A. B. Clarke

Justification notes for late time sheets submitted to a US government contractor

by abclarke

In July, August and September of 2016 I had to fill out a daily timesheet for a US Government contract I was working on. I would fill it out each morning for the prior day.

Because the time sheet was technically late, the system would prompt me to enter a justification in a text box.

Which got me thinking: who’s reading these notes? Most likely nobody, I thought. But what if I’m wrong?

What if instead, at the other end reading these notes sits a yearning romantic, locked in her accountant tower, secretly pining to be wooed into loosening her golden locks through these notes?

I decided to assume that this was the case — it seemed only logical.

So collected below are my daily ‘justification’ notes as I attempted to woo that young lady. Alas (I think my wife is likely relieved) I never got a response.

And yes, these are verbatim the contents of the notes I sent each day. I am curious if anyone at the government contractor ever read them.

Enjoy (hopefully),

 – Art


July 30, 2016: Prepared financial plan for board meeting — Slaved away on spreadsheets to create charts that, frankly, a toddler with a red pen could have drawn. But as I entered each cell, and formatted each plot, I thought only of you. There is beauty in precision.

July 31, 2016 – August 15, 2016: On vacation. Nothing to report.

August 16, 2016: Created slide deck for board meeting. Prepared for prostrating myself at the altar of capitalism as a supplicant. The things I must do to get closer to you.

August 17, 2016: Attended board meeting. Laid body flat before the high priests at the board’s altar, offering slides, go-to-market plans, and engineering prognoses. I intoned the words, but did not feel their meaning. Only when we got to your figures, did I betray any arousal.

August 18, 2016: All you want from me is credit, credit, credit. All I want from you is debit, debit, debit.

August 19, 2016: Each number I enter, each column you total, sums up our love.

August 22, 2016: I send my hours into the void, and the void sends nothing back. But I hold the faith — my love for you shall never be voided.

August 23, 2016: As you see my hours, do you imagine my eyes? As you read my notes, hand cradled on your mouse, do you see my hand caressing my keys as I imagine gazing into your dark pools?

August 24, 2016: I ask only for a signal that you are there, reaching back. A hint, a gaze. Failing that, a request for clarification issued in triplicate.

August 25, 2016: I added an extra 0.001 hours today. Did you laugh, or did you throw your arms up in despair?

August 26, 2016: I think of you laughing and frolicking under sunny rays, not grimacing and hunching under fluorescent glows. Run, get outside now! I’ll find you.

August 30, 2016: I have failed you in missing a day. I am sorry, but while filling the timesheet out got away from me yesterday, it was because each moment I was thinking only of you. Forgive me, my love.

August 31, 2016: Some expect their lovers to mind their Ps and Qs, but I know the way to your heart is through your P and Ls. You hold no secrets from me.

September 1, 2016: I am tempted to fudge my numbers so as you plot your data the pictures make you smile — perhaps a project named ‘Strawberry’ and one named ‘Rhubarb’ so you can make your favorite pie. A secret joke between the two of us. But do not worry my sweet — I know the truth of the numbers is the paramount testament of my love.

September 2, 2016: Each day I write, and get nothing in return. Are you there? Are you reading? Send me a sign — anything — perhaps something as simple as a timesheet where you count the hours you’ve thought of me?

September 6, 2016: I was gone, my love, for the Labor day holiday. But sending these notes to you is anything but a labor.

September 7, 2016: Last night I told someone about our messages, and he asked me what you looked like. I realized I could only picture your hands caressing the spreadsheets and nothing else. But it does not matter, my love. You can be a beauty or not — all that matters is the purity of your figures.

September 8, 2016: Some think your books are static; they are truth. But you and I know differently – the numbers are but paint to the artist. A cleverly placed write-off, and a vice-president is made a hero. A line that points downwards can fell even the greatest CEO. So much power is in your hands – do you feel giddy?

September 9, 2016: I know it’s a drudge reading through all the time sheets, scanning the litany of excuses for tardiness submitted by the masses. I have no excuse for my lateness — I own that. But without my tardiness, I could not send these notes to you, so I deliberately wait. I am the bad-boy of time sheet compliance, and I yearn for you.

September 12, 2016: At the end of each day, my shoulders slumped in sorrow, I crawl into bed saddened. But in the morning, noting the hours for you, a smile returns to my lips.

September 13, 2016: Last night I thought of sadness. Sinking, slumping, sliding into it. Swimming and soaked in suffering. And I thought of Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. For Frankl, “meaning” comes through creativity, through love for another, or through noble suffering. Thank you! Creativity (through these notes), love (through my thoughts of you), and suffering (through your continued lack of response), have given my life meaning.

September 14, 2016: My time spent yesterday left me frozen of all energy. And then I was warmed by thoughts of your beaming smile.

September 15, 2016: Ah, but just a fleeting moment to think of you today. But it makes all time worth living.

September 19, 2016: Do you tell your overseers of my tardiness in submitting these reports? Am I just a red line on a table – one more data point amongst the others. Or do you hide my lateness, knowing it’s wrong, but that it is our secret together?

September 20, 2016: A number goes astray, and I imagine your eyes go closer to the monitor, your fingers slowly twisting your hair (it’s long, yes? Did I guess right?), and your lips twist in concentration. I hope it is not my sheet that draws your ire, but if it is the only way I will get your attention, I wonder if I should tempt it. Perhaps last week claiming I spent two hundred hours weaving baskets?

September 21, 2016: Smile. Sometimes, I find the weight of everything adds up, but smiling lightens everything. And the thought of you smiling makes me smile, which I hope makes you smile. A circular formula, but no error.

September 22, 2016: Lightly type. Gently sum. Lovingly collate. Happily report.

September 23, 2016: What secrets do you know?. When you close the laptop and leave the office, what happens? What makes your heart leap when the LED glows die down? I want to know.

September 27, 2016: Alas my sweet, I think our affair has run its course. Our accounts have been settled.  I shall treasure the time we did not spend together (for if not in the time sheet, it must not have happened), and dream forever of not spending time with you again in the future.

An Incomplete Guide to Girls

by abclarke

Some girls want
to be seen,
to be admired,
to be beautiful.

Some girls want
to see,
to admire,
to be surrounded by beauty.

Some girls want
to be held,
to be cherished,
to be protected from a scary world.

Some girls want
to hold,
to cherish,
to protect others from a scary world.

Some girls want
to be salivated at,
to be devoured,
to be taken by the animals.

Some girls want
to salivate,
to devour,
to take like an animal.

Some girls want
to be respected,
to be loved,
to be a shining example.

Some girls want
to respect,
to love,
to follow the shining example.

Some girls want
to be some girls,
some of the time.

All girls want
to be the girl they want
when they want.

I don’t want your love…

by abclarke

I don’t want your love
To save me,
To hold me,
To quiet my screams.

I don’t want your love
To say it’s all right,
To rescue me,
To lighten my pain.

I want your love
To scream
When I scream.
To feel

The dark in my mind,
The fear in my soul,
The angst in my path,
The regret in my past,
The vice in my chest,
The garrote on my throat,
The fire in my lungs,
The glass in my heart,
The joy in my dance,
The beats in my song,
The yearn in my grasp,
The heat in my thrust.

So when it ends
(And it always ends)
I know your scream
Was my scream.

This is what
I want your love
To do:
Scream with me.

Truth & Lies

by abclarke

Be curious: there is truth in the lies we are told.

Beware: there are lies in the truth we believe.

Happiness

by abclarke

It occurs to me that happiness is like a smoke ring;
As I grasp for it, grab it, and grapple with it, I destroy it.

But when I practice the right actions, and breathe, it follows;
Ethereally dancing, it slowly blends with the world.

And I take the next breath.

On Winning

by abclarke

Pyrrhic victories keep me warm at night,

And surely tomorrow I will find more fuel.

The Feed

by abclarke

Each day one of us would take a bucket of feed down to the meadow to feed the cows.

When we’d approach, they’d be giddy; Bounding; Bouncing; Their udders undulating as they galloped towards us; their lowing and mooing audible for miles to hear.

They’d jostle for position in front of the feed bucket, nudging each other out of the way.

Oh, how happy those cows were to eat the feed from my bucket.

And oh, how happy I was to deliver the feed. For, after the slaughter, my plate would be full with compliant chattel.

I wonder: did the cattle ever consider the cost of consuming the feed freely placed in front of them?

Upon Reflection…

by abclarke

Wait…

Why exactly are we skinning cats?

To that end, why is mankind obsessed with the number of ways to complete that particular task?

Midstream

by abclarke

Trickle.
Trickle.
Trickle.

The water has passed.
The water wets the stone.
The water is coming.

But the birdsong
Has a start
And a finish.

Devastating Encounter!…

by abclarke

In December 2015, my friend Adam’s email account was hacked, and a spammer started using it. The e-mails that follow are my entire exchange with this spammer verbatim except I have disguised the actual e-mail addresses (and made some formatting changes).

I hope you have as much fun reading this as I did engaging with the spammer. And in case you’re wondering, Adam’s girlfriend is not named Marge…


From: adam wooley to me 11/26/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

I hope you get this on time, I and my family made a trip to Manila,Philippines for a Conference Meeting and am having financial difficulties here because our bags were stolen from us with our mobile and personal effects therein. I do not know if you can help me with a short loan, the bad news is that our flight will leave very soon.Let me know if you can be of any help.I promise to refund you once I return back home and I am sorry for any inconveniences caused. Hope to read back from you soon


From: me to adam 12/6/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hi Adam, sorry I just saw this now (e-mail overload). Hope everything is ok? Where are you now?

– Art


From: adam wooley to me 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hi Art, How are you?I have been here since then,apparently my email did not get delivered to my other attached contacts..I am so glad you replied,I am still in the Philippines.If you can help me out please,Western Union is the only way you can wire money to me. All i need is $2,850 USD. You can have it wired to my name via any Western Union outlet I’ll show my passport as ID to pick it up here,I promise to refund it back as soon as i arrive back home. Here’s the info you need:

Name: Adam Wooley
Location:Stl 1 Gf Super 8 Grocery Wareh 1985 Cm Recto Ave,
Country: Manila Philippines

As soon as it has been done, kindly get back to me with the Western Union transfer details.Let me know if you are heading to the Western Union outlet now.

I owe you a Lot


From: me to adam 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

I will get the cash and mail it to you on Friday (I am in Antarctica right now, and will not get to the Falklands until Thursday). Is Marge okay? Is she getting her medication and do you need me to send that?

– Art


From: adam wooley to me 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hi Art,
Friday is a long day away,Yes Marge is fine and she still has her medication here.Western union is the only way you can wire money to us, you can just visit www.westernunion.com/locator to look up for a nearby WU around or you can try and wire it online by visiting www.westernunion.com with your credit card….you will have to choose the country you are sending the money from and the country you are sending it to which is Philippine, remember to be a new user before proceeding it..
Can you do that please?


From: me to adam 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

So glad to hear she has her medication. If the growths come back, stay away from the yellow ooze that comes out. That’s how she got it in the first place. I probably should have mentioned that before you left. Also, while I’m thinking of Marge, can you ask her if she got the copy of Mandel & Douglas’ Principles & Practices of Infectious Diseases, and if so, could she send that to me. I’m almost 100% sure I had the right diagnosis for her, but best to be sure.

I’ll see what I can do about getting some money to you faster than Friday. I have limited e-mail now (satellite coverage now that I’m finally on the boat to the Falkland Islands). It costs me $3 per minute, so I have to type really quickly. Apologies if I misspell anything. By the way, there are now penguins swimming along side the boat — never thought I would see that. Reminds me of Marge’s Nun Halloween costume.

I tried going to westernunion.com and it’s asking for your address (which I have, thank you), and your current weight (which I don’t have). Don’t know why it’s asking for your weight (seems very strange), but can you let me know what you currently weigh? Did you gain any from the food in Manilla? I think you were around 190lbs before you left? Should I still say that?

– Art


From: adam wooley to me 12/11/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Art,
How do you do?Just like you i had limited internet connection and we are still here and i am looking to hear back from you with the details,i am still the same weight and wonder why it has to ask that?Hope to read from you soon….
Adam.


From: me to adam 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Sorry the internet connection is bad where you are. I’ve landed at Stanley in the Falklands Islands. Having a little bit of trouble getting good access, as the place has been invaded by Argentinian tourists (who oddly, are wearing camouflage and keep chanting “Liberar a las islas malvinas” — not sure what that means).

Also, you didn’t tell me if Marge could get me a copy of the book on Infectious diseases? If you have a chance, could you tell me what her temperature is right now (and I’m totally sorry, but yes, like last time, you’re going to have to measure it from her ‘below’, if you know what I mean. The doctors I’m working with are Analogists — those types of Doctors are like furtive junkies, always looking up dark alleys).

Yesterday I gave up on Western Union (I don’t know why they asked for your weight. I tried entering 300 lbs, but it said something about “Obesity fee” and was going to add 20% markup, so I didn’t do that).

I did manage to find a Moneygram in the Phillipines, and I figured since you’ve been there so long some extra cash would matter. I wired $5,000 to them. Unfortunately the only store I could send to was the Moneygram in E Quirino, Clark Freeport, Angeles, 2009 Pampanga, Philippines. I’m hoping you can get up there.

When you pick up the money, you’ll need to use my legal name (Art’s a nickname). Just ask for the wire to you from “Alfred E Newman.”

Please do not take Marge with you on the train up there — while I don’t think she’s contagious, people will not treat her well, and will look at you strangely, if she starts barking again. Then again, I’m hoping with the medication that side effect has abated. Let me know.

Directions from the other location you wanted me to send the cash to are here.

Hope all is well, and let me know when you get the cash. We’re all worried about you back here.


From: adam wooley to me 12/12/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Art,

Thank you for the money.Would be of much help,I am yet to pick it up as i do not have the confirmation details(The 8 digit Pin number on the receipt),please send that to me as soon as you can.

I am awaiting your urgent reply,

Thanks,

Adam.


From: adam wooley to me 12/13/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hello Art,

I am guessing you have not checked your mail…Please send me the confirmation number on the Money Gram receipt to enable me pick the money ASAP.

Awaiting your urgent reply,

Thanks,

Adam.


From: me to adam 12/13/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hey Adam,

I have bad news, but I think if we can work together, we can get through this.

First off, sorry it took me a few days to respond. In an irony to end all ironies, once I finally got the money sent to you, I decided to find a bar in Stanley to have a drink to celebrate your good fortune. One drink quickly became two, and I got to celebrating with the locals. However, on my way out of the tavern, I was, similar to you, accosted by three short men (dressed in what I think were tuxedos, and who were braying like donkeys the entire time). Alas, I can’t be sure though as to their identity, for I was, as I’ve learned they say in the falklands, ‘out to pasture,’ ‘in league with the jolly devil,’ or ‘enough drinks down to fall for a Nigerian prince.’ My assailants took off with my id, credit card, and wallet, and now I’m somewhat stuck in Stanley. Normally I’d ask for your help on this, but given your situation, I think we’re both in the same boat.

I did spend most of yesterday on the streets to the capital here begging folks for help, and was finally taken in by a kind, generous, and phantasmagoric old woman, who took me back to her house. As a slight aside, to demonstrate what a small world we live in, I got to telling her your and Marge’s tale. (Incidentally, you did not let me know what Marge’s current temperature is, and her doctors have e-mailed me several times asking — a response on that would be appreciated.) The old woman told me that her sister suffers from many of the same symptoms — making me think that perhaps lycanthropy may be the cause. It certainly explains the barking and the hair growth and her symptoms’ strange re-emergence every 25 to 30 days. Also, upon reflection, it is entirely possible that the yellow ooze was a red herring given that you, Marge, and I had just won first place in the Indiana Mustard Pond 10k Meter Swimming tournament. If correct, you should see Marge’s symptoms die down, until around December 25th or so, by which time you should be back home in Lake Woebegon.

But I digress. The old woman kindly allow me use of her computer and phone, which is where I’m typing from right now. I did attempt to find the Moneygram 8-digit number you refer to, but I had used a different computer to send the cash, and stupidly didn’t save the reference number. I ended up calling Moneygram, and they directed me to the local office in the Philippines. It took a while for me to get through (my Tagalog is very bad — and the connection was poor), but the woman I talked to, Betty, said no one has been by to collect the cash.But, and this is the unfortunate thing, given that I’ve already sent it (meaning the cash is already there), and I don’t remember my 8-digit number, there are only two ways to collect it.

  • Option 1: You could actually go in person. Betty assured me you should be able to pick up the cash. I told her you didn’t have ID, but we came up with a way for you to get the money. Just ask for her by full name (Betty Crocker), tell her you’re picking up the package from Alfred E Newman, and you know the secret phrase of “my, your buns are gooey and moist.”
  • Option 2: if I pay a 100 peso (Philippine Peso) fee, she can give me the 8-digit number. Alas, the only way I can pay that (moneygram policy I’m afraid) is with a credit card from someone who actually lives in the Philippines.

So that means, there are two ways you can get the cash:

  1. Take the train up to the office, and pick it up directly from Betty.
  2. If you happen to have met someone in the Philippines who can help you, just send me their name, address, their credit card number and expiration date, along with the code on the back of the card, and then I’ll call Betty back, pay the 100 peso fine, and send you the 8-digit number, and then you can pick up the $5,000 USD.

I look forward to your response,

– Art


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