7/29/14

Office with an Ocean View
By Eric Suhem


“I want to welcome everyone to the grand opening of our new corporate headquarters! We will make this company a top manufacturer of aquarium equipment!” said the CEO, Ben Aqua. There was a smattering of applause from the group of employees as the steel tower loomed above, casting a shadow over the oceanfront vicinity. AquaCo corporate headquarters was built near the ocean to afford majestic views for executives in select offices, despite a history of periodic tsunamis and flooding in the area.

Nobody was clapping louder than Debbie, who worked on the aquarium water pump assembly line. Due to her relentlessly cheery attitude and cutthroat maneuvering, Debbie would soon move up the ladder at AquaCo, to the position of Administrative Assistant for the Manager of Aquarium Gravel. “If we all work hard, then maybe we too can have an office with an ocean view, just like Ben Aqua!” said Debbie to some of her co-workers, who rolled their eyes, considering Debbie to be ‘just another piranha in the tank’.

A few days later, the energy of the nearby ocean could be heard outside the steel tower as the Manager of Aquarium Gravel gave the status report to upper management. Upon finishing, he was elbowed in the ribs by his administrative assistant. “Tell them, tell them!” urged Debbie, brimming with excitement, clutching her manager’s arm as a goldfish looked at them forlornly from its bowl.

“Ahem…” he said, “Well…with the help of my administrative assistant Debbie, we have come up with a bold new initiative to merge the Aquarium Gravel and Miniature Replica Castle divisions.” There was a gasp in the room, not in response to the manager’s proposal, but rather to the water that was rushing through the conference room doors. The ocean had risen, and was starting to flood the 1st floor of AquaCo. Debbie was indignant that she and her manager wouldn’t be able to make their presentation, which she felt would have propelled her career forward like a torpedo.

“Not to worry everybody, the water will let up,” said Ben Aqua, gathering his papers amidst the onrushing kelp, and leading everybody upstairs to the 3rd floor. The flooding indeed stopped, but not before leaving the entire 1st level filled with water. “We’ll make the 1st floor into an aquarium, I think that would be appropriate for AquaCo!” declared Ben Aqua in a flash of inspiration, as the ocean sound roared on the hallway speakers. Debbie nodded eagerly in agreement.

After the 1st floor was converted into an aquarium, Debbie often spent her lunch breaks staring through the glass windows at the swirling blue water and green seaweed. Late at night, she put on scuba gear and got into the 1st floor aquarium, enjoying the immersion. She thought back to her childhood when she’d poured household cleaning solvents into her father’s aquarium, killing his prized tetra fishes. “Debbie, don’t you ever go near my aquarium again!” he’d screamed, his fish-like eyes bulging, “Stay out of my aqua life!” After an unspeakable disaster involving a Koi pond, Debbie’s father would never speak to her again, but AquaCo was like a new family.

Suddenly the water roared in an onslaught independent of any organizational policy. In minutes, the corporate headquarters of AquaCo was washed out to sea, the ocean reclaiming the landscape. Thinking quickly, Debbie found her scuba gear in a utility closet and put it on.

As she swam through the water-filled offices of AquaCo, Debbie looked fondly upon the drowned, bloated body of Ben Aqua in his office. “He was a great man, my ‘work dad’!” she said chirpily from under the scuba mask, displacing him in his undersea ergonomic leather chair.

Debbie finally got that office with an ocean view.


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Eric Suhem lives in California and enjoys the qualities of his vegetable juicer.


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