The call center of Time Travel Inc. is easily the most dull part of the building.
“At least we’ve got a good view,” Mark says, staring out the window. The crowd of protestors holler insults back at him. Mark gives them the finger.
“Don’t do that.”
Mark laughs. “That is a shit reason.” He makes a face out the window.
“Look at that one,” he says.
I sigh. “Which one?”
“That big fat one on the ground.”
I peer out.
“Oh, the one with the sign that says ‘when will my son matter?’”
Mark sighs. “You’re no fun.”
The phone rings. I answer it.
“It isn’t working!” a shrill old voice cries on the other end.
I cringe. “What isn’t working?”
“The machine! It won’t work.”
“Is it plugged in ma’am?” I ask.
There is a pause. Then, “of course it is, you shmuck. I’m old, not retarded.”
“Please, ma’am. My apologies. What is the problem?”
The woman on the other end takes a breath. “I’ve been trying to go back to my grandson’s graduation and it isn’t letting me. It keeps saying ERROR, over and over.”
“Mhm, okay, have you tried to go back to that time and place before?”
“Are you retarded?”
“Well, either you think I’m retarded and can’t read, or you are retarded and can’t listen to words properly.”
“Ma’am, there is no reason for impropriety, I am just asking the usual questions. So, you want to see your son’s graduation?”
“Yes, sorry, and when did this graduation happen?”
The woman on the other end stays silent a moment.
“You think you’re clever, don’t you?” she says.
“You think it was within the past six months and I am just a stupid old lady who doesn’t know the laws? You think I’m an idiot.”
“No—I,” I try to finish. It’s no use.
“No, you shut your mouth. I’ve had this machine for years. I know how it works. I know how to read. And write too, imagine that! And I tell you your machine is malfunctioning and you sit there assuming this poor old lady must not understand time travel. Well you can’t go ahead and let me talk to your manager then.”
“Manager!” she cuts me off.
“Please hold a moment.” I put her on hold and look up at Mark. He is smiling.
“Well, she sounds lovely.”
I take a deep breath and stand up. I walk to Henry’s office. Door is open. I knock on the frame. Henry looks up.
“A woman on the phone. Wants to see her son’s graduation.”
Henry smiles at the look on my face. “One of those?” he says.
“I’ll take care of it.”
“He picks up the phone.”
I walk to the lounge and pour myself a coffee.
“I hate my fucking job,” I whisper to my coffee. I take a seat and sip away, wondering where everything went wrong. A minute later Henry walks in.
“Ah, there you are.”
He sits down.
“So?” I ask.
“She’d been there before. Three months ago. Had to send her the travel record,” he smiles. He looks at my coffee.
“Telling your coffee you hate your fucking job again?” He raises an eyebrow.
I shift uncomfortably in my chair.
He laughs, “there are cameras everywhere.”
He holds up a hand. He leans forward. He looks right at my coffee.
“I hate my fucking job,” he tells it.