January 23, 2007

A Play A Day #285

Freedom From Choice


Setting: Three open-faced cubes in a cube-farm office. The crops don't look healthy: the office is poorly-lit, the hum of flourescent lighting is quite obvious, the cubes and desks are not decorated at all. Ianda sits in the stage right cube, Vern sits in the stage left cube, middle cube is empty. Ianda and Vern are in neutral colors.

(Lights up, enter Justin, stage right)

Ianda: (turning as he passes) Oh, hey, you must be Mike's replacement.

Justin: Umm, yeah, yeah. I'm Justin.

I: Ianda. (they shake hands)

J: Ianda?

I: That's right.

Vern: (turning toward them) I call her "I".

I: Yes, he does. Justin, this is Vern.

J: Hi, Vern.

V: Hey.

J: (beat) So, this is my desk then?

I: Yours for the taking.

V: Grab hold, Justin, she's a wild desk!

J: Really?

V: Uhh... no, just a ... a, a metaphor.

J: Oh. Yeah, right.

I: Watch out for Vern; he's a writer.

V: I! Don't! You promised.

I: Sorry. I just thought, with the use of the metaphor, you might...

V: No. Don't.

I: Fine... fine... sorry. I won't.

(awkward pause)

J: So, this is mine, because I wasn't sure if they said Department 16, Sector 9, Subsector G... or Department 9, Sector 16... I knew it was G, but then I got confused.

V: Ohhh... good thing you didn't go to Department 9, Sector 16.

I: Yeah, you're lucky you don't have to work there.

J: Why? What's wrong with them?

I: No idea. Never met anyone from that sector, none that I know of anyway.

V: Me either.

J: Oh... ahhh...

I: It's just that Department 9, and Department 10 for that matter, are nearly three and a half miles from the front door.

J: What? Really?

V: About that far, yeah.

J: 'Cuz I was going to say that it seemed really far to get to this department.

I: No... it's only one mile to get to these desks.

V: Almost perfectly one mile.

J: Really, that's... amazing... three and a half miles.

I: It's a huge building, Justin. I mean, really, really, really huge.

V: Those unlucky bums have to walk for an hour or more just to get to their desks each day.

J: Wow!

I: So, what that means is, they start work at eight a.m., they have to get to the door at 6:30 a.m. or earlier.

J: An hour and a half?

I: Well, with more than one thousand people in Departments 9 and 10, all arriving at 6:30 - 7 a.m., hall traffic gets very heavy, adds twenty minutes or more to their door-to-desk commute each way.

V: At night, same thing. They work 'til 5 p.m. and don't leave the building until 6:30 or so.

I: Plus the half an hour to get to their cars and get out of the parking lot. Morning and night. It's a long day for Departments 9 and 10.

J: Yeah, good thing I'm here then.

V: I don't have to get to the front door until 7:40. I walk fast, and the hall traffic is only bad for a few minutes.

I: Same here.

J: Great, I guess I'm supposed to get going on the job right away. They said it would be self-explanatory, when I got to my desk.

V: Yeah, it's very easy.

I: I was up to speed within a minute of starting here.

J: So... I open this folder... and follow the instructions in this envelope. (opens envelope and reads)

V: Make sure we don't see it.

I: Very bad, don't let us see.

J: (still reading) Uhhh... wait, this says that...

V: No! No! Don't tell us!

I: Really! Please don't.

J: Why... why not?

V: We can't know.

I: It may be too much for us.

J: But... I...

I: Justin. You cannot tell us. It's the rule.

V: Everyone minds their own business.

J: It says: "Hit 'enter'."

(Ianda and Vern raise their voices to protest, but it's too late, there is a long paroxysm of enormous shock from V and I, then quiet)

I: I wish... I wish... (she breaks down and cries)

V: This is... it, we have known of...

I: You should never have told us.

J: Why do I just hit 'enter'?

(long pause)

J: Do you know?

(long pause)

I: Yes. We know.

V: We know too much... now.

J: What? Tell me.

V: In ancient times, a band of brave capitalists foretold the coming of a Master Desk Jockey who would, by his powers, free all the desk jockeys everywhere. All the paperwork, at every desk, in every city, in every land will be completed for now and for eternity hereafter.

I: So it was written. So it has come to pass.

J: Ohhh... no! So you guys would be, like, out of a job then?

V: Yes.

J: If I hit 'enter'?

I: Yes.

J: And I'm the Master Desk... uhh... whatever guy?

V: Master Desk Jockey. You are he.

I: He are you.

J: I... I don't know what to say... I ... I didn't have anything to do with this... I just graduated in May, my Dad knew a guy who knew a guy and so I applied basically... and...

I: It is of no matter your path. It is of no consequence your inexperience.

V: You. Are. He.

I: That is all.

V: You have received the end message. The ultimate and final action step.

J: Listen, I don't want you guys to have to find new jobs and everything... I know how much that...

I: Master Desk Jockey. We do not fear the loss of our jobs. The prophecy tells of a land where basic human needs are sated and people are left free to determine their own lives.

V: When you press 'enter', you will end work.

J: I just started.

I: Everywhere. For all time. Work will be done.

J: But, what will people do?

V: They will want for nothing. No schedule will be imposed upon their days. They are free to do... as they please!

I: (breaks down again) Don't you see how horrible it will be?!

J: No work? Ever? And all your basic needs will be met?

V: As if by magic.

I: The invisible hands of peace and love and caring will envelop the world.

J: That sounds great!

V: (exchanging a long, meaningful glance with I) You are the Master, but you must understand what will happen when you hit that key.

J: Yeah?

I: We will be gone.

J: Dead?

I: No, have you not been listening? You know, all basic needs met, free to do what we want, the peace, love, etc...? All that?

J: Oh... yeah... you said 'gone'; so I thought...

V: I was a writer before working here. Ianda was a modern dancer.

J: Great, so you'll be able to go back to that.

I: Exactly. Then we are in charge. We lead, and we follow. We are in control.

V: Here, we had none of that.

J: Yeah, exactly! And a mile to walk to your desks? Come on! Plus, it's so grimey and soulless in here; totally feel like just a number.

V: (sniffling back tears) 1-3-8-2-2-3.

I: 2-4-2-7-9-9.

(V and I bow their heads)

V: No more.

I: Gone.


J: (trying to cheer them up) Hey, hey! But you'll be number 1 out there now! Yaaayy!!

I: We will have to be responsible for ourselves now.

V: No comfort of the permanent same.

I: We will have to be artists! (shivers in disgust)

V: It is our true nature.

I: What we chose to not do. What we have hidden from in fear.

V: The terrible truth about us both.

I: And about almost all others in the caverns of commerce.

V: We will have to face the scourge of freedom of choice where before we had obtained bliss in the freedom from.

I: How will we go on?

J: Ahh... come on guys.. it won't be that bad, see... (he hits 'enter')

(lights change, the side two cubes roll and spin offstage, the walls of Justin's cube fall outward, his desk spins around, superhero "Master Desk Jockey" logo emblazoned on the front)

V: It is done.

I: We must go.

(V and I start to leave)

J: Listen, I... let me walk you to your cars, at least... we could go out for a beer?

V: Justin. You must stay here.

J: No, work's done. You said...

I: For everyone, except you.

V: Someone has to watch the store.

I: Forever.

(V and I morosely shuffle offstage)

(spotlight on his desk and chair, Justin is pushed by unseen forces into the chair, hands latch to the chair arms, snaps bolt upright, stares straight ahead, he swallows hard as spotlight turns off quickly)


1 comment:

Brendon Etter said...

Good old Devo, of course, gave me the idea for this one.

Doesn't everyone get their ideas from Devo?

Hope you enjoy. Try out some of the other plays as well.

Let me know what you think.