Sunday, August 11, 2013

Waiting for the Axe in the Skyscraper

OK, I haven't exactly finished this one yet, but I'm in that part where the remaining pages are so few, they're thinner than a dinner napkin.  (Virtually speaking.  I'm reading it on Kindle.)    I think that's far enough along to have gotten the drift of Joshua Ferris's Then We Came to the End, don't you?

Ferris's characters work at a Chicago ad agency.  They're living the good life, getting paid an awful lot, which they pour straight into their mortgages out in Naperville.

Then the agency loses business and starts letting people go.   This is a situation where you want to look busy, seeing as how unbusy = expendable.   One character brings his library book, photocopies the entire tome, then sits down to read the pile at his desk, looking very busy indeed as he flips thoughtfully from page to page.  

They meet in one office or another to gossip.  They secretly write screenplays.  They steal one another's office chairs and antidepressants.  If somebody mentions donuts they all roll, like marbles in a box, straight for the break room.

Their female boss "was intimidating, mercurial, unapproachable, fashionable and consummately professional.  She was not a big woman--in fact, she was rather petite--but when we thought of her from home at night, she loomed large."

These smart, overpaid lemmings make for a pretty amusing read as they all await their fate on the increasingly empty fifty-ninth through sixty-second floors of their heart-of-Chicago skyscraper.  At least, it's amusing to me this year.  We've had some years where lay-off humor wasn't the least bit funny.

Some language cow patties, a whole lot of characters to juggle, but I think you'll catch on.

If I wanted to put off work like Ferris's ad-agency crew (and I am way too good at putting off work), I'd make some:

Chocolate Truffle Cookies 

Naturally, you will have to hide these well if you want enough to get you through a week's worth of procrastination.  I could suggest some good hiding spots, but that would be giving away my secrets, wouldn't it? 

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