The Invisible Floor / 14 April 2001

I’m having a curious reaction to a life of liberalism and to the bottomless freedom of being a contractor with enough money in the bank to just about pay this month’s rent. I’m ineluctably drawn to a career with the Central Intelligence Agency, to the rigid boundaries and rules that were established by men in the last century. I wear an awkwardly fitting suit and am always made aware of my place in the hierarchy, not through an org chart but through vocabulary and gesture. My memoranda are immaculately spelled and I drink in moderation.Then there comes the day when my boss asks me a small question and it’s clear that his off-handed tone is an act, and the fact that I realize this — on a kind of subconscious level, even — confirms my suspicion that he’ll never progress beyond his current station while I’ll be able to leapfrog over him with such ease that it can be accomplished merely by not saying something. And so I don’t, and he glances back at me just a little longer than he was supposed to because he knows I passed the test and that I’ll soon be gone, transferred to a new floor in a different building a few blocks away, an invisible floor that is surrounded by other legitimate floors doing non-government business, providing citizens with insurance, assembling construction teams, programming computer software. I will continue to write memos, but will now print them out with a kind of ecstatic nausea since I know my words will cause significant events to occur, often in places I’ve never been.So I give my staring boss a thumbs-up which is getting really inappropriate, but it’s still me we’re talking about and it’s hard for me to suppress my glee and that will be my downfall many years later, after I’ve tied up all the loose ends with tidy knots and after decades of not having to worry about procedure. But I think it’ll be OK, I think those intervening decades will be worth the “heart attack” that cuts the good times tragically short.

Previously / Yslandia
Next / Beaster

Joshua Green Allen

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