Web Hipsters Succumb To My Brainwaves / 29 August 1998

Are you sitting down? You mean you seriously stand up while using your computer? Is it for some kind of ergonomic thing? I remember when I was temping at the Bank of America there was one woman who was like a walking prosthetic circus of ergonomics and had evidently gone through the catalog and ordered three or four of everything and looked prepped for some rollerball or bionic fence-jumping or something and part of her regimen was that she had to stand up when working on her computer and rest her chin on a cushiony board and keep her eyes level and use a raised keyboard and just the whole nine yards. And that’s creepy enough, but what made it really unsettling was that whenever I stood up to stretch or go to the bathroom to cry silently about my miserable existence, she was always there, right above the cubicle wall, staring right at me with all her scary equipment and padding and supports.

My point is, though, that I hope you’re able to enjoy the modern marvels of ergonomics while still being able to sit down at your computer because I have some alarming news and I wouldn’t want you to be overcome with shock and stumble and perhaps drop your glass of everclear-n-beer or whatever potable it was that brought you to this site today. The news is that I started a new job this week at ye olde HotWired, leaving behind my frazzled brethren at WebTV to fend for themselves. I am a traitor and a quitter. But Evany gave me a call a few months back and we had this conversation (lucky for me I record on DAT every single phone conversation I have and then get some Kelly girls to transcribe and laminate and bind them for me!):

E: So let’s say, hypothetically, I have a job possibility for you.

J: No way. I’m still in physical therapy from the last one.

E: This one’s golden. Absolutely no deep groin squats necessary.

J: There’s no reason I should believe you.

E: Have you heard of HotWired?

J: I read something about them a coupla years ago in Psychology Today. All those kids who were having epileptic fits.

E: They’ve toned down the color scheme somewhat.

J: I’m perfectly happy here at WebTV. Sometimes there’s free oatmeal in the kitchen.

E: They need you for a think tank.

J: I’ve been down that road before and it always ends up in hurt feelings and a lot of whiteboards.

E: I know, but this one involves an actual tank. And protriptyline.

J: I’m listening.

And so now I find myself making the commute from Mountain View back into the city, Monday through Friday, just like any other working stiff. At 9am I enter the converted warehouse of Wired Digital, pass through a disturbing and thorough security system that involves the inspection of both iris and urine, then create some sort of distraction (lately I’ve been fond of the flare gun or hiring one of the guys out on the sidewalk to streak through the office) so no one will see where I skulk away to, namely the ultrasecret room known only as “Black Betty 1.” There I strip down to a custom-built waterproof diaper and submit myself to the daily electrolysis that removes whatever minute hairs might have surfaced since the previous day (a humiliating and strangely arousing process). Then I am lowered into the tank, a large, steel structure about the size, shape, and mass of a Toyota Camry. It is filled with what I assume to be water. This is all handled by four men and/or women who are competely cloaked and masked in deep crimson. They never say a word. They have no detectable odor. Once I’m in the water, which is always at a pleasant and precise temperature, electrodes are attached to various key energy points on my body that I won’t go into right now. A thick, black cable that evidently provides my T3 connection is plugged into a socket that’s built into the side of my diaper. Then the lid of the tank is closed and sealed, and I am plunged into complete darkness and silence.

Then I just float there and think.

At 5pm, the tank is opened and I am hoisted out, given a soothing lotion massage by one of my masked co-workers, whom I hope is a nubile, bespectacled intern from Wellesley but could be, for all I know, Joey Anuff. Then I get dressed and go home, just in time to catch a little Behind the Music.

It’s an OK job. I think they’ve just been inputting stuff so far, at least that’s the vibe I get. But as I look over the site, I see a few hints here and there that they’ve been pulling stuff out, too.

Joshua Green Allen

Fireland is a rickety old website by Joshua Allen.

A novel called Chokeville and a beverage-review site called The Knowledge For Thirst.

A great deal of typing is collected in the Archive.

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