Then We Came to the End: A Novel
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No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts. Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks.
With a demon's eye for the details that make life worth noticing, Joshua Ferris tells a true and funny story about survival in life's strangest environment--the one we pretend is normal five days a week.
print stations. One time, Tom Mota was standing at a print station when Joe sidled up next to him and said, “Morning.” Just at that moment, Tom had something awkward coming out of the color printer. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly work-related. This was before the copy-code policy was implemented as part of the aus-terity measures, which also prevented Hank Neary from photocopying library books in the morning and reading the Xeroxed pages all day at his desk. Joe’s job no doubt was something
being sacked, Tom Mota knocked on Carl’s door. This was only a few days or so after Benny told us the story of Carl undressing in his car. Tom apologized to Carl for interrupting his lunch and asked if he had a minute. Carl invited him in and Tom took a seat. “So I heard from Benny some things about how you were feeling lately,” Tom began, “that when I heard them, I found I could relate, so I bought you something.” Tom handed Carl a book across the desk. “Don’t be mad at Benny, you know how he
they drove down Lower Wacker on their way home to the suburbs. We didn’t think we would be forced to wave at them from our lit oil drums. But that we might have to fill out an unemployment form over the Internet was not out of the question. That we might struggle to make rent or a mortgage payment was a real and frightening prospect. Yet we were still alive, we had to remember that. The sun still shone in as we sat at our desks. Certain days it was enough just to look out at the clouds and at
for, and I understand you’re just doing what you have to do — that’s who I feel sorry for. Those people kill me. A grown man crying? Uh, no. And listen to this! An hour later, he shows up for a meeting. I come in, he’s sitting in my office. I just fired him, he’s sitting in my office. I said to him, Chris, you have to leave. God knows I can’t have them sticking around! Wait — did she just say that last part out loud? A hazard of living alone. One of the cats is looking at her from the floor. Or
doesn’t even cross her mind that he could be anywhere else. The familiar ring, the familiar voice mail — speak now or forever hold on to your self-respect. She hangs up. Wise choice. She calls back. “Martin, I’m at this number, it’s —” She gives him the number. “Can you call me here when you get back to your desk, please? It’s urgent.” She peers about as she waits. There is a dark orange light cast above the gas pumps that is almost super-natural in its hazy Halloween glow, illuminating, though