Friday, September 15, 2006

The odyssey of the donut

Just before 9 am, you walk out of the copy room where the assistants punch their time cards and make your way through the marketing wing on the way to the (superior) editorial offices. Just before you round the corner out of marketing, you spot them--two boxes of donuts, mostly full, with the tops gaping open in a grand gesture of welcome to a complimentary breakfast. The infamous marketing donuts. They look good, and they're so rare, and it's still early and you--you marketing imposter who actually works in editorial--you could feasibly swipe one without the guilt that always accompanies the purloining of the last bit of free food that isn't for you. You could have a donut and still leave enough for everyone else in marketing, minus maybe one unfortunate late-comer.

But what are you doing? You can't stand there salivating over the marketing donuts like this! Someone will see you! Should you take one now and risk being seen by the catalogue editor whose office gives him a prime angle from which to guard the marketing donuts, or should you go to your cubicle and hatch a more sophisticated plan? You've dawdled too long, to take one now would betray deliberate criminal intent. You slink off to the editorial offices.

Safely ensconced in your cubicle, you try to organize your tasks for the day but can think only donutdonutdonut, muststealdonut. You take several reconaissance trips back through the marketing wing, distributing leftover transmittals, looking for offices, whatever appears to bestow serious purpose upon your donut-driven journeys. Ok, well suppose you steal a donut. Then what? A donut is a bulky and noticeable baked good. Where will you eat it without raising suspicion that you, an editorial assistant, an agent for the enemy, have thieved and are illictly consuming a rightful marketing property? Where will you hide from marketing's long pincers of disapproval? You return from each mission empty-handed.

There is a note from one of your bosses asking you to enter contract information into the database. You'll need to go to the contract vault to retrive it. The contract vault! It's locked, and only three people have the key--the contracts and permissions editor, his assistant, and you, when you take the public key. The contract vault is the only place more respectable than a bathroom stall offering a modicum of privacy in the office. You, donut, contract vault--it will suffice. So clever you are, Miss Cleverpants.

You begin your journey to the contract vault via a detour through marketing. There they are! Still well-stocked, still wide open for the snatch. A small crowd is huddled nearby but disperses just as you're about to reach the treasure. Left, right--no one around. Glance at the catalog editor's well-positioned sentry office--empty. Now! Now! Swiftly, subtlely, with one fluid motion. No time to choose the most appealing variety, just dart by so smoothly that anyone watching (no one must be watching!) might think that the taking was unintentional--a stray donut that happened to get caught on your fingers--how lucky.

You have it! You possess the contraband baked good on your person as you veer out of marketing and back into the other side of editorial. Toward the vault, toward the vault, post-haste. Look productive, look determined, look not like you have just stolen a donut from marketing and are fleeing the scene before any of their goons notice. It occurs to you that everyone can see you carrying the donut. How to protect the donut in transport? The note with the contracts, your original source of inspiration, is about as big as a donut. Held correctly, the note can cover the donut. The donut is out of sight! You walk past the receptionist and say, This is a note for a very important assignment I am holding, not a stolen donut. Do you think I have stolen a donut, receptionist? Not I. I have not stolen a donut. I just happen to have an awkward way of holding notes. It is congenital.

Now past the director's secretary, past the foreign rights people, over to the contracts assistants where the sacred vault key hangs by a shining thread. This is the editorial department, not enemy territory. No one will know that the donut is an undocumented alien. But why take unecessary risks? You double back quickly to the vault. But the key requires two hands and one of yours is occupied protecting the precious loot. Desperation! Is anyone watching you fumble with the lock? The vault is in a corner of the office, out of sight for now. You shove the donut in your mouth for temporary storage as you unlock the door with both hands and slip inside and hear the door lock behind you with a satisfying click.

You are home free. It's just you and your donut, which you discover is chocolate--not the best kind, but not bad considering the effort. You settle in by the filing cabinets and eat quickly. It has been a successful morning.