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Just like that

The God of the Office snaps out of extreme (he took this test that’s what it said) depression just like that and takes a walk in the sunshine. He calls his wife no answer. He calls his daughter no answer. He texts his wife. His daughter calls back and they talk for a while but she’s in a bad mood (maybe) and she sounds as if her phone is at the bottom of a long pipe ROWRROWRROWR and then before he can cheer her up the connection breaks off. His wife texts back. He thinks,
Yes this is awesome!
Lilacs and wisteria blooming at the same time.
The God of the Office thinks,
Hopefully no crow will show up until after I’ve been to the deli and have food for him.
One of the Mossad guys from the Israeli embassy is walking down the sidewalk six feet in front of the God of the Office. The God of the Office tries to act nonchalant.
The grey crow swoops down.
Hi, says the God of the Office. I don’t have anything for you now. Hang on ten minutes, til I get back from the store, okay?
He wonders what the Mossad guy is thinking.
A minute later, the crow buzzes him, a real close swoop, he can hear the wind in the feathers.
This is one of his favorite things.
Once again, the God of the Office explains the situation to the crow.
At the store he buys a sandwich. He was going to buy a salad too, but the store is out of plastic forks. So he gets some trail mix and at the cash register breaks down and gets generic Oreos.
They cost practically nothing.
The crow meets him up the street, a couple blocks up from the store, at the usual place. He gives it some curry chicken sandwich and they stand there, watching each other and eating. Then the God of the Office strolls up the hill, towards the office.
The crow comes back and he gives it some more sandwich. At the next street corner, a second crow, a black one, arrives and he tosses it some sandwich, the last piece, but the grey crow flies over and takes it.
Here have some trail mix, says the God of the Office. The black crow pecks at that. The grey crow comes back and the God of the Office gives him some trail mix too.
And that was lunch, mostly.
There were other things of course. The long line at the cash register. Wondering if the Israeli was really Mossad – wouldn’t Mossad agents have better-fitting suits? You’d think. Maybe not, though.
There were a lot of attractive people at the store, and a few less-attractive ones.
There was the Invisible Hand, about which the God of the Office has been thinking, in the sense of it being a bullshit justification for an unjust status quo the exact same way kings used to be kings “by the grace of God.”
Now they’re kings by the grace of the invisible hand.
The God of the Office is trying to figure out what the proper expression is for such bullshit justifications.
And a few other things.
And that was lunch.

You remind me of somebody

The god of the office goes to the advent market between the two big museums, across the street from more museums (on the one side) and a palace on the other, because it has a Christmas post office and his wife wants to mail Christmas cards with pretty holiday-themed stamps rather than the ugly printed stickers all the post offices have now. He is in a hurry because he only has an hour for lunch and it takes an estimated 30 minutes to get there from his office, unless there is heavy traffic, like today, in which case it takes 45 minutes to get there, meaning he will be at least half an hour late getting back to the office today. The god of the office reminds himself that everyone else at the office habitually comes back to work between 15 and 60 minutes late after lunch, everyone but him, and he decides to relax.

In this relaxed state, the god of the office searches the advent market for the Christmas post office but following a meticulous search determines there is none. There is a photo booth where it was last year. So he walks back to the parking garage to fetch his car and return to the office.

On his way there he notices a couple standing at one of the high, round tables people stand at at the advent market to drink their mulled wine and hot punch. The couple are looking at him with recognition.

What, thinks the god of the office, who considers himself invisible and therefore is uncomfortable being noticed.

There are four possibilities, he reckons. These are, in order of diminishing likelihood,

  1. They are wondering what a hobo is doing with so many Christmas cards;
  2. They are wondering if they have seen him somewhere before and if so, Where.
  3. They are wondering if he is some sort of artist, because who else has long white hair?
  4. They have him confused with some specific person.
  5. They actually know him and are insulted that he doesn’t recognize them.
  6. They find him attractive. Anything is possible, the god of the office reminds himself. There was a guy on the teevee on the science channel who was in (erotic, not platonic) love with a power plant, he reminds himself. So who knows?

Six things.

The god of the office, having changed his appearance, has grown used to not being recognized by people he hasn’t seen for a couple years, so being recognized, or “recognized”, feels weird.

He can’t stop wondering about the people.

They had that look you get when you see someone famous and want to be discreet. He had it himself when he was walking through town one night and saw Michael Haneke and his beautiful wife swaying drunk down the sidewalk, laughing, that look where you’re thinking, OMG MICHAEL HANEKE AND SPOUSE! ACT NORMAL!

Maybe they thought he was Michael Haneke, the god of the office thinks. Long white hair, white beard, beautiful wife.

What is Michael Haneke doing with all those Christmas cards, they might have asked each other.

And why is he wearing that shabby coat?

P.S. he is only 20 minutes late to work, and is the first one back.

The god of the office and the god of the streetcar

The god of the office is headed somewhere to learn something and gets on a streetcar to take him to the subway, but it is a different streetcar and turns left where the streetcar he wanted would have gone straight, but he looks at the chart showing the streetcar’s route and it will take him to an even better subway station so he decides to stay put and enjoy the ride.

There is a puddle of something under a seat two rows up, that is why the god of the office is sitting in the back row. He is quickly thankful for what looks like a puddle of piss because a few rows up, closer to where he would otherwise have sat, the god of the streetcar is saying something in a loud voice. The god of the office leans over for a better look. The god of the streetcar is in his thirties or maybe late twenties, pig shave, wife-beater shirt, random tattoos, large can of beer, open, despite the fact that it is just after nine in the morning.

And what a glorious morning it is! Vienna never looked this nice. Or, this section of Vienna, which the god of the office has never before seen, has never looked this good to him.

A woman wearing a head scarf gets off the street car and that is the god of the street car’s cue to give his opinion of foreigners, who are stealing jobs from Austrians, and apartments, and although they cannot speak German can somehow communicate well enough when they want to to take advantage of welfare and social services. There are some, in the past, and maybe even present, who would say kill the foreigners, but the god of the street car would not kill them, because he is a Mensch – he would just send them home, every last one of them.

The god of the office, who is himself a foreigner, imagines someone speaking up to the god of the streetcar and getting knifed.

The god of the office notes that no one is seated within three rows of the god of the subway. He looks out the window, where there is a park with large cages inside which boys play soccer. The god of the office is careful to keep his feet well away from the puddle of piss, which migrates slowly here and there as the street car accelerates, or slows, or goes around corners.

The god of the office first wants to tune out the other man’s ranting, but decides to listen closely instead. Because, crazy thing: who knows what something is good for? The universe has funny ways of communicating with us.

The god of the street car says his grandfather said, and he agrees, that politicians should be sewn up in a large sack and beaten with a baseball bat because they are nothing but lackeys of the rich and powerful.

The god of the office raises his eyebrows. When did the god of the street car’s rant take this tack? He does not condone violence such as that detailed by the god of the street car, but otherwise this could be something he has preached to his daughters in the car on the way to town.

Servants of bankers and high finance. The curse of materialism.

The god of the street car is channeling the god of the office!

That is me, thinks the god of the office. Never shall I rant again, for evermore.

Thanks, universe, he says out loud.