Out-of-Office Reply

by a contributor

Thomas Mundt

You have reached the desk of Cort Plumlee. It is with great regret that I inform you that I have no desk, just a smartphone permanently affixed to my hip, sheathed in a stylish pleather holster. I have my concerns about the child labor undoubtedly employed in the manufacturing of said accoutrement, but that is neither here nor there.

What is here and there, however, is that I am here, which is to say I have gone black for the day. I do plan to go back, though, despite suggestions to the contrary. If this reference to a popular sexual aphorism has made you uncomfortable, my sincerest apologies. Please be advised that I am blessed to have had several strong African-American influences in my life, including but not limited to my high school guidance counselor, a Mr. T. Allen Diggs, and a former lover, Cheryl. I am certain that, upon request, they would attest to the fact that this is the species of joke we made around one another all the time, given the post-racial ease with which we interacted.

But I digress. It is not my intention to keep you or any other interested party in the dark about my whereabouts, so please allow me to cut to the chase: I am currently in South Bend, Indiana, watching my eldest, Tracy, participate in a field hockey tournament. I am here under protest, mind you, and at the insistence of Tracy’s mother, who is currently hospitalized with acute appendicitis. Lest you question the level of my parental involvement, however, please know that the hesitancy with which I sit in the bleachers, ensconced in polar fleece and quarter-drunk on Speedway-brand Irish coffee, has nothing to do with my desire, or lack thereof, to participate in my pre-teen daughter’s life. It derives from my knowing abso-fucking-lutely nothing about the subject sport, the rules, regulations, and strategies that make it tick.

Additionally, the presence of several unaccompanied middle-aged men with binoculars, intently focused upon the billowing of tartan skirts and the revelation of athletic bloomers underneath, is a cause for concern.

Now, I realize that you did not issue me electronic mail in the hope that you would receive a status update concerning my travels to Midwestern college towns and the various comings-and-goings of the precocious young women therein. No, you queried me because you want, nay, need something. There is a corrupted Excel sheet you need debugged, a thrice-downloaded Adobe Acrobat update that refuses to take. You want to know if I found your key card, which you believe you may have dropped near the plaza-level vending machines.

I am writing to inform you that, today, as I watch a tiny orange ball get lobbed back and forth across the torn-up sod of a second-tier junior college green, the November chill threatening to freeze my mucus and seal my nasal passages like sarcophagi, I unequivocally and unabashedly do not give a shit.

Before you scroll through the remainder of my response in search of contact information for Rudy, my backup, please allow me to explain.

You see, I have catered to the whims of the tenants of the Crowne Center office park (hereinafter collectively referred to as “You People”) for upwards of thirteen years now and, during my tenure as Chief Technology Consultant, very little has changed for me, both professionally and personally. Granted, my income has seen steady, industry-consistent increases of three-percent annually during that timeframe, and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my good fortune for the same in this era of continued economic decline. The holiday parties and their related cold cuts-and-cheese buffets should not go unrecognized, either. It is just that, when a man invests in expensive, terrain-appropriate footwear such that he can scale a rock formation, lean out over its precipice, and take in the bounty below, the faces, places, and traces of dreams conjured and realized, he wants to see his mark. He wishes to point to a pear tree planted, a regional frozen foods distribution warehouse leased and utilized, and say I did that. That was me there, in the smock. Metaphorically-speaking, of course.

It is the days when You People call me Curt, or Kirk, or Mort, and after spending forty-five minutes cleaning ill-advised Limewire frolics off of your hard drives, that remind me that I have fallen well short of any mark-making goals I may have set in my youth. Thus, I will spend the remainder of my Friday in the company of Tiger Moms, indulging in my maudlin fantasies and, if I get hungry, oversized hot pretzels with extra salt and honey mustard dipping sauce.

Rest assured that I will return on Monday, ready to address any technology-related conundrums you may have encountered and/or caused during my absence. I will accept your right hand for a shake upon the completion of my Service Ticket, knowing full well that this is the best I can hope for under the circumstances, and from here on out.

Very truly yours,

Cort R. Plumlee
Chief Technology Consultant
Cotillion, A Certo Company


Thomas Mundt is the author of one short story collection, You Have Until Noon to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe (Lady Lazarus Press, 2011), and the father of one human boy, Henry (2011). Teambuilding opportunities and risk management advice can be found at http://www.dontdissthewizard.blogspot.com/.

See Thomas’ list of 5 Things You Should Read in our ongoing contributors’ series.

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