Monday, October 13

I am inherently an apolitical creature. This, along with superhuman physical acuity and a willingness to slaughter unquestioningly, is a key qualification for someone of my calling. For the ninja, allegiance to any person, political party, or Dancing With the Stars contestants would be tantamount to weakness.

Yet I am intrigued by the tortuous workings of U.S. politics. It is my understanding that I am prohibited from “voting” in the upcoming “election,” the result of falsified citizenship papers, unverifiable birth records, and other apparent disqualifications too abundant to enumerate. Still, I foster an intense, sometimes illogical urge to support one or another “candidate” in this contest, mostly because I am informed my job may depend on the outcome. I admittedly possess a feeble grasp of the so-called “electoral process” (though, from what I can ascertain about the last couple of elections, they seem not unlike common practices in feudal Japan, where shogun warlords unfairly and often bloodthirstily seized leadership positions through ruthless power grabs). It is all very confusing.

I digress, though. As economic uncertainty looms, many within the firm worry there will eventually be the dreaded off-layings. Of course, for a low-level employee like me, such suggestions lend pause. At lunch last Tuesday, the discussion turned toward this topic and Junior Salesman Peter spoke of “housecleaning.” This gave me some hope. Though I am allergic to virtually every brand of all-purpose cleaner, demotion to a position on the janitorial staff would certainly be preferable to joblessness. Current demand for my traditional services is tepid, and collecting unemployment does not exactly seem befitting of a ninja.

Tuesday, October 14

This morning I awoke with reinvigorated purpose and firmness of mind. I will not cede my position at the company without a fight! (Metaphorically speaking, of course. A martial-arts-based elimination process would increase my chances of retention to a laughable degree.)

There are, including myself, a total of eight employees on the junior sales team. Rumors abound that at least four of these jobs are in jeopardy. The likelihood that even half of us would be off-laid is minimal, let alone all of us. Who would forge upper management’s expense reports and obtain their myriad daily Frappuccinos? No. We are the rock upon which their coffee habits are built. I will assume, therefore, at least a 50 percent chance of keeping my position.

This does not mean I should rest on my laurels, however, or leave my desk at all for any reason. (I brought to work with me today a suitcase and toiletries.) In the end, though, I am confident I will outperform the other members of my department in every aspect of the junior-sales position, not including my longstanding inability to figure out how to change my voicemail greeting from the default setting.

Wednesday, October 15

Closed four pending sales today, thereby beating my previous one-day record of three and tying the departmental best. Vice President of Sales Stan Friedman, whose adulation will be a valuable asset come review time, congratulated me heartily in the presence of other management personnel, patting me on the back for a job well done and saying I reminded him of a “young Mr. Roboto.” Unsure who this Roboto was—a former junior employee?—I smiled merrily and bobbed my head in agreement. This generated boisterous laughter from others in the room, who I can only assume concurred with Stan’s assessment of my performance.

I must remember to extend a nice “domo arigato” and handshake to Stan for the compliment.

Thursday, October 16

Today at the office, there occurred numerous closed-door, management-only meetings—indeed an ominous portent. Justifiably nervous about what could be transpiring in these assemblies, my co-workers insisted I defy my code of ethics and use my stealth abilities to listen in on the proceedings. Reluctantly, I agreed, but only under the condition I involve no recording devices or weapons of any kind—business-casual espionage. With the help of a connecting air duct and some smoke-screen pellets (i.e., a decoy intercom-page from Administrative Assistant Melinda), I was able to make my way undetected from the conference room to Office Manager Ken’s office, where I then took cover behind a lovely Ficus benjamina.

Management-only meetings, I discovered, are glorious! Relatively little is accomplished—in fact, nothing is accomplished—but the social perks more than offset the dearth of efficiency. Amiable words are exchanged freely and coffee and doughnuts consumed liberally. At one point, they even turned on television for an hour’s time to watch The Price Is Right. An enviable situation indeed. I suppose they have earned such status, though, being managers. Alas …

Unfortunately for me, the gathering provided little valuable information regarding us lower-level employees, other than a casual mention that one worker, whom they laughingly referred to as “the seventh member of Styx,” would be off-laid tomorrow.

Seventh member of Styx? Hmm …

Probably someone from the mailroom.

Friday, October 17

I realize now what a mooncalf I have been! This morning, Office Manager Ken furnished horrible news: I am being off-laid. I AM THE SEVENTH MEMBER OF STYX! Seething with the bloodlust of a disgraced warrior, I calmly asked Ken to explain himself.

“It’s just that, with the economy where it’s at, we have no choice but to downsize,” offered Ken gently. “You have to understand it’s a last resort.”

I did not understand! Nor did I understand the term “downsize,” at first, but quickly deduced it to be the opposite from what Research Editor Benjamin does to his meals at McDonald’s.

“Shuruku, you’ve served us well the past couple of years, and that won’t go unrecognized,” he continued. “We can offer you a modest severance package. And, of course, our eternal gratitude.” Office Manager Ken then handed me a large cardboard box in which to place “any personal effects [I’ve] accrued” in my cubicle over the past couple of years.

Considering the ninja’s typically minimalist nature, under more jovial circumstances I might have derived amusement from this suggestion. At the time, I wished mostly to lop off his arms, though. Dumbfuck Ken.

Saturday, October 18

And so my tenure in the world of commodity ingredients sputters, seizes, and stalls to its undignified end. Just as it seems I am on the fast track to regional-sales superstardom, my advance is steamrolled by an unpredictable and ruthless juggernaut of subprime-mortgage crises and bank failures.

For years, I have remained true to the order of the ninja, abiding always by its code, never straying from any mission with which I was entrusted, regardless of danger to self. But no more! I’m not a robot without emotions! No longer will I let that ancient discipline delay the horrific fates of each and every wretched manager at the firm! (Except for Regional Sales Manager Ron Rodriguez, who’s an all-around OK guy, and bought me lunch often.) It is with unbridled abandon and great anticipation that I now (just temporarily) betray my allegiance—that I now say, “Fuck you, order of the ninja!” I am a free man, if only for one fleeting rotation of the earth! That is all I will need to exact my revenge on my former superiors, to show each of their ignominious ranks the true meaning of the term “severance package”!

Though first I should probably update my résumé. Alas.