Friday, June 18, 2010

Jacob Bartelby, Temporary Fileclerk To The Stars

I’ve been working for Roger Waters for over a year now. Guy should really just hire me. I can’t complain; this high end temping pays pretty well. Mostly I man the phones in the office and watch the fax machine (yes, a fax!) and open the mail. Around noon on  random days Mr. Waters will come in, take his desk and make a few phone calls.

“No Jason, I don’t care what David thinks. We shall NOT be selling ‘Comfortably Numb’ to the good people at Ambesol. No!”

He’ll send me out to get lunch, and we’ll sit in silence, interrupted by the occasional phone call. He’ll have me make a copy of some letter and fax and I’ll file it, using a haphazard non-system that lurched from alphabetical to chronological to categorical. It’s a mess, but it keeps me employed. He generates a lot of paperwork for a rock star. I’ll clear out the file drawer every other week, pop together a banker’s box (I have to admit to a small ecstasy whenever those flat cardboard boxes snapped into place, a feat of industrial origami.), then shove it in the filing closet.

“The closet’s getting pretty full, Mr. Waters.”

“Hmm…okay. Set all the boxes from 1996 and 1997--no in fact let’s take the rest of that wretched decade--out here by my desk We’ll have Nick take it out to storage on Monday.

Poor Nick Mason. Since his estrangement from David Gilmour he’s run himself financially into the ground, so now he’s come crawling back to Mr. Waters, and reduced to running odd jobs to keep him in Mr. Water’s largesse. Of course, Mr. Waters still scorns him for the whole David Gilmour Floyd period, but having the old drummer in his employ counts as points against Gilmour.

So I start hauling these cubes of paperwork out to the desk and start stacking them. Mr. Waters stares out into space as he is want to do, but then he notices the stack that’s piling up.

“No. Don’t stack them like that.” I’m stacking them in a row, one box atop another. What else am I supposed to do? “Do a stretcher bond,” he says.


“Span them!”


“Lay them across the gap.”

I slide my box on the second row over, until it’s halfway across the next box. Mr. Waters smiles, slightly. “There. Now do the rest that way.”

I get back to it. Four across, three across them, two atop that. I start a new row. Mr. Waters pounds the top of his desk.

“No! Make it go higher.”

“But it’ll…”

“Build it higher!”

So I keep stacking them, spanning the boxes, until it’s four boxes high, then five. Now, with the boxes wobbling, I start a sixth row. Mr. Waters is hidden behind the boxes as he sits at his desk. It’s very clear what I’m building now. I poke my head over and see his eyes are gleaming.

“Yes, Mr. Bartelby. Build it! Build it!”

And so I spend my days with Mr. Waters.

--Dan Kilian

My Obama Encounter By Jacob Bartelby, Intern to the Department of Health Bureaucracy Department Building 15

Adventures in Filing

1 comment:

  1. [...] Jacob Bartelby, Temporary Fileclerk To The Stars [...]