The cubicles at BluffCo were a labyrinth. They seemed to go on without end. Over the clicking of keyboards and humming of fluorescent lights, an audible sigh came from one otherwise indistinguishable desks. Doug Funnie slouched in his chair, staring at the background on his company desktop. Life had not gone as planned since his glory days at Bluffington High School. After graduation, Doug spent the rest of his formative years at Bluffington College. A “Go Nematoads!” poster sat above his cramped desk, reflecting the soft, flickering fluorescent light above his cubicle. It reminded him of better days.
While his daydreaming and lackadaisical nature had seemed like charming and childlike qualities his parents adored when he was younger, at age 19, Doug was diagnosed with ADHD. He was then put on a strict regimen of medication. Doug longed for the days of his youth when he could do nothing but strum his banjo and play make believe with his dog, Porkchop.
Just the thought of Porkchop brought a tear to his eye. His old companion had met his end when Doug’s neighbor, Bud Dink, accidentally ran him over with his newest gadget, a combination of a lawnmower and a steamroller, which was “very expensive.” He now kept the urn with Porkchop’s ashes at his cubicle, above the filing cabinet so he could remember better days and life outside BluffCo. As the nostalgia washed over him, Doug began to weep. His cries echoed through the hallways of the dreary manufacturing company, but most of his colleagues were used to this kind of outburst. BluffCo had crushed plenty of dreams, and it seemed as if it had claimed another.
“Pull it together, man,” said a familiar voice. Doug, through bleary, tear-soaked eyes looked up to see his manager, and his once best friend, Skeeter Valentine.
“It’s just Porkchop…and my life. Skeeter, where did it all go wrong?” wailed Doug.
“It’s ‘Mr. Valentine’ now, Doug. Show some damn professionalism. I’m your boss. This isn’t high school anymore.”
“Sorry, Skee–I mean, Mr. Valentine. Old habits, you know?”
“Yeah, I can tell. You still wear that same green sweater vest every day. People are concerned.”
Doug lifted his head, his tone a little brighter. “People are worried? You mean, people care?”
“Not about you, about themselves. You’ve been ambling around the office for the last month like a lunatic. People think you’re about to have a breakdown and hurt someone.” Mr. Valentine furrowed his brow, “Maybe this isn’t the place for you, Doug, you know? Not the right fit.”
Doug’s world began crashing around him. “Come on, Skeet, you’ve got to do me a solid. I can turn it around! Here–here are those budget reports you wanted,” he said, as he frantically put together some coffee-stained, crumpled documents and handed them to his boss.
“These were due last Wednesday. I had to stay late and finish them myself. Beebe would kill me if she knew I was covering for you. I knew there would be some consequences to banging the boss’s daughter, but after Mr. Bluff made me manager and Beebe and I got married, I have my own interests to look out for,” Mr. Valentine whispered angrily. “This is your last chance, Doug, for old time’s sake. And don’t call me SKEETER!”
Mr. Valentine turned on his heals and headed down the hall. Doug, with a quick, reassuring glance at Porkchop’s urn, made a vow to himself then and there to get it together. He owed it to himself to take some responsibility and live life with some purpose.“Today is a new beginning, world,” he said to himself. “Today, I’m the new and improved Douglas Yancy Funnie!”
Doug turned on his computer and fired up his inbox. “Time to get some work done,” he thought. “There’s even a new message in here. Let’s treat this with enthusiasm and gusto!” Doug clicked the message, and began to read aloud: “ ‘You are cordially invited to the wedding of Miss Patricia Mayonnaise and Mister Roger Klotz–‘ WHAT?” Doug exclaimed. “NOOOOOOO!!!!!”