The hint of stale coffee and old sweat was permeating the office as a series of chimes from each of the techs’ machines acted like surround sound as their email notifications for “urgent” went off. After reading the email and seeing no one budging, Selben looked around. None of them would meet his gaze.
The current office configuration consisted of a circle of inner-connected desks with a jumbotron style set of televisions hung in the center that displayed incoming calls and tech support statistics. There were very few active tickets. Most of the techs were waiting around for incoming calls. Based on the lack of action from his peers, Selben read the email once more to make sure he wasn’t missing something.
> Free donuts in the main staff kitchen. Get them while they’re fresh!
Selben’s stomach let out a growl. Giving a final suspicious glare around the room, he scooped up his empty coffee mug and headed to the main kitchen.
The door was slightly ajar. He slowly pushed the door forward and entered, not seeing anything obviously amiss. Opening the bright pink box, he was greeted by a fresh and nearly complete dozen. He made a selection and refilled his coffee mug. Happily spinning around with a little dance, he turned for the door intending to return to his desk when he stopped dead in his tracks.
In the doorway stood an HR rep. Her eyes locked on him like a lion seeing an antelope. Selben froze, unknowingly mimicking that antelope. The kitchen only had one door. He briefly considered the window but decided the injuries might be too serious.
Selben put on his shiny smile, “Good morning.”
He tried slowly walking towards her, intending to slip by, but she stood firm blocking the exit.
“Did you enjoy the donuts we brought in?”
Selben considered throwing the donut at her to escape. Nothing good came from HR being friendly.
Without waiting for him to answer, she continued.
“Oh, I wanted to show you something. Come with me, please.”
She turned and extended her arm in a direction, clearly showing he had no option but to follow.
He followed her deep within HR territory. An all glass conference room was on a raised platform in the center and appeared to be waiting for gallows to be built. Selben instantly spotted the open boxes of “ill gotten goods” (not through the IT department): tablets, an off-brand projector, and some sort of conferencing equipment with a camera and small monitor. The HR lead flashed a razor tooth smile as she approached, clapping her hands in approval of Selben’s existence.
“Thank you for arriving so quickly. We have our monthly meeting tomorrow, so please get these setup for us.”
The HR lead and rep shared knowing smiles of having captured their prey and closed the glass door as they left the room. They sat on chairs outside, effectively sealing Selben inside the cleverly devised trap.
Selben knelt over one of the boxes and began to rummage through while discreetly slipping his phone from his pocket to send an urgent text to Snickers asking for help. No response. He pulled out a couple of the tablets to actually inspect them, and grimaced. They were the cheapest possible option you could get and would never do what HR had planned.
After 30 minutes of head shaking, hopelessness, and growing terrified he’d never be released from this glass prison, he spotted a familiar ponytail moving among the HR cubicles. Focus rounded the corner, with Snickers trailing behind her as she approached the door to Selben’s cage. She turned to face both the HR lead and rep, who looked concerned that their prize was being contested. The room was soundproofed preventing Selben from hearing, but things clearly were getting heated: Snickers was occasionally flinching while cowering behind Focus. Both Focus and the lead would pound their fists into their palms, and alternatingly took power stances when defending their argument. With a final blow and accusational pointing, Focus won. The HR rep ran back to her cubicle. The HR lead tried to stand defiantly but moved out of the way to let Selben pass when Focus opened the door. He closely followed Focus out of HR’s domain, with Snickers right on his heels.
Focus spoke without stopping.
“They did not have a ticket and did not put in a request for that equipment. I told them they can support it themselves unless they order through IT and follow proper procedure!”
Selben was about to thank her but she stopped and turned to face them.
“And BOTH of you need to grow a pair!” she said jokingly.
On that, she confidently returned to her office. Protecting her little antelopes was part of her job, after all.