Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Smirk

[Media prompt] Swedish company Epicenter will embed a chip into about 150 workers, so bosses can monitor toilet breaks and how long they work.
The Smirk

There it was again. The same smirk he had been seeing all morning.

Alva, the receptionist, was the first one.

“Good morning, Felix,” she said, when he came in to work. “Did you have a good evening?”

He was about the reply when he noticed it; a sly smile. He shrugged it off. Alva was a charming young girl, always friendly and smiling. He had surely misread her. But later, when he put his head in to Hjalmar’s office to say hello, he saw the same smile.

“Ah, Felix,” he said, standing to greet him. “I trust you had a long and happy evening.”

It was definitely a smirk. There was no other way to describe it. Felix said that, yes, he had indeed enjoyed his evening, though it did cross his mind why Hjalmar thought it should be longer or shorter than any other. He walked to his office, a feeling in his stomach he had sometimes experienced at school; the faint awareness that everyone else was in on a joke about which he had no idea.

He was busy for most of the morning. He had a conference call with the Hong Kong buying office, and then a tough call with a Bangladesh factory over a quality issue. There was a meeting before lunch with a consultant introducing her services. At one o’clock he stood up and stretched. He was looking forward to lunch in the canteen.

Selecting an organic, low food miles salad, he found Hilma and Folke from marketing sitting together. Hilma was fond of referring to Folke as her ‘work spouse’, but Felix, like many others, suspected there was more to their special relationship than working together. It was none of his business, though, and he liked Folke, a big easy going man with a friendly laugh.

“Hi, Felix,” said Hilma, sliding her bag under the chair.

“It’s okay if I sit here?”

“Yes, of course,” said Folke. “We always have room for our long lasting friend.”

And there it was, again. The same smirk as the others. Two of them this time. Now he was certain. There was something going on, a joke to which he was not privy. And worse, he had a creeping sensation that it was a joke at his expense.

“To our long lasting friend,” said Hilma, raising her orange juice in a mock toast. “To your success, and may it last longer.”

Something like the feeling he associated with looking over the edge of a great cliff arose in Felix’s stomach. A kind of frozen terror, a realisation that the world was about to drop away from his feet.

He excused himself and went back to his office. He locked the door behind him, tore off his jacket, and held his arm up to the scanner. He waited with a growing sense of dread for the readout to confirm what he by now was sure would scroll onto the screen.

He was right; he had forgotten to mask the chip after leaving work, and his movements for the entire evening had been transmitted to management. With desperation mounting, he looked for the source of everyone’s smirk. When he found it, he put his head in his hands.

“Oh, God,” he moaned. 

Clearly displayed was a twenty-second burst of physical and emotional exertion at eleven o'clock. His problem with premature ejaculation had just gone public. 

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