My Name Is Not William, Part 4 by David Kendall, Jr.

In this episode, William is surprised at work. American cheese is mentioned. (CL)

American cheese...Mmm. Granted it's only truly American if it has plastic involved with its manufacture or storage, but you can't beat American cheese. I peel the wrapper off of piece number two as I jump off the bus. If I had a handful of corn flakes, it would be a Grand Slam breakfast. But, I am left to finish my square-shaped goodness as I stomp down the street to work.

Most of the street is lined with former factories, now trendy loft apartments, offices, and live/work suites. With ivy strategically placed to give the appearance of dignified grace, these building are admittedly well maintained. I would love to live in one, except I don't want to live any closer to work than I need to. I need the artificial barrier of distance. That and I couldn't afford one. Ever. Plus, there is WAY too much black for my taste. All these black pant clad people with their black-rimmed glasses talking in their shiny faux gray metal cell phones keeping rhythm in their black chunky-heeled shoes. Goo.

I approach the building where I work which is stunningly old-fashioned. Someone bought a rundown factory, tore it down, and built an ugly, ugly mirrored skyscraper in its place. I throw away my cheese seals, smooth out my black jacket, adjust my black tie, and enter the building.

The fortieth floor holds the belly of the beast. I pull out my ID card to swipe my way in the doors (typically locked before the official 9am open) and give my daily smile to Vicki. I feel bad about acknowledging Vicki since if I ever saw her legs or her head without a headset, I wouldn't recognize her. Still, I make sure I smile at her every time I pass her at the massive desk that blubbers across the lobby.

Keeping your head down through the cubicle maze on the way to the mailroom is absolutely key. Unnecessary eye contact will attract personal conversation or gopher duty. The last time I looked up through the gray maze, I got the verbal stranglehold from some douche in accounting. Imagine an overly buff chucklehead with blond dyed bangs flapping his garbage pail jaw about anthrax to the mailroom lackey. Sorry Ricky Martin, our abs must not be in alignment since humor involving my job handling mail and anthrax doesn't seem to make my head flap in amusement. It took three weeks of chanting, "I will own you someday," to make this encounter amusing.

The mailroom. I am an hour early. Yet, my four colleagues are here ahead of me. Work technically doesn't start until 9am. Yet, if any of our bosses saw I arrived last, it would at least stoke the flames for the normal trainee's removal. I have the upper hand. None of the agents arrive until 10am, and no one of any power knows my name.

Here's the rules of agent trainee: First, work the mailroom. Four months? Definitely. Six months. Good chance. Eight months. Has happened. I'm working on nine months. Why? No one knows my name. Typically at eight months, you are booted from the place. No one has deemed you worthy of agent assistant. I haven't been booted. Why? Well, we know the first reason, but whenever there is some stupid and mind-numbingly easy task to be done, I always seem to get it. Since these tasks are easy, I do them well, and I'm remembered by the senior agents as "That Kid Who Got the Fax Machine to Do That Thing."

Second rule of the agent trainee is the old race car driving maxim: Aim for the crash because it'll be gone by the time you get there. When you see someone getting smashed in by the higher-ups, you dive in to make sure they remember you weren't the one who caused it. This hasn't effected me too much since nobody knows my name.

Third rule of the agent trainee is you always look fashionable in black.

I take my jacket off and prime a smile for my coworkers. They all give their jock frat "hey" to me.

Mailroom role call:
- Jim, 22, four months in, went to Columbia, majored in beer, minored in Dad pulling him through, drives a Peugeot without irony, works on his abs.
- Bill, 23, seven months in, likes "tail," likes to talk about all facets of "tail," has never mentioned a woman's name ever, works on his abs.
- Fred, 22, five months in, got caught by a former female agent trainee masturbating in his car in the office garage, she got fired, works on his abs.
- Wally, 21, one month in, naive, too eager to please, with a name like Wally it doesn't matter how much he works on his abs, he is just plain fucked.
- Me, I eat processed cheese.

Being the last person in the mailroom, I get all the mail no one wants to sort. This means diving deep to the regions no one wants to go. This means no contact with the agents. Even Wally is in on the scheme which saddens me somewhat. He should be nicer since I'm technically the senior trainee. The next one up the ladder. But, since no one knows my name it'll probably be Bill. We all sort in silence. Rather, I sort in silence while Jim, Bill, and Fred babble in high-five male movie one liners. Wally coos in awe.

As a finger makes its way in the mailroom, it's followed by a voice, "I need that gawky kid," given in a swagger more pleather than vinyl. You want to believe it's genuine.

Oh, Mr. Krebbs, you're an idiot. He clicks his fingers trying to form a snap while sputtering for a phrase, "Umm...ahh..." The finger points its way in my affirmed direction, "You. You fixed my laptop, right?" I nod. "Come with me." It has to do with the mail alert system, I'm sure of it.

Krebbs walks two paces purposefully in front of me. His unnaturally brown hair bobs with gravity. His blazing blue pinstripe trail leads straight to his office while his oversize black frames scan the kingdom. As we pass the threshold, there are two abnormally dark suits already seated. They are definitely not from here. Krebbs pauses at the door and waits to slam the door once I enter. The suits stand up. These suits have patches on them. Security company logo patches. Krebbs stops and stares at me like he's never seen me before. With a thick sigh ending a brief pause, Krebbs bellows from his permanently wrinkled brow, "Kid, I'm sorry."

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