Right Answer

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“If your life was turned into a musical, what genre of music would it be and why?” asked Gloria, the Director of Diversity and Social Engagement.

Thomas shifted uncomfortably in his seat in the conference room. He dreaded these sorts of questions. Even worse, he hated musicals.

“Who wants to share first?” asked Gloria.

From the closest chair, Olivia raised her hand.

“Yes,” encouraged Gloria.

“I’d choose the music of Taylor Swift,” said Olivia with a giggle. “Her songs really speak to me.”

In the next chair, Heather tapped Olivia’s shoulder. “I feel the same way about Adele.”

The two smiled at each other under Gloria’s smiling approval.

“Very good. Who wants to go next?” asked Gloria.

“I want the Beatles to be my soundtrack,” said Fred.

“Excellent,” replied Gloria.

Thomas knew Fred would get extra brownie points for being the first guy to share.

“What about you…” said Gloria, scanning the room, “Thomas.”

Thomas froze. He said the first thing that popped into his head.

“Weird Al.”

A giggle was heard.

“Who?”

“Weird Al Yankovic,” replied Thomas. He said it, so he might as well own it.

“That’s not a musical genre,” said Olivia.

“It’s barely even music,” added Heather.

“Hold on,” said Gloria. “Thomas, why did you choose him?”

Thomas frowned. “Who said my life couldn’t be a comedy?”

A silence fell over the room. Gloria thought for a second, then laughed. “I’ve never heard that before. Very clever, Thomas.”

The room erupted with a combination of congratulations and complaint. Behind him someone spoke up. “Then I want to be a video game. I pick the Skyrim soundtrack.”

Thomas sat back and relaxed with a smile on his face.

 

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Doug’s Birthday

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“Happy birthday, Doug!” sang Samantha.

“It’s your birthday?” asked Roger.

Doug blushed. “Yep.”

“Any plans for the big day?” asked Samantha.

“Nah, not really,” said Doug.

“How old are you?” asked Roger.

“Roger! You can’t ask him that,” scolded Samantha.

“Why not?”

“It’s rude. You don’t know if he’s self-conscious about his age,” explained Samantha.

“Then why make a big deal that it’s his birthday?” asked Roger.

“It’s no big deal. I’m 45,” said Doug.

“Half way to ninety,” said Roger.

“Stop!” said Samantha.

“What?” demanded Roger.

“You’re making him feel bad,” said Samantha.

“He’s really not,” said Doug.

“Of course he is,” said Samantha.

“At least I haven’t mentioned that he didn’t die in the past year. That’s the real thing we’re celebrating here, isn’t it? Could you imagine dying choking on vitamins? How ironic would that be?” asked Roger.

“You’re random and weird,” scoffed Samantha.

“I’m just stating the obvious. Doug survived another trip around the sun,” said Roger.

“I hadn’t thought of it that way before,” said Doug.

“Roger, you need to go away now,” said Samantha.

“Don’t act like I’m being obtuse. I’m shockingly realistic,” said Roger.

“You’re impossible!” said Samantha.

As the two were arguing, Doug put on his headphones and started working.

Roger noticed this immediately. “Hey! It’s your birthday. What are you even doing here? You should be celebrating.”

“What do you mean?” asked Doug.

“You should be doing what you really want to do,” said Roger.

“I like my job,” confessed Doug.

“See? You have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Samantha.

“I don’t know why I hang around with you people,” said Roger.

“I really wish you didn’t,” said Samantha.

Roger scowled. “You’re cold.”

Doug mumbled to himself. “I wish I worked from home.”

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Black Vans

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“And while I’m thinking about it,” said Shepard. He and Blake were still standing in the middle of the parking lot. “How does it make sense that the government promises to help the middle class, but turns around and punishes them when they’re successful? I mean, if you help someone, you have to expect their lives to improve, right?”

“Man, you’re fired up today,” noted Blake.

“I swear they’re doing it just to keep people at a certain level, ya know? Not too poor, but not rich enough to ever have any real power. It’s evil.”

“Careful, you’re turning into a little ball of hate,” warned Blake.

“Now that I think about it, it’s the politicians who’re doin’ this, like our trust-fund, rich-kid brat of a leader. They’re doin’ this on purpose. It all makes sense now,” said Shepard.

“Seriously. Black vans are coming for you. I’m not joking,” said Blake.

Shepard’s eyes grew wide. “It’s a perfect tyranny. Give people the illusion of success to keep them docile. Wow.”

Blake shook his head in disappointment as a blacked out SUV squealed around the corner. Men in black suits jumped out, injected Shepard with a needle and threw him in the back seat.

Once the SUV was gone from sight, Blake pulled out his cell phone. “Who’s my next assignment?” he asked.

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Cable Defiance

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“Hey Shep. Shepard!” cried Blake.

Shepard stopped in the parking lot and waited for his colleague.

“Did you watch the game last night?” asked Blake.

“Nope,” replied Shepard. “I canceled my cable.”

“What did ya do that for? You’re not becoming one of those survivalist nuts, are you?” asked Blake.

“Nothing like that. Just getting old and cheap, I guess.”

“What’re you talkin’ about?”

“Cable’s a racket, man,” explained Shepard. “You gotta buy five hundred channels just to get the five you actually want. It’s a total scam.”

“It’s always been like that,” said Blake.

“Yeah, and we’re suckers for fallin’ for it. Can you imagine goin’ to a restaurant, havin’ to buy the whole menu just to get the meal you want?”

“I never thought about it that way before,” confessed Blake.

“That’s because you’re like a sheep, conditioned to follow the corporate pack. No more for me, I tell ya,” declared Shepard.

Blake took a deliberate step back. “I don’t wanna be near you when the black vans come.”

Shepard stood defiantly. “Bring ‘em on. I’d rather die a rebel than live as a consumer pawn.”

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Outnumbered

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Will arrived at the office and was immediately greeted by the fashion police. It was a regular start to his work day.

“You wore that to work?” asked Samantha.

“No. That doesn’t do at all,” added Joyce.

“Will. It’s called manscaping. You really need to try it,” said Andrea.

“It used to be called grooming,” noted Joyce.

“It doesn’t matter what you call it. He needs some desperately,” said Samantha.

Will sighed and set his satchel down by his desk. “Why does this have to be a daily occurrence?”

Joyce shrugged. “Because you never learn.”

“It’s none of your business,” said Will.

Samantha laughed. “Of course it is. We have to look at you every day.”

“I have to look at you every day, but I never say anything to you,” said Will.

“That’s because we’re perfect,” said Andrea.

“Princesses,” said Samantha.

“Goddesses,” said Joyce.

“Well, Ms. Perfect has her eyebrows painted on crooked. Ms. Princess has lipstick on her teeth and Ms. Goddess has grey roots showing,” announced Will.

“How dare you!” shouted Andrea.

“You can’t do that,” said Joyce.

“You misogynist pig!” shrieked Samantha.

“I am not. I’m a feminist,” declared Will.

“Whatever,” spat Joyce.

“Absolutely. I believe in equal rights, equal pay for equal work, and equal opportunity to criticize,” said Will.

The three women exchanged angry glances amounts each other.

“Here’s the thing,” explained Samantha. “That might be be all well and good, but you’re outnumbered three to one. As the minority male, you’re outta luck. What’re you gonna do about that?”

Will examined the united front standing against him and sighed. “I think I’ll try that manscaping you mentioned,” he said.

Andrea smiled. “Good answer.”

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Wifi Wind

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The solace of the study room was shattered by a sudden, agonizing wail.

“I got kicked off wifi again! Why does it always do that?” moaned Randy.

“It’s a little known fact that wifi isn’t a constant signal. Think of it more like an intermittent blowing of wind,” explained Laura.

“What, the wifi stopped blowing?” quipped Randy.

“Exactly,” answered Laura.

“That’s what the government wants to you to think,” interjected Gabe.

“What do you mean by that?” asked Randy.

“Power and control. Everything’s about power and control,” replied Gabe.

“Oh, come on!” chided Laura.

“Really? You think government officials would let their own signals to drop?” asked Gabe.

“The government can’t afford to lose internet connection,” said Laura.

“And we can’t? What makes them more important than us? We could be curing cancer for all they know,” argue Gabe.

“Wait. Why would the government knock us offline arbitrarily like that? What’ve they got to gain?” asked Randy.

“Follow the money,” replied Gabe.

“You don’t know,” said Laura. “You’re just throwing out conspiracy speak.”

“Am I? Think about this. More and more we’re becoming dependent on some ethereal connection to an alternate reality. Who ever controls to on/off switch is Lord of virtual reality,” explained Gabe.

“That kinda makes sense when you think about it,” said Randy.

“Gabe, you’re a scary little man,” said Laura. “My dad works for the government. There’s no conspiracy to control the internet.”

Gabe rolled his eyes. “Let me ask you this. Is our activity online being monitored? Yes or no?”

Laura fidgeted. “Yes, but…”

“Yes,” interrupted Gabe. “The answer is yes.”

“What do you expect? There are a lot of crazies online.”

“It should be the ultimate libertarian platform, but big government got it’s tentacles into it,” said Gabe.

“The government’s not all bad, you know,” replied Laura.

“So you admit it. I said it before and I’ll say it again. Power and control,” declared Gabe.

Randy packed up his computer as the discussion dragged on.

“Where are you going?” asked Laura.

“I’m going home. My wireless router works there. I guess it blows wifi better than the library.”

Laura looked over at Gabe as Randy walked away.

“I didn’t mean that literally,” said Laura.

Gabe chuckled. “Some people are too weird.”

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A September Holiday

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Weaving their way through Stufmart, Judy’s texting distracted her from her immediate surroundings. Bobby’s voice pierced through the diversions.

“I love Christmas,” he said.

“What’re you talking about? It’s September,” she asked. When she looked up, she found herself transported into a holiday spectacle. They were in the middle of a display of Christmas trees, all decorated with the maximum possible number of lights and ornaments.

“What is happening?” she whispered.

“You know summer’s over when stores break out the Christmas stuff,” said Bobby.

“This is so wrong.”

“It seems to get earlier every year, eh?” noted Bobby.

Judy walked silently among the aisles of festive accoutrements. “It’s like I entered a time warp.”

“It’s not that weird. I saw my first Christmas commercial in August.”

Judy looked at Bobby as though he’d spoken some unknown language.

“What? You don’t like Christmas?” asked Bobby.

“I love it, but in December. Not all year long,” replied Judy.

Bobby shrugged. “Where money can be made, people will follow.”

“Is everything for sale?” Judy bemoaned.

Bobby put a consoling hand on Judy’s shoulder. “Only when it’s lucrative.”

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