person didn't look like that sort of helper at all.
"Helping with what?"
"All the things that bug you really! For example, what about those time-consuming follow up emails that everybody sends you? Give me the details and just forget them. I'll keep them busy until you've got the problem sorted.
I looked at her disbelievingly. My list of excuses and reasons for not having what people wanted when they wanted them was extremely long and well crafted. It was not something that could be delegated except to a properly trained and qualified expert in Purchasing and Procurement - with years of experience of dealing with insurmountable delay, of course.
"Or if you want to find something? she purred. "Tell me - I loooove finding stuff." The words seemed to slip deliciously past lips that were uncomfortably large and alluring. However, I was rapidly concluding that she'd been programmed in the likeness of someone who was not only overendowed but also decidedly too optimistic for her own good. Probably the result of some machiavellian new management training scheme.
However, I did have one problem that was as yet unresolved. I had ordered some new stress reduction software. It had all the advantages of a week away 'bonding' with colleagues without the cost. The big selling point was that employees could fit the stress relief course into a spare lunch break. My annual bonus merit review was coming up. I needed to be able to show the savings. But, following delivery, it seemed to have sunk into a large dark hole without trace and I needed it - fast!
"Easy," she said, tossing her silky-blonde hair, nonchalently. "Frosty Nosedrop in Accounts who should only have received the Delivery Note also received the software. You want me to email him?"
The email message system sprang open before me, unpleasantly blinking in over urgent readiness.
"No!" I replied edgily, "I'll get it myself - It'll be a pleasure to put him in his place - if you're right!"
She was right. Nosedrop, a slightly built, nervous and mildly unassertive man claimed to me that he had been waiting months for Purchasing and Procurement to arrange him a stress relief course. And when the software had landed on his desk, he'd thought it was for him. Unfortunately, he had little knowledge, training or practical experience using computers and despite working long extra hours into the night he'd completely failed to make it work. The effort had left him shattered and even more disillusioned than before. Naturally, I made sure that my complaint considerably added to his distress and, by the time I left, he was visibly shaking.
Now I've never been one to hold a grudge and in consequence of his discomfort, when I got back to Purchasing and Procurement, I brought his case right to the top of my pile. The course I chose was brilliant. It was just right for him and met all his needs with an immediate start date. What a stroke! The course was to take place in a beautifully restful, if mountainous, terrain. By day, he and his fellow students (mostly from the military admittedly) would be living off the land survival training amongst rock strewn crags. At night, huddled in a small shared log cabin, they would sharpen their programming skills with an advanced course in UNIX. Invigorating, bonding, motivating and mentally toughening. He'd live again!
And then, when he got back, I reflected happily (if he got back), he'd be all primed up so that he'd be able to get stuck into the software stress package again. Sometimes days just go so well that life feels great!
So it was with an inner feeling of warmth and bonhomie that I dropped the order into the Director of Purchasing and Procurement and strolled, at an appropriately leisurely speed, off to lunch.
Later, when I returned to my office - my little blonde helper was gone. So was my desk and computer. The office was empty apart from a note pinned to the notice board from the Director of Purchasing and Procurement. It congratulated me for locating the lost software and:
"In view of your interest in computing and stress relief, I've put you on the same course as Nosedrop! See you next month - enjoy! Signed The Director."
I tried to get in to see him but his computerised diary noted in large letters that he was unavailable for the next few days ... and the source of the message ... LIVVY!The End
Copyright of this short story Rob Hopcott 1999 - 2006, All rights reserved. All characters are fictitious and no reference is intended to any person living or otherwise.