The brain is down

“What the hell is everybody doing in here?”

Mandy, the union representative, shifted comfortably in a break room chair. She studied her manager. There was an empty seat beside her. She gestured to it, inviting the manager to sit. He did not. “The brain is down,” she said. “Nobody can clock in.”

“So take a roll and we’ll clock everybody in manually when IT gets the brain back up.”

She shook her head. She articulated the ‘o’ in her, “No” with extra wide lips.

“What did you say to me?”

“The last time this happened, HR refused to validate the hand signed timesheets and it was an entire pay cycle before they got it straight. I told you, ‘No’”.

“Are you on strike?”

The union rep laughed. She had been voted into this position for her laid back attitude and sense of humor. Also, because she knew when to toe the line and when to draw it. “We’re all ready to clock in and work our full shifts from whenever that computer comes up until eight hours later.”

The manager stalked down to talk to IT. “Why wasn’t I called? How long has the brain been down?” he demanded. “And what is wrong with it this time.”

Nick, the IT department head, craned his neck to look up at the manager from his position inside the server closet. He said, “It seems to me the brain has got industrial disease.”

“What?!” The manager’s face wasn’t just red. It was chartreuse. “What the hell kind of cock and bull …” he began. Then he heard laughter and whipped around to see Mandy and half the packing department crowded behind him into Nick’s office.

“I demand to know what is happening!” he screamed.

“April Fool, boss,” said Mandy in that deadpan voice of hers. “April Fool.”


This week at Trifecta, it’s all about the Braaaaiins. Or rather, the brain. More like the COMPUTER brain, if you want to get technical. Which of course, we do. I’m looking very forward to the Trifecta magazine. I think it’s a great next step for this meme!

Last time I riffed on a song, I discovered my lonely place in the universe. And so today, in honor of the fact that Nick’s big line is pretty well ripped out of Mark Knopfler’s mouth, I give you an embed. Not typically my style, but necessary to complete the picture here.  Enjoy, courtesy of YouTube, Dire Straits’ “Industrial Disease”.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


The brain is down — 44 Comments

  1. This is a good one! She got him ‘good’! April Fools has so many possibilities, yet I can’t ever seem to pull a good one. Great writing for the prompt. I like “chartreuse.”
    Hop over and visit Sandra’s recent post Dear BlessingsMy Profile

  2. I admire folks who are able to pull off pranks, since I never seem able to do so myself. Your piece is perfect, as always.
    Nicely done!

    • I never succeed myself. But I love love love it when somebody does. Erm. Just not on me. So don’t anybody consider it an invitation.

  3. I have been in that server closet, frantically trying to diagnose problems within the phone ringing non-stop and people asking questions like “do you know the server’s down?” Not fun at all. Glad it was only a joke on the manager, who, truth be told, looks like he needs a little levity in his life.
    Hop over and visit kgwaite’s recent post Gray MatterMy Profile

    • Here’s the real life scenario it was based on. I used to work at the job from hell. (Seriously. We sold books to libraries. We regularly found dead birds in our book totes.) The boss was a prick. (Understatement). There was this processing manager who screamed at everyone. (She’s actually a woman, but I made her a man for this). And we weren’t allowed to unionize.

      The company used this outdated homemade DOSbased time keeping system that broke about once a week. Now, my boss made damned sure we got our paychecks and that those paychecks were RIGHT when that happened. But the bitch out in processing? Christ. I think there were people who never got paid those weeks out in the warehouse.

      So I revised the scene to include a union. This is a power play. What’s the boss going to do? Fire them all? Bloody unlikely. Mandy is telling him to back off here, but she’s doing it humorously. She’s setting him up to turn around and see the whole damned department walking out in his mind and forcing him to think about if he really wants that.

  4. This was an interesting take on the prompt, but I have come to expect that of your writing. I like the power dynamics you put to work as you were leading us from one character to the next.

    Staying Connected

    • I don’t think anybody in the real company would have dared do anything like this. But oh so many of us would have loved to. And if anybody could have pulled it off, it would have been the shipping manager, because he was pretty laid back himself.

    • Nah. She’s one of these people who is willing to push the boss to make a point. If he doesn’t get the point this way, the packing department is going to call in sick next week. All of them. On the same day.

  5. I always enjoy the dialogue you write between your characters. It brings out the story and exposes characteristics of them that really define what you are trying to say in your writing. Great work!
    Hop over and visit Mel’s recent post Trifecta Writing Challenge: Time FliesMy Profile

  6. Ha! This is particularly amusing as I am sitting at work waiting for our servers to come back online. I can get onto the internet, just not our actual shared drive. Which means I can do exactly NO work.

    In a more relevant vein, I have to say that your dialog is spot on. I was a little confused about the line “The manager’s face wasn’t just red. It was chartreuse.” It would make a little more sense to me if chartreuse were a shad of red instead of green, but I love the word, and I can see where he’d be feeling a bit green around the gills in this situation!
    Hop over and visit Christine’s recent post Hands of SteelMy Profile

  7. Thanks for linking up to Trifecta this week, Jester. If you haven’t already done it, you might be interested in clicking on the “Meet Your Fellow Trifectans” tab on our site and introducing yourself there. Hope to see you back on Monday for the new prompt.
    Hop over and visit trifecta’s recent post Trifecta: Week Twenty-OneMy Profile