I entered the offices of Three Harbors Publishing Company as I normally do, fifteen minutes ahead of my usually scheduled moment to begin my labors. All was normal for approximately one hour before Stephanie, the man from human resources who hired me, appeared at my cubicle and asked me to come with him. Stephanie chooses to dress as a woman and present himself as one, but in these efforts he is a rather glorious failure, as the wig he affects appears to be nothing more than the sickly wisps of a dying blond spider, and his frame could support a sequoia tree. When we entered Stephanie’s office, he informed me that I had missed work yesterday.
“I am aware of that,” I said, because I was. “I was the one who was absent.”
“Right. Three Harbors Publishing Company has a zero tolerance policy for unexcused absences.”
I informed Stephanie that that policy seemed unwise, because in some instances unexcused absences may have utterly valid explanations, such as mine, although I declined to provide that explanation. Stephanie, however, failed to be moved, and he explained that zero tolerance means that no explanation would be sufficient to justify an unexcused absence.
To me that is unjust. What if, for example, Stephanie’s wife gave birth to a baby who was taken hostage by baby smugglers who could only be thwarted by an unexcused absence? This suggestion only succeeded in angering him and he declined to speak any more to me, apart from insisting variously that I “sign here” and “initial here.”
After that he escorted me to my cubicle and gave me a small cardboard box and a few minutes to collect possessions. I had not brought any of my own possessions into the office at any time, so I gathered items such as books and staplers and sticky notes into the box. When Stephanie saw what I was doing, he informed me that I had to stop what I was doing, and he took the box from me and walked me out of the building.
Along the way we met Johnathan, who was my boss. He is male and dresses like one. “Nathan,” he said. “I am…” What he was, however, he never explained. He simply stood there awkwardly, as if he expected me to speak, and then he retreated into his office and closed the door.
We wastefully took the elevator downstairs, even though it is only one flight, and Stephanie walked me to the outer doors. He informed me that I must leave the premises, and then watched me as I did so. And I returned here, which is not the original plan that we discussed, as I am early, but I hope you will forgive the confusion.
This is another quickie passage from Exile Issues, at least for now. I like it—Human Resources departments are difficult to navigate successfully for humans, so for people from other dimensions, it would have to be even harder—but there are a fair number of presuppositions that as I’ve edited may no longer be valid.
Stephanie is based loosely on a person who worked at a company that I used to work at. I didn’t know him, but he was hard not to notice, dressed as he was in incredibly unconvincing drag. Which is perfectly fine, if that’s what you want to do, but at the same time, I can’t pretend to not notice.