Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Enterprise - 38

The ax fell along the lines of seniority for the most part. Jared the IT guy, ingenuous, assiduously business casual, was out on his ass after a tenure of two weeks. Hippie Allison was gone. Newspaper Lisa. My department lost Dave, the assistant graphic artist. He had recently purchased a top-of-the-line Mac PowerBook G4, all sleek aluminum, sinking an entire paycheck and the better part of another, and today he folded the thing back up, gathered up his earbuds and skulked away with a queasy look on his face.

I was among the lucky ones.

The following day Sam drifted in at around noon bearing a large cardboard box which he plonked down on one of the recently vacated polished-steel desks in the middle of the room.

“Everyone gather ‘round, OK? Everyone take a break from what they’re doing for a minute? Please?”

We assembled, bleary-eyed but curious.

“I just want to let everyone here know something, OK? This is the group,” Sam declared, and let his statement hang in the air a moment.

This is the group! You guys are the guys I want to take into battle We’ve come a long way. We still have a long, long way to go. Clearly we have a ways to go,” he continued, smiling broadly. “But this is the group that’s going to get there. I can feel it!”

Some smiled, a bit sheepishly. It was tempting to believe what Sam was saying. A cough or two were heard from among the throng. I stood with my arms crossed, shifting foot-to-foot.

“And I want to mark this occasion with a gift. From me to each of you,” he continued, cutting open the box with a scissors blade. He lifted the flaps and reached in to retrieve two T-shirts off the top, which he then held aloft.

“Everyone gets a shirt!” Sam exclaimed triumphantly.

We gazed at the silkscreened design and text, each of us seeing, reading, trying to understand. There was a picture of our beloved robot, the Product’s avatar, the very same one Bob had drawn for the blastoff site and for all our marketing materials since, our support site, the brochures and the leave-behinds, the novelty stickers, the downloadable wallpaper, the coffee mugs and shot glasses and messenger bags and all the other merchandise that had been produced and distributed to employees and had found its way to their boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers and fathers. In this version he—he always seemed to be a he—bore three stripes of face paint, a feather in his hair, and a rudimentary spear in his hand. He stood on an unmolested, paradisiacal beach, palm trees heavy with coconuts. The text curved below him in a sort of Polynesian tiki-bar font. It read: