Myles woke to sunlight streaming through the window. Weekends were the only time he got any quality sleep, during the week he’d have stressful dreams about forgetting something important for a meeting. He never could find the proper conference room in time, and when he arrived everyone stared at him without saying a word.
Grabbing a breakfast shake from the fridge, he walked over to his desktop. Time to see what was lurking on the USB drive. Myles inserted the connector, slotting it home. A new window opened showing multiple files and folders. It was more than he realized.
Drinking sips of shake, he paged through the documents in order. Myles knew how to program, but he didn’t advertise that skill to his superiors. He’d seen how they treat their coders, with strict security protocols and grueling “360 Reviews”. He wouldn’t wish that on his worst enemy.
Myles liked being “in the zone”, where attention focused to laser brightness and the rest of the world fell away, grey and forgotten. Several hours passed before his back started to ache. Stretching, he went to the bathroom and washed his face. He stared in the mirror, not quite believing what he had just read.
SAS stood for “Short Attention Span”. It wasn’t a study on hyperactive teenagers or sugar-crazy kids, it was a cold clinical term applied to how human attention worked. From what he could gather, SAS was the vanguard of SuccINCt’s new product and advertising strategy.
It devolved into pseudo-marketing speak and other business terms which were too dense for Myles to understand. He did have an idea of how it worked, though. It wasn’t much different than a new computer language. Syntax and rules designed to achieve given results.
He just had a hard time believing that any of it would work.
People weren’t just black boxes, where you shoved in data and got something out in a reliable fashion. They had free will and unique thoughts. It bothered him that SuccINCt was reducing people to monetary resources. Whatever it was, from the files he had read it looked like every bit of advertising in the past six months had been using it.
Myles shook his head, walking back to his computer. He had chores to do, and the rest of this could wait. If he only had the smarts to make a robot to go to work for him, now that would be something. Laughing out loud, he smiled and started cleaning his apartment.
Monday morning, dark skies in the dead of winter. Myles didn’t mind the longer night hours, it put the sun in sync with his drowsiness. Nothing worse than a bright morning when you are still rubbing sleep out of your eyes. He yawned, walking across the plaza to the lobby entrance, dominated by the backlit SuccINCt logo.
Swiping his card, he pushed through the turnstile. Security nodded as Myles held up his ID, secured by a lanyard around his neck. The elevator thankfully was empty. He hated the awkward ride up to the main offices with other people in the car, each pretending to stare at the floor number display.
Arriving at his floor, he navigated to his desk. It was in the middle of the open office, which gave everyone visiblity of what he was doing. He didn’t like it, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. It felt like being in a fishbowl, with people tapping on the glass.
Logging in, he saw an alert pop up on his screen. SuccINCt was proud of their interoffice “memo” system. A supervisor or higher-up could issue a demand or general policy announcement, and everyone would see it. They could be targeted too. His note said “See me soon-as.”, with the name of his immediate boss.
That wasn’t good. Before the morning meeting, too.
Myles swallowed and straightened his tie. What could it be this time? He walked up to Gail’s door and rapped softly.
Gail Webb was a no-nonsense kind of manager, and Myles tried his best to avoid one-on-one situations like these. She had the look of someone sizing you up, probing for weakness. His stressful dreams were fueled by Gail’s disapproving glare.
Myles sat down, tablet ready to take notes.
“So. Tell me about Friday evening.”, Gail peered over designer glasses, hair drawn back into a bun. Manicured nails drumming on the desktop.
“Well, uh, Friday. I uh, was getting the financial reports done.”
“The copier is on the top floor. Security said you were in Prototyping.”
Miles swallowed nervously. Dammit, he had been rumbled by Security. Just tell her something, anything.
“I had to send an email, so I went down there because it was closest.”
“Let me be clear, you are still an intern. That means you only go where your duties require it.”
Myles hated confrontations. It made him sweat, face growing warm as his cheeks turned red. He had to say something that showed he was on task. His mind ran through a blizzard of words, Myles felt like he was in a heavy storm with high winds blinding his eyes.
“The reports were taking so long I decided to take a walk down the stairs. You know that I hate elevators. So on the way I was thinking about how I needed to send this email. With the copies going on, you see. No use in having me sit there when there’s just a counter to look at. So, I get down to the Prototyping floor and got on a computer to get that email sent like I said before.”, Myles spoke rapidly, trying to impress.
Gail blinked, fingers still. She looked like she was staring at something far away, beyond the walls.
“So, Tell me about Friday evening.”
Gail had repeated herself. That never happened. In fact, Gail hated to repeat things to underlings. The oddness of it prickled the hairs on the back of his neck.
“I had to send an email, while the copies were running.”
“Fine, see you at the morning meeting.”
Just like that. Myles stood and left Gail’s office, walking back to his desk.
What had just happened? Was it something he had said? It couldn’t be. The only thing he had done was expound at length, something he tried not to do at work. He had been desperate to say anything, so he brain-dumped whatever he had on his mind.
It was like watching a computer reboot. Myles tapped his keyboard idly, staring at the screen.
Another memo popped up, “Morning Meeting – Conference Room B”.
He had another meeting to attend. Sighing, Myles grabbed his tablet joining the others lined up at the entrance.
There had to be more to this, he thought. If only he knew what.
(To be continued.)