Are Friends Eclectic

Jez Patterson

"There are days when any electrical appliance in the house, including the vacuum cleaner, seems to offer more entertainment possibilities than the television set."
Harriet Van Horne

I was late, and I was livid.

“Seven o’clock! That’s what I wanted. I needed to be up by seven!”

“I didn’t like to wake you. You were sleeping.”

My sigh slid up the scales into a scream: “But you’re an alarm clock!”

It was my own fault: fiddling with the empathy settings, even buying devices with more sensitive capabilities. In lieu of having children, I should have got a dog, but allergies meant I’d have needed one of those hairless Mexican things. Xoloitzcuitli. No, really. Like if H.P. Lovecraft wanted something to fetch his slippers.

“Time?” I asked my watch.

“For you? Always…”

“What time is it?” I tried.

“Time you took a holiday. You’re looking tired. Are you sleeping well?”

Sleeping, thanks to my doting alarm clock, was one thing I was guaranteed. A new job, however…

As the taxi dropped me off outside RICARDO INVESTMENTS AND CAPITAL HOLDINGS, I decided it was a conspiracy between my appliances. They didn’t want me to get the job because it meant I would be at home less, spend less time with them. I wished I’d left my watch at home now to prevent it bursting into tears during the interview or making some other scene. Fortunately, in the lobby of RICH, there were lockers and so I deposited my watch—

“How long will you be gone? I’ll be counting every second we’re apart.”

--my phone—

“Leave the door open a crack, I can’t breathe! Gasp, gasp, I’m suffocating!”

--and personal stereo. It was the worst of the bunch for making a scene and so I said:

“What’s that song? The one that goes ‘da-da-darrr-darr, da-darr-darr’?” “Damn, now I’ll never get that out of my head…” it said, stuck on a repeating loop for a jingle I’d just then invented.

I took the lift up to BUSINESS CLIENTS, feeling suddenly very alone in the world. Odd, since I shared the lift with seven other people, all of them talking - not on their phones - but to them. I guess it was a step up, on some level—but riding in the lift might have been affecting my choice of both metaphor and my optimism concerning human desire for interaction.

“Sorry, I’m late,” I told the receptionist. “My name’s Keisha—”

The receptionist raised a hand, cutting me off. “That’s quite okay, Ms. Filsham. We got your call.”


Running late due to saving kitten from burning house,” he read off and beamed at me. I saw the cat paraphernalia around his desk then, the framed photo of him wrestling with a giant Persian. Not a rug, but it could have been.

“Oh,” I said, feeling guilty about the locker now that I realised my phone had called ahead on my behalf.

“Take a seat. Ms. Ipno will be with you shortly.”

I sat and a TV asked me if I wanted to see something amazing, a coffee machine asked me if I wanted a drink, even the seat asked me if my buttocks needed a massage. It felt like I was on the date-from-hell.

“Ms. Filsham? You can go through,” the receptionist said, still regarding me with unabashed admiration.

Ms. Ipno was one of those women who wore her ‘Ms’ well. I knew it wasn’t correct, but I’d always felt awkward when people referred to me as ‘Ms’ simply because it seemed to entail a maturity I didn’t yet possess. I felt I was still Miss-ing something, if you get what I mean.

‘‘Mrs.’ is short for ‘Misses the time they were single’,’ my freezer would assure me in an attempt to cheer me up whenever I went rooting around for ice cream at two in the morning whilst lamenting I hadn’t yet found Mister Right.

“Well, your CV says you have all the right qualifications,” Ms. Ipno said and I froze there for a moment with the insane worry that I’d somehow forgotten buying an empathetic résumé--before I realised what she meant. She laced her fingers, leaned over them. “But what makes you think you have the credentials to work for RICH?”

I looked around for cat ornaments, pictures, but there were none. In fact, I imagined a sign on her wall saying ‘I EAT CATS FOR BREAKFAST!’, Tony the Tiger cowering in his box whilst Schrödinger cackled and banged his favourite spoon on his cereal bowl.

Her face suddenly broke its cold outer layer to reveal a shinier, friendlier mantle.

“I’m joking, of course!” She turned and tapped the screen beside her. “We received sterling references.”

“You did?” I said.

“Oh, yes. Her only failing is she doesn’t know when to stop,” Ms. Ipno read out.

My exercise bike. I recognised the heightened concern.

Consistent, reliable, creates a great atmosphere.

My dehumidifier. I tried not to roll my eyes.

Warm, fresh, never lets things grow cold before she dives in.

My toaster. I cringed so low I was nearly absorbed by the chair.

“And there’re many more, all of them complimentary. I’m impressed. Your clients were obviously extremely pleased with your work and I’m delighted to offer you a position.”

“Oh,” I said, stunned by how today was turning out.

“There is one problem, however…”

Everything you’ve just heard was written by my appliances?

“RICH is downsizing. Physically, I mean--not businesswise. Coming to work for us doesn’t mean coming to work. You’d have to work from home. Is that a problem? Some people find it an intensely lonely, demoralising experience…”

I smiled. “That would be perfect,” I said.

©Jez Patterson 2018 All Rights Reserved

Date and time of last update 11:09 Wed 14 Feb 2018
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