Signs of life

Parent Brain Storytime : Checking for signs of life

His job was to check for signs of life, to merely observe the office space for anything that could signify a sign of life. There didn’t even need to be a person at the desk to constitute a sign of life.

Signs such as coats, bottles, food – anything that signified life – that all counted.

What has this great company come to?

Where once there was fun and laughter, now there is someone checking for life.

Believe it or not, this was a job. And it was the job that Leroy was paid to do.

For the first month he enjoyed it. He wandered the vast complex of corporate HQ, looking for signs of life. If he saw a sign of life he’d place a tick in the appropriate box on the map. If he saw no signs of life he’d place a cross. At the end of every cycle through the office, of which he had to do at least two each day, he would scan the maps and they would be electronically filed away. Where? He had no idea.

After two months though, he was starting to wonder whether this really was a job at all. Three months in and he started to fudge the numbers. He spent longer hiding from the security cameras than he did looking for signs of life.

He’d memorised the entire office HQ floorplan and security camera location. He was on autopilot. Some days he’d wake up rejuvenated and full of verve and he’d take his job seriously. Other days he contemplates the meaning of this role.

He didn’t even know why he was doing this. Nobody had explained what this activity was for. But he continued, day after day, looking for signs of life.

A can of coke on a desk, a sign of life.

A coat on a chair, a sign of life.

A laptop on a desk, a sign of life.

A pair of glasses on a desk, a sign of life.

As he wandered the HQ people would stop him and ask what he was doing. This inevitably led to the question of why he was doing this? He didn’t have a solid answer.

After a month of saying “just because”, he would make up stories to amuse himself. They became more outlandish as the months went past. He told stories of anti-corruption, office close downs and redundancies. He spoke of government surveillance and anti-protest planning. He talked of alien invasions and Cold War prepping. He led people to believe they were removing all the desks in a forthcoming experiment. He even said they were planning for a forthcoming visit from the Queen.

He had a lot of fun. That was until his wild stories lead to mass rumours and panic. And Leroy was called into his supervisor’s office. He was read the riot act. He promised not to do it again. So, he went back to taking this role seriously. He went back to checking for signs of life.

But soon he fell back his old ways. Tired of explaining that he didn’t know why he was doing it, he soon reverted to the story telling.

Only this time, his supervisor didn’t give him another chance. That was it for Leroy. Back to the job market. The rumours had become too much for his supervisors.

The following week Sonja started looking for signs of life. Leroy secured a job as an office manager for a company where there was already plenty of life.

Parent Brain Pocket Reminder:

Avoid gossip at work. Avoid starting rumours. Avoid saying something you will regret or have to say “sorry” for. These things have a way of coming back on you.

If you’re a manager – explain to people what their work is for and what it leads to – and why they are doing it. If you don’t know, why are they doing it?

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