We thanked each other. It was customary after every exchange. Our thanks were never disingenuous or ironic. We said thanks for getting this done so quickly, thanks for putting in so much effort. We had a meeting and when a meeting was over, we said thank you to the meeting makers for having made the meeting. Very rarely did we say anything negative or derogatory about meetings. We all knew there was a good deal of pointlessness to nearly all the meetings and in fact one meeting out of every three or four was nearly perfectly without gain or purpose but many meetings revealed the one thing that was necessary and so we attended them and afterward we thanked each other.
She had a greeting for everyone. It might not sound like much to have a greeting for everyone, but in an office as big as ours, we saw people every day whose faces we knew better than our own mothers’, yet we’d never been introduced to them. Maybe we’d sat together in a meeting or seen them at an all-agency function, but because we’d never been introduced, we averted our eyes as we passed them down the hall.
The last thing we wanted was to expire between cubicle partitions or in the doorways of the offices where we spent our days. Hank Neary had a quote and we told him politely to shove the quote up his ass. “When death comes, let it find me at my work.” He said he couldn’t remember if it was Ovid or Horace who said that and we replied we could give a good goddamn what Ovid the Horse said. Ovid the Horse got it wrong about death and work. We wanted to die on a boat. We wanted to die on an island, or in a log cabin on a mountainside, or on a ten-acre farm with an open window and a gentle breeze.