Walden King’s auto-pilot car crash investigation comes back clean. The MoreCorp Motors system was good, per ping from admin twins Cocoa and Marsh. This message is punctuated with emojis expressing complex feels, mourning and rejoicing (but not tears of joy, the world’s most popular emoji). It should reassure us, colleagues on the TLDR team, that Walden was responsible for his death. There was no tek glitch in the car that drives itself.
But whatevs. MoreCorp Motors always minimizes the gravity of accidents, so this seems like standard spin to me. Auto-pilot on the fritz is the oldest excuse in the no-show book, as the systems do fail. Wolf, however, thinks it’s a murderous plot, coverup for a corporate kill. I’d be more dismissive of his suspicion if our next assignment wasn't so sinister, the systematic undoing of a company hero who last Greenween was totally winning.
Do you remember the time we celebrated nature in concrete Silicon with a costume contest? Winged Forest Gods didn’t win but learned that everything is compost. The winners, if you recall, wore t-shirts purchased with coupons from a then-newly-acquired MoreCorp business founded by Buzz Ribeye.
His was a promising startup bought for 100 billion greenies. Ribeye’s patented method algorithmically targets consumers with coupons based on their interests. He didn’t invent deals on the webs but perfected them, or so it seemed when the world’s friendliest company wanted to buy Ribeye’s biz. Now MoreCorp's going to destroy the coupon king, former darling.
This is pinteresting. Here’s why. Goddess from People Ops says my MidCorp at MoreCorp contract is only extended eight weeks. Wolf, Haiti, Zen, Mochi, Apple, Donut, Bacon, and everyone else it seems, got six months. Surely you can see why my curiosity’s piqued. Ribeye’s takedown informs my understanding of corporate methodology. On a plus note, I’m gratified to find that no one’s too big or small for the People Operations way. Whether you’re a contractor or a coupon king, going down is going down. It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s about process.
The proof is in the Plus Undo Dish Dirt Initiative Non Grata, better known as PUDDING. That is the full name for the way, MoreCorp’s termination research. As is no doubt evident, the investigations discredit a person ahead of dismissal. Just so the record’s straight.
We swallow PUDDING to make a spreadsheet with categories describing, generally, why Ribeye sux, accompanied by numbers. See, reducing Ribeye isn’t as easy as eliminating me. There’s more stuff. He was first investigated and deemed awesome enough to own, whereas I’m just a rental with tentative ties via MidCorp, hardly worth a notation, forget a spreadsheet.
My assignment is to find errors in previously-made favorable assessments of Ribeye, then mark the docs Non-Responsive (NR), leaving extensive evidence, created later, that he’s no good. The negatives dominate the final spreadsheet. Basically, the biz wiz is now on the shit list, and TLDR’s Disco Ninjas, the text reduction team, make the shit list look long, maximizing losses while minimizing wins. Sure, it’s weird, as the final record will reflect that MoreCorp spent 100 billion greenies on a failing business founded by a maniac. But the record, however brief, will be too long. No one will read it.
The recipe for records is simple as pie. PUDDING reduced by TLDR. We sum up Ribeye’s many alleged professional infractions, collected by People Ops. Next, he’ll be released with no pay, although his contract has elaborate clauses that ensure he wins big even if MoreCorp ditches him and the coupon biz. But that contract is from then, when he was great, and this is now. Ribeye’s bad now.
In fairness to him, it should be noted that coupons, which were once awesome, aren’t making money, and that’s probably fueling corporate distaste for Ribeye today. How shaving from savings would pay wasn’t ever clear to me, but that’s not the official reason for his fall, so no worries. Now it’s about Ribeye’s communication, and I’m intrigued, obviously, as that’s the claimed reason I’m in the Clubhouse doge-house too.
Voraciously, I devour batches of electronic documentation, forms grouped by complaint type. At first, Ribeye was widely admired for his humor and brilliance, called two people price of one and super fun. Sound familiar? But his jokes aren’t funny anymore. Anonymous colleagues feel some type of way, not good. They file offended forms.
Moral of the story? Numbers protect no one. The coupon king had all the metrics and now look at him. Everything is compost. So I look at me, Ellipsis, a reader with eight weeks on her contract, and compile my own record. It’s made of physical artifacts, sacrifices for The Arts Old, scribbled notebooks, stolen doublespeak, corporate secrets. Also, images taken at the photo booth in the Clubhouse entrance, near the spiral staircase and plastic tree with a sign that reads: Stop! Disco Ninjas Killing Above.
The photo booth has adjustable backgrounds that produce images of anywhere. Underwater in the ocean or floating in space, fronting a rock band or hanging in a cool downtown lounge, climbing mountains or forest bathing — look like you’ve been everywhere yet go nowhere, or to work in Silicon. It’s travel in the triple-post-mod! Images are printable and instantly develop in any wash or color, black and white, sepia, vibrant hues. Plus, filters adjust to reflect any mood, whether the blues or la vie en rose. The pics print in rows of four and I take dozens a day, not yet certain but suspecting that this is connected to the coming cursing.
At home, in the forest, I sense the redwoods rustling, whispering, telling secrets, speaking in poetic deconstructions, a tongue even more chic than destruction. One night, in a tiny red cabin nestled in a mountain deep in the UnCorp woods, outside the drone delivery zone, I assess evidence collected, my record, laying out images from the photo booth on the wooden table, lining them up in rows.
Here I am. All my faces in all the fake places. Smiling, glaring, snarling, squinting, dark doe eyes wide, searching the eye of the machine from outer space and underwater, not waving but drowning, swimming with fishes, rocking out. Hair up, hair down, specs on, now off, day after day, this face worn but not seen, self, this mystery. Me. Not the person MoreCorp needs but an alien with questions about a strange place called home.
Does Buzz Ribeye know the samurai’s secret is self-reliance? Don't sweat the PUDDING. It’s all a good cut on this porker. I could leave work, sit in the forest and wait for word on what's next. Maybe assimilation's impossible or the MoreCorp experiment has lost its luster. Certainly I’ve got less to lose than Ribeye if I go.
But no. I should finish things properly. It would be good … if good and bad mattered. Good if I could. The inevitable is in my bones. I feel it. My third eye sees the future even while my brain resists and wishes it could be some other way. It cannot. Things fall apart. Intuition turns into resolve and action.
Anyway, Hound’s on the case. As I examine my faces on the table, a loud clacking sounds on the uneven steps outside, the big doge’s giant paws making their way upstairs. A thump as he slumps on the porch above. The doge is not pleased. He howls at the moon, beseeching the multiverse. It listens.
Suddenly, the tiny cabin jerks and the stilts below, holding the house to the mountainside, sway. On the table all the photos shake, the neat rows of faces in disarray. Me, a big mess. When I stand to open the door and hush Hound, who’s still howling, my head spins and I sit back down, grabbing the bench, almost missing it, slipping.
The dark sky outside flashes a pulsing purple, dissolving into a latticework of thin lights, like cobwebs glinting in the sun or cuttlefish signaling in the sea. Electric and just for a second. Then the night sky’s black.
I stand, walk a few steps to the front door, open it. Hound, ghostly and grand, is at the top of the stairs, not howling anymore. He looks down and whimpers, beckoning with his giant white head. I go up to join him and sit by the doge’s side as he licks his wound. A split down the middle of Hound’s long black nail signals big things, magix. The dogerman winter has pawed the quantum and now anything can happen. Even the impossible, a happy ending.