The following questions were posed by you, my co-workers. Rather than answer them individually, I think I’ll do so collectively. I apologize if your specific question isn’t picked, there are simply too many excellent ones to choose from…

1. What in god’s name is that thing in the hallway? I noticed it upon my arrival to the office this morning. I’m frightened. Are you responsible?

Yes, but no need to be frightened! It’s just a project I’ve been working on that should be finished any day now. For the past few weeks I’ve had it conveniently hidden away in the storage room next to the elevator shaft, but it no longer fits. Hence its new location.

2. It’s very large and disturbing. It pulses and beeps and hisses. It also emits a strange, noxious odor. Is it a sculpture of some kind? A machine? A robot?

Yes, it’s a robot. But for the time being I’m just calling it “Untitled Project #1.”

3. Who are you?

Merely a temp, hired to work in the reception area, answering the phones and greeting visitors. Supporting my inventor’s way of life, doing my thing.

4. I’ve heard a rumor that you’ve been sleeping overnight here in the office. True?

If it’s okay with all of you, I’d like to limit this FAQ to the robot…

5. When I got to work yesterday, I found a pillow and a blanket in my cubicle. Are you responsible? If so, why?

Okay, okay! I’m currently between “real” apartments. For the past few weeks, yes, I’ve been staying overnight here in the office, sleeping beneath various desks or on top of piles of your work. I do love it here. I’ve been tapping into a creativity that I didn’t know previously existed. I love the emptiness. I love the feeling that I’m the only one in the world. I love foraging for “found objects” to make my masterpiece bigger and better. I love watching TV in the break room and taking leisurely strolls to get the creative juices flowing. The cleaning crew doesn’t seem to mind.

6. That robot’s preventing me from getting to my desk! It’s taking up the entire hallway! Can I move it?

DO NOT TOUCH IT! It’s very sensitive to outside stimuli! Have you touched it? If so, walk slowly backwards and preferably out of the building. Don’t even think about it! (And don’t pretend to leave and then come back. It’ll know.) If you do confront it again, prostrate yourself before it. That seems to make it the most content.

7. How long will you be sticking around?

At least until June, when Leslie returns from maternity leave.

8. Will you take that monstrosity with you?

I hope so, I’d hate to leave it behind! On the other hand, I wouldn’t dare try to “cut it down” and haul it out—it seems to have taken a liking to its new home.

9. I just discovered a tunnel leading from the men’s bathroom into a large, cavernous space hidden between the walls. It almost looks like it’s being turned into an apartment or laboratory of some kind—as if someone will soon be moving in. Was this your doing?

Again, I hate to be rude, but I’d like to limit this FAQ to the robot, thanks.

10. The robot is now rocking back and forth. It looks angry. It’s spitting out some type of viscous liquid. Should it be doing that?

Wow, that’s a new one. A red liquid? Or a yellow liquid? Probably doesn’t matter either way, as I don’t know what the liquid is. This is my first robot. All this is novel for me, too!

11. I have no question, per se. I just wanted to inform you that the robot is starting to speak.

Is it telling you that if you don’t feed it, it’ll kill you? Try Pop-Tarts from the snack machine. This worked for me the other night.

12. Bolts of lightning are shooting out of the robot’s eyes! The robot is attacking the marketing department. The robot is flying around and around in circles. It has a buzz-saw on its side!

Yes, I am obviously aware of that. I’ll attempt to “tweak” these and other problems after the office clears out for the evening. In other words, I’ll do it when I can think, you know, without any major distractions, such as answering the phone or your queries.

13. I think I already know the answer to this, but will you sic the robot on us if we force you to leave?


14. So you’re telling us that everybody should just go back to work and carry on as normal? Are you mad?

About as mad as any “student of the universe” who’s just created an invention-for-the-ages out of computer scraps and scavenged office supplies. Anyway, it’s time for lunch and I’m off to grab some deli and sticks of turkey jerky.

15. This thing has cornered me in my office and is now screaming at me in what sounds like a violent, otherworldly language. I’m scared.

Ha! It’s certainly not shy, I can tell you that! I don’t know, wave at it or something. By the way, in my down time, I also create handcrafted, artisan jewelry. Might make for the perfect gift?! I’ve taken the liberty of leaving a catalogue on my desk. See you in a few!

— “Andrew in Reception”