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Close to Nowhere

Close to Nowhere
by Tom Lichtenberg
copyright 2014 by Tom Lichtenberg
Eugenio Golpez stared at the wide open office around him and wondered what the fuck he was doing
there. From where he stood he could see at least fifty other people who had showed up for work and
were doing god knows what. They had computers on their tables and cellphones on their tables and
some of them were staring at those and some of them were staring at the phones they held in their
hands. Half were talking and the rest were maybe listening. Eugenio was one of the maybe-listeners.
"Alex", his boss repeated, zooming in even closer. She'd been standing behind him, murmuring barely
above the chatter. How was Eugenio supposed to hear her? He heard her now, though, and turned
towards her.
He was nervous. He didn't like it when she snuck up on him like that and she was always sneaking up
on him like that. And so damn small. She was something like four foot nothing even in heels and he
was a regular sized guy, five ten, or eleven when trying to impress someone. It was like taking orders
from a mosquito. He looked down at her and tried to smile but it just didn't happen.
"You didn't book that call," she reminded him. He knew he didn't book it. He barely even knew what
"booking it" meant. He had never heard the expression before. Everywhere else he worked they called
it "entering". What the fuck was booking?
"Please," Gabby said. "Please can you book that call now?"
"Yes," he said and turned back to his computer screen, where he'd just finished dealing with the damn
call, what was it? Two minutes ago? What's the fucking rush?
Gabby, whose real name was Chien, crept back to her own seat down the row two chairs away from
He clicked the 'Submit' button and there. Happy now? The call is booked, so fuck it.
Eugenio did not like this job very much. He'd done phone work before, and hated it just as much then
as now. His last job had been a lot better, but then the flood waters receded, the crisis ended and they
didn't need him anymore. He found himself wishing the mucky mess had gone on, even if it meant a lot
of suffering for a lot of other people. So what if their homes were literally under water? He was having
a good time, dispatching rescue workers up and down the coast. He wasn't surprised when they let him
go, even though they'd liked him at there, and his reviews were stellar, and the seas were still rising so
there were bound to be more opportunities eventually, but with budget cuts and time constraints, luck
just wasn't on his side.
Every cloud has a silver lining, they say. Even this stupid place. “Eco None”, whatever that meant.
Their slogan was something about "personal carbon footprint curation", but as far as he could tell they
were basically nothing but parasites. Talk about your growth industry. Nobody did jack shit about the
climate change until it affected their taxes. Now there was the penalty if you didn't do your offset, so
along came sucker-suckers like Eco None to provide their so-called services which were basically
doing the shit people didn't want to do themselves just so they wouldn't have to pay the stupid penalty.
They'd come and do your recycling or soak up some cow farts, or plant a fucking tree in your name and
you'd get the receipt and there, you did your part for saving the planet and making the world a better
place. To Eugenio, it was just another fucking call center, and he was only a peon.