Out of the Fishbowl

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Published on: April 11, 2011

Okay, hold on tight and get ready for this one. I actually saw Mr. Clean outside of the law firm. Yes, I speak of the first year associate who I believe beyond the shadow of a doubt plugs himself in to recharge every evening upon returning to his “domacile.” I SAW HIM outside of his natural habitat! Outside of his comfortable and warm womb and out in the cold and unknown world!

Today, I was called into the office (as I think is becoming the norm) for a fun-filled Sunday of completng near-impossible-to-complete-in-the-time-given rush jobs.  As I walk up to the office building, I realize I didn’t get my caffeine fix before leaving. Like every other establishment in the civilized world, our building is less than fifty steps to a Starbucks. I treated myself (like how I said “treated myself” to coffee?), getting a triple grande mocha and one of those stale squares of coffee cake that look so much more delicious behind the glass than in their initial bite.  In line — and there is always a line at Starbucks — my mind shifts into gaze mode. I start looking at the peripheral merchandise Starbucks has to offer. I wonder what kind of person is the customer who throws down $25 to purchase a CD of Village Chants from some tribe out somewhere in the Sahara.  I then get interested in how many people come here to sit and work on there computers in pairs. Are they trying to show the world that they are pretending to be screenwriters? Well, since this is DC, maybe policy wonks? God, it is taking this damn barrista forEVER to make a simple mocha. I glance behind me and I notice something familiar. Not necessarily someone familiar, something familiar.

It’s those glasses. Those fucking, horned-rimmed, Barry Goldwater eyeglasses that nobody has worn since 1980.

My focus materializes and I begin putting the pieces together. Horn-Rimmed Glasses, check. Completely inappropriate sporting of prep school looking blazer (a la Max Fischer,) check. Meticulously combed hair, so that there is not one stray strand out of place, check. And body unnaturally stiff while eyes darting around but unable to focus on anything, like a pigeon anticipating a predator attack, check. Now, remember, this is Sunday. Even if he is working, which obviously he is, since he is 46 paces from the front door, no one else is at the office. So why the hell does he look ready and set for work. I’m in jeans, a tee, and my Converses.

So, I decide to turn around and say, “Hi, Mr. Clean.”

Mr. Clean not only did not saying anything but did not even acknowledge me. Now, I understand if you see someone on the street and you wave but don’t say anything, you can prrroooobably let that slide if they don’t reply to you. But to be five feet from someone you work with five days a week is just weird, man. So, I wasn’t about to attempt another let-me-get-your-attention, so I just turned around and waited for my coffee, picked it up, turned and left without looking. I mean, I wasn’t pissed or anything, I just felt I better leave before we made our scared little bird even more skittish.

WTF? Seriously. WTF? Dude has a JD degree from an Ivy League, he’s barred in like 25 states, AND he’s working for The Big Un! The only thing I’ve got on him is two years. There’s no way a normal person would have that low of a social ability.

Oh… Wait. Did I just say normal?

My bad. So, I get into the darkened office, which is a little creepy when you’re the only person there. Think about the hallways in The Shining. So I start getting to work. Two minutes after cool down, my mocha is drained. Five minutes after that, I need more caffeine. So I start walking to the all-powerful Flavian machine, hoping I don’t choose the one creamer cup out of the bowl that turns out to have gone sour. I always choose the sour one. To get to the coffee maker, I must pass Mr. Clean’s office. I suddenly imagine his confidence restored from the mighty aura of the law firm. He would call me into his office and give me a good thrashing. Yes… Mr. Clean would certainly go with a thrashing.

As I took a deep breathe, I walked past his office. In the corner of my eye, I noticed no human in the always spotless office. I turned my head and absolutely nothing was there. Sometimes, Mr. Clean will leave the brief he is working on his desk, in a parallel fashion to the desk’s edge. It would also normally be closed with a bookmark.

But, the important piece of knowing Mr. Clean was not in the office was, obviously, that his computer was off. Now, I just saw him not but 15 minutes ago. He was dressed for success and  it was 8:30 in the morning. The only reason I could at the time think of was that he had just pulled an all nighter. That’s why his computer was off. He just left the office and is probably on the way home to hit the hay. But to stop and get coffee? And not look disheveled? No 5 O’Clock shadow? That’s just not natural.

So, after much consideration, I’ve come up with my own conclusions about our Mr. Clean:

  1. He lives nearby, which is just plain weird. K Street is not really thought of as a ‘residential’ area. Most of the employees live far far away. And do not want to cruise around the office for shits and giggles during the weekend. We get that enough 5/7th of our life.
  2. He lives in the office, which is even weirder but more likely. He probably has nothing else to really live for and does not want to disappoint. So, what better way than to always be on call and always be the first one to the office? No wonder I always thought he had halitosis.
  3. He is a robot. He plugs himself in. He was created by the senior partners to be the most efficient legal A.I. known to man. ‘Nuff said.

This will evidently need more investigation…

3 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. Greg says:

    Hahaha… great theories. The coffee shop encounter reminds me of the time we were in the elevator at BBDO and that dude totally ignored us and our question… I think it was about an actor or a movie or something.

    • Space Monkey says:

      Ohhhh yeah, I forgot about that weirdo. The question was about an actor (it was like, Was Tom Cruise in top Gun,) and that dude just stared at us blankly the rest of the ride up.

  2. […] creme brulee and summer harvest. I like those colors.” The last call came surprisingly from Mr. Clean, whom I really had come to believe had been discontinued and dismantled for system parts in […]

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