Good Narrative Principles

Obsessing About the Floor


I wonder how much we paid the guy who installed our flooring? Who hired him? Probably Donna, right before or after we fired her — alias laid her off. Makes sense, she was after all the office manager. Maintaining and improving the physical plant used to fall under her purview. She probably hired this nincompoop, drug-addled floor guy in training, alias liar, moments after I called her into my office. The office that features the new flooring. I’m staring at it even as I jot down these notes.

Just look at the corner by the door. Good thing the door is locked because I’m on my hands and knees trying to rub out the stray globs of glue oozing between the seams. If the bank examiner who happens to be shouting my name on the side of the door somehow manages to pick the lock and say he’s feeling self-righteous and therefore opens the door with more enthusiasm than is warranted given the occasion, I’d be clobbered in the old noggin.

Maybe if I had offered Donna a Kleenex or softened the blow by asking the HR guy, what’s his name? I’m seeing the letter A. Alex maybe? No, that’s not right, but for the sake of story momentum let’s call him Alex. Maybe if after Donna had signed the requisite forms including the one releasing us from legal payback — again, I’m sure that legal action has a name. It’s not “liability” but it’s in that neighborhood. Anywho… if after the formalities were completed and I had coughed up a few kind words, maybe she wouldn’t have hired an imbecile to install the flooring.

Tears washed through the rancid layers of coagulating make-up on her prune face. She bolted from my office headed straight out the door. Didn’t even bother to collect the photographs of her three kids with her ex scissored out of the frame or her coat, even though it was January. We haven’t seen hide nor hare of her since. While she was in my office, Alex, not his name, had thoughtfully slipped a few empty cartons into her cubicle so that she could pack up at her leisure — leisure being the end of that week — proving we’re not a heartless bunch.

Her mind was probably buzzing with how she was going to wreck havoc, bring the bank down with her. So maybe hiring the flooring guy was just her point of entry, the beginning of a larger scheme. Maybe it was Donna who called up the FDIC and told them how to decode our quarterly filings to unmask the minor, infinitesimal, ever so slight accounting irregularities that all banks practice be they too big to fail or the S&L varieties that kept Bedford Falls from becoming Hoopersville.

I wish the Examiner would stop his caterwauling on the other side of the door.   A customer might think that a crime of passion is taking place right now inside my office.

I hate fusses. What I like is order. Cleanliness.


I’m just about to unlock the door. It seems that I’ve cleaned up the most egregious globs of glue. I walk the three steps to the door when I feel the soles of my feet adhering to the surface of the floor. Makes me feel like a gecko slithering up the side of an office building staging a get-away. I sit down on the floor and remove the glue residue from the bottom of each shoe. As I stand, I feel the seat of my pants peeling ever so gently from the flooring. I look down and there is a flattened bead of glue coated with the material from my pants.

I feel the seat of my pants. The pesky film of glue now covers my left butt cheek. The voice on the other side of the door sounds louder, angrier. I crank up the audio on my computer and select Metallica radio on Pandora, flooding the room with a defiant sound track. The same sound track they used in Iraq to break the spirit of the defiant terrorists.

The knuckles of the Bank Examiner must be blistering and bright red by now. All that knocking has to take its toll. The sun is slipping away. It does so at this time of year, making it harder to find the globs of glue. Just before I switch on the overhead office lights, red flashing lights from a patrol car sweep across my desk. And for a moment, just for a moment I feel the world slipping off its axis. What if the local press is waiting? And rather than the standard perp walk snapshot — you know me hiding my face behind my cuffed hands— instead they go for the moment when an Officer of the Law lowers my head into the back of the waiting police car, and my left cheek butt darkened with glue is smack dab in the center of the frame.

It will look like I’ve soiled myself.

Maybe I should call my lawyer already? Aah, but first would you look at that. A big fat bead of glue midway between my desk and the door.

Plain as the nose on my face.

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