As promised, here is Part 2 of Owned…
If you’re interested in Part 1 here’s the link
Part 2 of Owned:
There were no noticeable strange happenings at work when I arrived. Then again, I wasn’t looking either. Thrown off a little with having to be there in the flesh rather than pant-less via the Web. Otherwise, things just went along. My company desktop recognized me immediately in all its over-sized, under-performing glory, though I barely remembered it. How is it that a multi-billion dollar marketing company that can pay their staff, myself included, enough they are capable of affording slim, fast, new technology but that same company drags its knuckles in the dirt when it comes to cubicle computers? The company building is architecturally impressive yet their desktop computers are older than the marble in the lobby.
I clacked away on what must have been the keyboard to a typewriter. Stupid technology. Meetings went on as scheduled. There were too many ‘glad to see you’ and ‘wow, who died’ comments making light of my forced pants-laden outing. Somehow the room felt less exciting when it wasn’t in 3-D through my tablet. Didn’t help I had to pretend I was interested in everyone else’s conversations rather than being the ignored screen on the table. Though, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t dislodge that text from my wife.
Who was it? Did she realize she mis-sent it? Would we still have that awkward conversation I was trying to avoid? Was she just trying to get me to pay attention to her? If so, one of us would have to quit our jobs. It wasn’t going to be me. God, I miss her though.
Back at my desk I took advantage of an inconveniently placed blue-screen of death, damn technology, I tried calming the voice in my head by pulling out my cell to read her text again. Why? I don’t know. Had to do something with my time as this over-sized abacus rebooted. But why? No body knows why they stare at something they can’t get out of their head. Perhaps it’s hope of finding answers, or a mute button for the mind like killing that repeating song in your head by hearing it for real. Maybe we want someone to walk by. Seeing our puppy dog gaze, they’d help us get what we want. Then again, perhaps it’s more masochistic.
Why does a man stare into the window of an unrequited lover’s window? Is he day dreaming, inserting himself into that love’s life? Is he attempting to work up the courage in hopes that placing himself so close his love would see him and his want, his watery eyes, droopy ears, come running out and embrace him in realized love? Having found myself in just such positions in my past, one would assume I were capable of answering such questions. I’m not.
When I peered down where my wife’s text should have been, there at the top of the long list of archived texts, mostly from colleagues, I couldn’t find it. Then Mark tapped my shoulder making some comment about me wearing pants, and shuffled passed waving me on. It was time for his presentation to the board. Cell into pocket, I joined the shuffle.
Mark was an impressive orator. I no longer ogled at him. We’d known each other for years. Decades actually. Childhood buddies. He was always a better speaker than I was but I always had better ideas. A great combination when mixed together properly. We were expert bartenders in that way. I stopped listening to Mark’s marketing presentations some time ago.
No one in our meetings pretended they weren’t texting or checking texts. No, it’s not a courtesy issue. People who say it is are old and out of touch. Texting during important meetings and presentations with a room full of other important people means you have an entire room of important people trying to maximize time usage. Meetings and presentations are like public speaking, actually they are public speaking. But the old adage of 10 percent what you say and 90 percent how you say it is bull. In meetings and presentations it’s closer to 10 percent saying anything important or noteworthy and 90 wanting to hear your own voice. High level individuals who spend much of their time in meetings know this. Don’t believe me? Watch them. They are the ones looking through paperwork not connected to the meeting or doodling or, God forbid texting. They are not ignoring you. They are multitasking where multitasking is appropriate. Their ears and eyes are half listening, half watching.
How does one know important information is being shared while engaged in other conversation? Easy. A good orator will change their tone, if only briefly. This lets everyone, listening and not so deeply engaged, know that what is about to be said is important and should be written down somewhere for future reference. PowerPoint presentations displaying important will gain your attention even if only half paying attention. Changes of colors. Changes of slides. Pie charts. All red flags letting those with keen feelers know not to miss the following information being presented. Mark knows this. That’s what makes Mark a great orator. I manage to notice this information as it’s being presented but I’ve never mastered changing tone or proper PowerPoint slides. I’m like a sports fan like that. I can see impressive capabilities, but God knows I can’t swing at a ball and expect to get anything but air. Ideas I can do. That’s about it.
Which might be why my wife’s text, well, now, missing text, troubled me so. She’s always been attracted to success. That’s how we met. Two successful people. But I know my limitations. For several years now, I’ve managed to convince her I’m everything she wants in a man. I’m afraid she’s finally seen through all that. Now that’s she’s figured me out, I’m on my way out the door. Another man, someone more well rounded and able bodied at full success is probably taking my position at the pole. I’m losing ground as it becomes clear I’m incapable of manifesting anything other than ideas. But who was that text meant for? And what happened to it?
I know I didn’t erase that text. My thumb began flipping through conversation upon conversation. Nothing. Wherever it went, it was no longer in my list of conversations.
Immediately I thought, “All the better. No need to concern myself. A figment of the imagination.” After all, we haven’t spoken in weeks, maybe longer. That’s the trouble with two successful people joined in holy matrimony. No one’s giving their share to the marriage. Success in society, in the bank account matter more than success at home. This must be my heart telling me what my head doesn’t want to hear, what my body doesn’t have time for.
Then that nagging worm crept back into my stomach like a bad bottle of Tequila. That part of me that believed it was a figment of imagination couldn’t sway that part that knew she was off meeting up with some random guy. Talking or not, we’re still married. She’s still cheating. How dare she? I haven’t cheated. I’m too busy for such things.
And who the hell is this other man?
I flicked through my apps opening one that synced my cell with her’s. Being married in a world so technologically advanced has its benefits. Even if those benefits are used in times like these. Her call history should show who this other man was.
Just my name. Over and over. All the way down. That and scatterings of office numbers I was familiar with already.
Impossible, I thought. These call histories are individualized. Only I can delete calls viewable on my cell. His name should be here. And I don’t recall speaking to my wife in person let alone via cell. This list claimed I spoke to her just last night.
Switching to my map app, I saw she was at one of her favorite shopping centers across town. Unassuming enough, right? Zooming in showed a grocery store, a few hair salons, a sandwich shop, and a gym. If she were cheating, she’s probably at the gym, or buying new shoes. Her and her shoes. Typical female, right? Well, that’s where she stopped being typical.
Strong willed, outspoken. She never spoke with that bizarre upward inflection lesser women use where every comment, every statement is presented as a question. If women truly want to close the income gap between themselves and men, stop speaking as if you fear getting backhanded for your own thoughts. Ever hear successful women use upward inflections? No. Ever hear a man use it that wasn’t a self-conscious teen? Nope. That’s your answer. Upward inflection. God, I love her lack of upward inflection.
A sharp sting to my ear.
Mark flicked my ear. Usual for him. Always displaying his prowess. That’s part of his ability to act appropriately in large groups garnering positive outcomes from those around him. It’s also an unfortunate side effect of being a bit of a pompous ass. Damn that hurt.
“Meeting’s over Mr. Attentive.” He knew as much as I did about why people text during meetings, he just enjoys feeling in control. Then again, who doesn’t.
As everyone around ruffled their way out, another text popped up.
“Hey,” another flick to my ear. Damn it, that flicking hurts. “Glad you could join us, physically at least.”
“What? Oh, yeah.” Unwilling to share this awkward situation with Mark just yet, I stuffed my cell back in my pocket. I’d read it later, if it’s still there. “It’s just, my tablet was on the fritz this morning. Just threw my whole day,” I said, hoping to sound at ease. Mark gave me an odd look, almost comforting, or concerned. Then again, I was never good at reading people. I do ideas.
“Bet that really screwed with your whole mojo, bro.”
I was in no mood to retort such comments, concerned or not. “Plus, I’m not feeling too well. Excuse me, will you?”
I gathered myself and left the conference room. Trying to appear sick, but feeling ill, I read the last text: You better be there this time.” Be there? Be where? That was it. This wasn’t my imagination. The text was crystal clear as my cell’s screen resolution.
I picked up my pace to the nearest bathroom stall flipping through my messages one by one looking for this morning’s initial faux pas text. Gone. It was nowhere in my cell. Where the hell could it have gone, I wondered. I didn’t erase it. Did I? Perhaps I did accidentally erased her last text. Flipping back to my most recent text from her, it too had disappeared. Like any self respecting half wit who grew up around technology, I ripped the battery out to reset it. Waiting for what felt like eons, my hands began to shake. Now two devices, the devices I depend upon to work, to get by, were giving up on me.
We can figure out how to integrate a camera, phone, web browser, calorie counter, map, navigation, to do lists, and countless other gadgets into a single, pocket-sized piece of equipment. Still, humans have not mastered the art of a computer that takes less than two minutes to boot up.
Who was this other man? This man that my wife so nonchalantly thrown in my face, twice in the matter of a few hours? If I could just figure out who this other person was I would feel better. I assured myself it could be a co-worker or a long lost friend. I’m a man. By my very nature I get anxious and defensive when my significant other isn’t with me. Right? I’m over reacting. Right? Can’t hurt to just find out who this person is though. Right?
With that I thumbed through my other text conversations hoping to find other missing texts. If these two disappeared, others must have done the same. It could just be my cell crapping out. It is almost six months old. But my efforts were fruitless. Nothing appeared misplaced, but I couldn’t remember one conversation from the other. That’s why I had a cell, to archive my conversations, so I don’t have to rely on my own dysfunctional memory, I can just flip through old ones remembering as I flipped along. Then again, there is the occasional device failure. Catastrophic when it happens. Cloud or no Cloud, there are still things that don’t transfer into broadband ether. These text conversations for example. Then it hit me.
I’ll just wait until tonight when she’s to meet with this man and I’ll know. I’ll catch her in her little act. I’ll find out who she’s seeing. Technology is great that way.
The rest of my day dragged. My desktop kept me at the office well passed the time I wanted to be there. Luckily for me, though, it was synced up to my tablet. Just barely considering the archaic Internet connection in this concrete cube of a building. The tablet might not have let me use it this morning, but as of last night, it synced to the network. All my presentations, reports, were accessible even if I had to stay plugged to this drab cubicle.
As long as I was there, little work was accomplished. I couldn’t get those damn texts out of my head. Over and over they rolled around. Deleted from my cell but in mass reproduction in my brain. They played out like tickers on a nightly newscast. I couldn’t shake them no matter how hard I tried, and I did try.
When time finally came to leave, I did. My wife was on my mind, of course. Or, at least her disappearing infidelity texts were there. Those texts and that other man. I auto started my car, collected my belongings, headed for the door. In the elevator, I realized that, passing Mark’s desk, he wished me luck. I jogged passed him without notice. Nothing registered until my eyes stared back at me in the chrome elevator door.
What an odd comment.
What an odd day.