- By Corey Brown - By Corey Brown

Severed the book

© 2019 Corey Brown

The First Round


“This your call log?”

I nodded.

“For the whole day?”


In this brave new, post-Enron, Sarbanes-Oxley flavored world, I was the subject of a review. Not just any review, it was a Detailed Record Exception Compliance review.


“This is your call log for the entire day?” the DREC auditor said.

I nodded again, feeling like the target of a redundancy inquest. “Is this really necessary?” I said.

The guy gave me a look, something between constipation and puzzlement. “The Corporation requires it,” he said. “The government requires it, self-inflated religious organizations, AARP, even splinter groups of NASA require it….everyone does. It’s a requirement.” The auditor hesitated, reconsidered, and said, “Well, not the National Rifle Association, but all they want to do is shoot things. So they don’t count.”


Speaking of requirements, section forty-nine, paragraph eighteen three thirty-one of the Current Regulations And Processes manual instructs all companies to disclose the on-site presence of consultants, subcontractors and miscreants-at-large. As such, section forty-nine, paragraph eighteen three thirty-one of the CRAP manual requires me to tell you my name is Spinner, Rick Spinner. I am a consultant, a subcontractor and, apparently, an occasional miscreant. I am also a despiser of manuals, requirements and corporate dreck.


Oh, and because of PETA, I am also required inform all animals within earshot of my aforementioned, non-employee, status. But most critters cannot understand English so my disclosure as a consultant and part time scoundrel has little meaning to wildlife. This makes me very sad.


“Tell me about this call.” The auditor said. He was pointing to a sentence on my log page and read out loud.


Customer: My computer isn’t working.

Technician: What’s the model and serial number?

Customer: It’s black. Well, not quite black, maybe more like dark grey.

Technician: Okay, that’s fine. Is the computer running?

Customer: Of course not, would I call you if it was?

Technician: I want you to push the round power button.

Customer: Which round button? I only see the one round button and it’s on the right side.

Technician: (audible sigh) Yes, the round button on the right.

Customer: Hey! It’s working. You know, you could’ve just told me it was off before I called.


The Man from D.R.E.C said, “Do you think this is an example of good customer service?”

“Well, kind of,” I said. “I mean, she pushed the round power button and her computer started working. She was happy.”

“I see.” Drec Man said. “Explain this, please.” And he read another log entry.


Customer: I can't get my floppy disk out of the drive.

Technician: A floppy disk? Sir, none of the computers at this Large Corporation have floppy disk drives. That technology has been replaced by CD ROMs, DVDs and memory drives.

Customer: I know, but it’s really stuck. Can’t you just send someone?

Technician: I’d like to, but no one can fix this problem.

Customer: Wait a minute….the floppy is still on my desk, I’ll just….Hold on….Oh great, now this thing won’t go in at all.

Technician: Sir, would you describe the media you’re trying to insert into the computer.

Customer: Well, it’s flat and square.

Technician: Does it have a handle?

Customer: Uh…yes…a short one, its chrome with a black plastic grip. Does that make a difference?

Technician: (audible sigh) Sir, you can’t use a spatula on your computer.


The auditor stared at me.

“What can I say?” I said, shrugging. “Spatulas don’t work on computers.”

“And you think this solved the problem?”

“No. His problem was stupidity, I can’t solve that.”


The auditor continued to stare, continued to give me a look. So far, he had only one expression and I was on to it. So, I decided to toe the line.

“What else you got?” I said. “Don’t tell me this is it.”

And that single expression changed from a look to the look.


It wasn’t much as far as looks go, but I gave him high marks for effort. This purveyor of sanctioned insanity went from somewhere south of barely intimidating to almost mildly annoying. He continued to stare at me, tapping his finger on the log print out.

In a way, the tapping enhanced his image, hopelessly sodden as it was. I was kind of impressed and although he’d never be a fully realized troublemaker, his grade was improving; this corporate monkey was giving it his all.


I looked where his poorly manicured finger was pounding out an irreconcilable version of Morse code and silently read.


Technician: Click on the 'My Computer' icon on the left side of the screen.

Customer: My left or yours?


Then a few lines down


Customer: I can't log on.

Technician: Are you sure you used the right password?

Customer: Yes, I'm sure. I saw my colleague do it.
Technician: Can you tell me what the password was?

Customer: Of course. It was five asterisks.


I glanced up from the log file, realizing the auditor was no longer tapping his finger. He wasn’t even looking at me much less giving me the look.

“Something wrong?” I said.

He didn’t answer at first then, still without looking at me, he said. “My dad was a plumber. When I was a kid I used to work for him during summer. He wanted me to take over the business.”

Hmm….this was unexpected. I wondered where we were going.

“What happened?” I said.

The guy grinned and spread his arms wide. “I decided to become a corporate monkey instead.”


Uh-oh, now I was worried. Could this guy read minds? Did he know I thought that monkey thing about him? Crud, was he still reading my mind? Should I stop thinking? Was internal monologue considered thought or was it just me speaking without using my vocal cords?


I had to find a way out of this mess. So I said, “Wanna get a beer?”

His smile grew wider. “Yeah, but first I have to file this report.”

I expected him to drag out a company form, probably in triplicate, scribble a few lines about what a lousy tech I am and insist I sign it.

Instead, he closed his laptop, dropped it in the trash can and said, “Report filed. The first round is on me.”


Maybe I could get used to corporate dreck.