“Out of Office,” by Scott Dominic Carpenter

Nov 12th, 2014 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Thanks for your e-mail. I’m out of the office right now, but I’ll reply as soon as I can. If you require immediate assistance, please contact Nicole Michaels at extension 4235. Your message is important to me.

Note that by “right now” I don’t mean now now, but rather then now, because I’m actually here while I compose this message, but I’ll be gone by the time you receive it, at some future now.

Oh, and for “I will reply,” please read “I may reply.”

Another detail: in the phrase “when I return,” the word “when” shall have the force and power of “if.”

By “important to me,” please understand “a nuisance.”

You still have questions? Fine. Great. The replies below may help.

If you are asking for a meeting, informing me of a meeting, or wondering why I missed a meeting, let me assure you that I have noted your comment with interest.

Should you happen to be HR trying to schedule my annual performance review, please get back to me when it is my turn to give you a performance review.

Perhaps you’re wondering whether I’ve completed A, B or C for the X, Y, or Z account. My answer: For Christ’s sake, stop micro-managing and let me do my job. Have a little faith.

In case you are Brad Johnson, my answer is: Stop e-mailing all the time. We’re in the same goddamn office. Get your ass out of your chair and talk to people. For crying out loud. Try speech for once.

You want to know if I’ll take on something new? Jesus Christ. The answer is No. Shit, I’m not even in the fucking office. I’m already overworked. Did you even read the message above? If it’s so goddamn urgent, call Nicole Michaels at 4235. Dump it on her desk. Why? Because I’m out, gone, away, and I may not be back. As far as you’re concerned, I’m history.

If you are my wife, you can probably predict my answers. I’ve been auto-replying to you for years. Please choose from the following: Uh-huh. Mmm. You don’t say. Some other options: No, I didn’t remember to pick it up on the way home. No, I didn’t call my mother. Oh, and I’ll not be back for dinner. Or breakfast. Don’t wait up. I’m sorry. For everything.

You’re not my wife?

In the event you are my mother: Yes, I apologize for some of the language I used above. No, I can’t come and “take you home.” Why? Because you already are “home,” Or at least what passes for “home” now.

In case this is the last chance I have to talk to my kids: You want answers. That’s normal. There are things I should have said. Let me take a crack at that here:

1. The standard password for most of my accounts is “password.” For banking and other high-security accounts, the password is “passw0rd.” Take it all.
2. For questions beginning with “Should I…,” the answer is: “Probably not.”
3. For accusations phrased as questions, my answer is: “I’m sorry. I tried.”
4. For the question you haven’t asked, my answer is: Run. Get away. Don’t follow my lead. Don’t do a desk job for twenty-five or thirty or thirty-one-and-a-half years, playing it safe, trying to get along with others, including Napoleonic wannabes, short guys with chips on their shoulder and sons in rehab, who take it out on you by giving you the shitwork, which you do year after year because you have a mortgage to cover, and soccer registrations and choir trips and every now and then some not-too-embarrassing summer vacation, followed by tuition and graduation gifts, two weddings, and then, as an afterthought, the IRAs to get caught up on. Don’t do that. DO YOU HEAR ME? Do not do it.

You’re not my children? For all other queries: I just don’t know. The questions terrify me. I’ve lied about it all. I’m sorry. I have no answers left. Please don’t ask any more. Leave me alone.

I hope that covers it. I really do. If not—if I have fallen short in any other way—please call Nicole.
Defenestration-Scott CarpenterScott Dominic Carpenter teaches literature and creative travel writing at Carleton College (MN). The author of Theory of Remainders: A Novel (named to Kirkus Reviews’ “Best Books of 2013”) and This Jealous Earth: Stories, he has published in a wide variety of journals. His website is sdcarpenter.com.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.