Category Archives: fiction

Are Bosses Struggling with Their Remote Employees?

Remote work has caused a dramatic shift in how companies operate and their ability to manage their remote workers. We conducted an interview with a boss whose hands-on approach to management isn’t as effective as it once was.

How has working from home changed your team’s environment?

“How has it changed? (sigh) How has it not changed? In the office, I was able to run a tight ship. I would circle the block of cubicles like a shark, letting everyone know that eyes were on them. The ‘big man’, me, was watching what they were doing. Not a single person was on their phone. No one was talking. Just pure work. Without my presence over their shoulder, what’s to stop them from slacking off?”

Without your… let’s say ‘intimidation’ to keep them in line, how has your team’s performance been impacted?

“Well, you can’t really get a good read on performance through numbers and metrics and all that. Sometimes performance can look good just by pure luck.”

And your team’s performance has been having some good luck?

“Well, yeah. But that’s probably due to the leftover discipline from me running a tight ship in the office. What happens when that wears off? Huh? You know how hard it is to be intimidating through a tiny computer screen. I can’t tower over them from 30 miles down the road, sitting at my kitchen table.”

You think the dropoff in your team’s performance is inevitable if they continue to work from home?

“Without a doubt. I would stake my name on it. It’s not just about me cracking the whip either. I also can’t be as motivational through a screen.”

How did you motivate your employees before?

“Just in little ways to show they’re doing a good job. The men of course didn’t need much motivation, they always did a good job. But the women, you’d be surprised how far a little attention can go. You know what I mean? A casual wink or a firm pat on the bottom can brighten their whole day, even more so if I can find something about their appearance to compliment.”

Has that kind of, uh, ‘motivation’ ever resulted in any complaints?

“There have been a few ungrateful people who tried to complain, yeah. But that’s okay, I know how to run my team.”

You say “tried” to complain. You mean they weren’t successful?

“Hah, how can they be? I’m not doing anything wrong. Besides, the “anonymous” complaint email address just goes to my inbox anyway. People think they’re telling on me, but really I just find out who the snitches are.”

I see… As we wrap up here, I have one final question: Is there anything you think your company can do to make workers want to come back to the office?

“Funny you mention it, I just proposed last week that we cut salaries by 25% for people that work from home. That way you have to show up to get your full paycheck. It’s only fair. And that ought to motivate ‘em, huh?”

End of Interview.

Editor’s note: The comments, behavior, and actions of the interviewed boss do not represent this publication’s views or opinions. 

Update: The boss in question has been fired since the publication of this interview. We have reached out for further comment and he responded with a lengthy rant against certain demographics. The rant will not be featured in our publication as we feel it does not belong in print.

Good News, Bad News

“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” the doctor asked in a playful tone.

“Look, I’m really not in the mood for games. Please just tell me if I’m going to live or not.” said Daniel, eyes closed and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Well you know what I’m not in the mood for?” The doctor caught himself before continuing with that train of thought. “Uh, nevermind. Sorry. Look, I prefer to end on a high note, so here’s the bad news: My best guess is that you’ll be dead in a week.”

“Wow… that’s—I. I’m at a loss.” After a few seconds Daniel added, “What do people normally say at a time like this?” He spoke timidly and began to perspire. 

“Nothing terribly interesting or original, I’m afraid.” said the doctor with a little too much candor. “Uh, well, they normally want to make a phone call. Is there… anyone you’d like to call?”

“No. No, I think I’ll just head home. Thanks for everything… I guess.” On the way out, Daniel paused by the door. He had almost forgotten. “Hey, I might as well ask— what was the good news?”

“Oh, that? The good news is that I’ve been wrong about seventy-percent of the time with terminal diagnoses… So odds are you’ll be fine,” the doctor said with a little laugh.

Neither man said much after the doctor was punched unconscious.

My Wife, The Bartender

Our little girl is 6 months old now, so it’s time for my wife to go back to work. To make sure one of us is always home, I work days and she has decided to go back to working nights as a bartender. Part time starting off, until she gets back into the groove.

Like most people, she was nervous going back to work after such a long break. She wasn’t sure if she would still be able to remember all the complicated drink mixtures or deal with all the tipsy weirdos touching her rear end every night (myself excluded). 

To help ingratiate herself to the friends on the staff, she decided to come up with a hit new drink that would knock everyone’s socks off. She obsessed over it. During the past week she has had me taste a number of concoctions. Some of them were okay, a lot of them weren’t—but the worst was yet to come. 

Earlier this afternoon she had been working on her masterpiece. “Come in here!” she yelled from across the house.

I came in there, hoping I wasn’t in trouble for something I had long forgotten. “Try this,” she said, passing me a suspicious looking mixture.

“What’s in it?” I ask, giving the red solo cup a little swirl.

“My own special blend. I decided to create a drink that no one else can! I call it” (pause for effect) “the ‘Naughty Mommy.’”

Huh, ‘The Naughty Mommy’ I thought to myself as I brought the cup to my lips. A familiar smell that I couldn’t quite place found its way into my nostrils as I took a big gulp. I swallowed quickly, then immediately regretted it. “What the—” I couldn’t finish my sentence through all the gagging.

“No good?” she said, wincing a little apologetically.

“No! What was in it?” I said, pouring the rest of it down the sink, and then rinsing out every last drop.

“Vodka and breast milk… Get it? The ‘Naughty Mommy?’” She said it with a cute smile that almost made me forgive her.

Yeah… clever.

Unseen Revenge

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. To me, the temperature of the dish matters not, for the ingredients themselves are far more important. The main ingredients in my delicious revenge are undetectability and pettiness. Revenge should be a dish served masquerading as forgiveness and maturity, but filled with malice that can’t be tasted.

To be clear, I am not speaking of vengeance for terrible wrongs that have been endured or suffered through. That is a dark topic I dare not broach. I am talking purely of petty revenge in the wake of a slight offense, which is usually more comical than tragic.

This is a tale of such pettiness:

Growing up with a much older brother who outmatched me in both wit and strength, I could not wage wars of a physical or direct nature. My offenses had to be subtle, indirect… deniable.

After one particularly heated exchange during my eighth year where my brother had spit in my face, I bottled my fury and waited. I waited for inspiration. I waited for an idea that would dissipate my anger without provoking his in return.

The idea came.

After a bit of fuming, it came time for me to wash up for dinner. There by the sink sat a blue and white toothbrush. His toothbrush. Without thinking I quickly grabbed it and scrubbed the inside of the toilet bowl with great vigor—so quickly did it occur that I scarcely knew what I was doing. I then replaced the toothbrush in the holder. My heart thumped, blood pounded rhythmically inside my skull so hard that I became light-headed. Despite the closed door, I had an irrational fear that I’d been seen. 

Several minutes passed before I was breathing normally and was once again calm. And then I smiled. I felt relieved. Not just relieved of my fear because I wasn’t caught, but I was also relieved of my anger because I got back at my brother for spitting in my face. He never knew it had even happened (and still doesn’t to this day), but I knew.

This was a revelation to me: that revenge isn’t about hurting the other person, it’s about feeling better after they have hurt you. I knew I had gotten him back, and that’s all that mattered.

Perhaps, dear reader, if you are a better person than I, then maybe you have found a way to feel better after being wronged that doesn’t involve revenge. As for me and my house, quiet revenge has worked thus far.

Missed Connection

Dear Woman with Braids at the Brighton Chili’s,

I apologize if I made you uncomfortable by sending you a drink. I meant it merely as an icebreaker, although your demeanor appeared more rigidly icy than before. Admittedly, I see how you were shocked to receive an Apple Martini at 1 in the afternoon. In retrospect, such an act may be strange, but there is no reason to be on guard.

Or perhaps your reticence was due to my uniform. It can certainly be odd to see an American soldier in combat fatigues in the middle of the day (in a Chili’s no less). But believe me, I had a very good reason—I’m not allowed to take it off from the hours of 9-5, recruiters aren’t allowed to. And what am I supposed to do, Not go to Chili’s! So, I promise I wasn’t wearing it to get attention or for free appetizers (although I’m fine if I receive them, I would never pass up mozzarella sticks).

Or are you against the military’s current efforts in foreign countries? We’re on the same side then, honestly. You’ll never find someone more opposed to sending soldiers to do anything than me. I like it here in the States. I get thanked for just walking around and smiling at strangers.

Anyway, my dependents get free healthcare—just something to think about. 

Well, I’ve probably said enough. If you read this and want to get in touch, just pick up one of my business cards. You can find one in any small business in the city (never know who might want to join! Not me again though. I’m good.)


SGT Alan Beck, United States Army Recruiting Command

On Call

“What do you mean you have to go to work? I just made popcorn.”

“Simon, I’m really sorry, but this is important. I can’t just blow it off.”

“Oh, fine. And I’m not important? I’ve been looking forward to movie night all week. Huh… apparently I was the only one.”

“I—I can’t do this now. They’re prepping the kid for surgery as we speak and I’m the only surgeon on call. We’ll talk later, okay? Wish me luck!”

“Yeah… good luck. I just hope one of these days I’ll be more important than a kidney transplant on some child you don’t even know.”

* * *

“Hey! I’m here, I’m here!”

“What took you so long? They’re already wheeling Ian into the O.R.”

“I knowww, I’m sorry. It’s Simon, he can be so needy sometimes.”

“I thought you were leaving him?”

“I’m trying. We agreed that this is his last second chance.”

* * *

“Well, Ian, how do you feel?”

“Better now, miss doctor. Thank you for saving my life.”

“Aww! You’re welcome, sweetie. And thank you for getting me out of movie night with Simon.”

“I thought you were dumping that creep!”

“I’m working on it, buddy. Don’t worry about that though, just focus on getting used to that new kidney.”

Job Interview

Interviewer: “Good morning, Jacob. Would you mind starting by telling us a little bit about yourself?”

Interviewee: “Certainly. Good morning, Mr. Aguilar and others participating in the interview process. My name is Jacob Smith. I was born Jacob Rivers in Winslow, Oklahoma to a left-handed prostitute and a heroine addict from the Vietnam era. I grew up poor, but happy. At the age of 14, I was released from the methadone clinic, free from my own addiction. I have a work history that is boring, lengthy, and deeply uninspiring. However, I have been repeatedly told that I show a penchant for soul-crushing repetitive tasks. While I will not ask much of your company while I am here, I take it as a given that you will also not ask much of me. Considering the employees I’ve interacted with so far, yourself included, I do not foresee that being an issue.

My strengths are mostly physical, and my weaknesses are none of your business. My long term goals include working somewhere better than here, and my short term goal is to eat a 5-lbs. bag of M&M’s in a single sitting.”


Look, this thing’s gotten way out of hand. I just like green, okay? I don’t dress head to toe in green and wear curly elf shoes or a green top hat. I don’t even like hats. I have great hair. People say so all the time. And before you ask. No, it’s not red. Some of us have red hair. Some don’t. I don’t—it’s copper.

Another thing. The accents. Stop. No one is trying to “Steal me lucky charms.” What do you think, we’re a merry crew of Irish pirates? Maybe we are what you would call Irish since we live in the country called Ireland, but we were here long before the Celts or those smarmy Brits showed up. 

Speaking of which, that bunch of chimney sweeps to the south is real big on reducing anything and anyone to a stereotype, aren’t they? Fine, yeah, there was one pot of gold that one time. Honestly, it belonged to the whole village and it was a pure coincidence that it just happened to be by a rainbow. Well, not pure coincidence—we like rainbows, okay? Sue us. But don’t actually sue us, they already stole all of our gold and pretty much all of our island, so, uh, yeah. People have gotten enough from us.

What else? Oh… We’re not that short! We’re the height that best suits us—around 5’1 to 5’3 ½ , does that sound short to you?


Leprechauns everywhere

Youth Pastor

“I see you all… You’re looking up at me with my backwards hat, sitting on a backwards chair and you’re thinking: ‘Is this guy really going to be telling me about Jesus?’” said Phil. This was his first day as a youth pastor for the South Lakeland Church, but he had been a youth guide for many years in L.A. before. Certainly, his ample time working with youths would be able to overcome his ever-increasing age gap with them—he was nearly pushing 40. Even so, he still knew how to talk to the teens at their level though, talking about the new hip thing. Phil was ready.

“Well, yes, I will be talking to you a little about Jesus. But Jesus isn’t just some good and caring man from 2,000 years ago.” Phil shook his head, “No, he was much more than that. Some might even call him the first Crypto Bro.” Phil paused here to look around the room, references that teens understand always get their attention. He saw raised eyebrows and curious faces. He had them now.

“Jesus spoke the truth about something of immense value—something people were afraid of because they couldn’t hold it in their hand… They couldn’t understand it. He explained to them about the tremendous ‘return on investment’ when they placed their bets on God. The early investors, a.k.a. his apostles, traveled with him and helped spread the good word. They converted many doubters. And let me tell you—I’m an investor too. And I’m hoping to sell you guys on this no-fail opportunity for limitless growth.” He paused and smiled when he saw slow nods of understanding.

Over the next several minutes, Phil managed to keep this metaphor going longer than anyone would have expected, himself included. Near the end he glanced down at his watch with surprise, better start wrapping things up.

“Even when others renounced their faith because of pressure from the majority, Jesus would be the one who would always ‘HODL.’ He would never sell his faith… And we will never sell ours, Amen?” An enthusiastic chorus of “Amen!” answered Phil back.

He clapped his hands loudly and stood from the chair. “Thank you all for coming this evening, and really think about what kind of investment you want to make. If it were me, I would invest everything I had into this chance of a lifetime. It could be the biggest decision you ever make.”

As the teens were filtering out, he elevated his last announcement to make sure they could hear him, “And make sure you’re here next week for when we talk about Noah’s Ark. You’ll learn what you can achieve when you stay on your grind!” 

After the kids were gone, Phil nodded approvingly to himself, “Still got it.”

A Writer’s Mind

There’s a soft knock on the door. The door creaks open. It’s time for my wife to go to work.

She kisses me on the cheek, “Bye, honey,” she says, “I’ll see you tonight.” I put my arm around her waist and pull her closer, press my lips to hers for a brief second and break away with an intentional smacking sound. “Love you,” I say.

“Love you, too” She says as I turn back to my work. Then after a moment she adds, “What are you working on?”

I notice she has glanced at my computer screen. A betrayal! I quickly click to a different tab on my screen. My jaw clenches in an effort to restrain my tongue. What am I working on? Who is she to ask what I’m working on? How am I supposed to know? Now, I guess I have to stop—in the middle of what I’m working on—and answer these asinine questions. I swear this is intolerable. Finally I calmed down enough to speak. “I’m writing,” I mutter through slightly parted teeth.

“Oh, neat! What about?” She asks it with a bubbly ring in her voice. 

This is ridiculous. I will not be interrogated in my own house! I need something non-committal. I can’t tell her what I’m really writing about, because I’m not even sure. And she’ll think I don’t know what I’m doing if I say that. Okay, got it. “I’m just working on some different stories. You know… the usual.” Nice. That should satisfy her sadistic quest to pump information out of me.

“I’d like to read it,” she says, “I’m sure it’s wonderful with how much you’ve been working on it.”

My teeth clench so hard I feel my heartbeat in my jaw. I exhale quickly and angrily through my nose. Can I afford a divorce? Psh, trying to read something that is a work in progress? I can’t believe her. That should be a crime! “You should really head to work.” I don’t even look up.
She stands still for a moment, palpably angry. She then leaves and shuts the door without another word. How am I supposed to write now? I’m fuming! I wait for the garage door to close, and then go back to bed for my morning nap.