September 11

National Boss/Employee Exchange Day


“Now’s your chance, since you think my job is so easy.”

Your boss spoke first, but you were planning to say essentially the same thing to him.  The way you look at it, he basically goofs off at his computer all day, while you do all the real work.  This Boss/Employee Exchange Day offers an opportunity for him to try and accomplish the same tasks you complete each day, despite outdated equipment…and his occasional interference.

He hands you the keys to his plush office, and you give him the keys that will let him operate the machinery.

Before he leaves, your boss signs onto his computer and pulls up the remote operating systems, and the various supervisory modules.  He has a bad memory, so all his passwords are written on the last page of his desk calendar.

“Have fun,” you say.

As he leaves for the main floor, you privately laugh about his uncalloused hands, his fitted dress shirt and suit, the polished leather dress shoes with insufficient traction on the soles.  His silk tie will start to seem awfully tight around his neck after, oh, about ten minutes on the job.

You press a Q-Cup into his coffeemaker and wait for the Signature Roast to brew and drip into a Styrofoam cup.  After a few sips, you head to the desk and sink back into a cushioned leather desk chair.

It’s more comfortable than your best chair at home.  It’s more comfortable than your bed.

Maybe you should just put your feet up on the desk and take a nap.  You’re pretty sure that’s what your boss does, whenever he feels like it.

Planning ahead, in case you do fall asleep, you cross to the office door and lock it from the inside.

Back at the desk, you switch on the program for the security cameras.  A grid of four locations come up onscreen, and you click on the one for your usual station.  There’s your boss, staring at a control panel without the slightest idea what to do.  This is going to be good.

A pop-up window appears in the lower right corner of the screen.  It’s a “Note to Self” with your boss listing tasks for the day — obviously, his cute way of giving you instructions.  Everything looks pretty straightforward.

You’ve been thinking you should do his work better than he could himself.  You’ll show him up.  When he comes back an hour later, sweating and overwhelmed and begging to switch back, he’ll find you’ve finished early with his full 8-hours of tasks — and maybe set up a new streamlined system to improve productivity and worker morale.

The other temptation, though, is to do a terrible job.  Louse everything up, so the jerk will have to actually work hard tomorrow to make things right.

That second idea sounds like more fun.

You open the remote operating system, and check the levels on the reactors.  You click and slide a few computerized levers, just to see what will happen.

On the security-camera feed, you see your boss straining to push a physical lever, and it’s not responding.  He turns and waves his hands.  It strikes you that it really is funny to see someone in a suit and tie working on the main floor.

You slide another button on the screen.

Then the monitor flashes red.  A shrill mini-siren sounds through the computer speakers.  On the screen, your boss jumps up and down like a kid having a temper tantrum.

Which is all crazy, since you haven’t really done anything that serious.  Just to play along, you click the computer mouse and slide all the lever back to their previous position.

The sirens keep beeping.  The little man on the screen keeps jumping up and down, pointing at the camera.  He knows you’re watching him.

That’s when you realize this is all part of an elaborate hoax.  Your boss must have programmed some kind of “meltdown simulation” into his computer, then set it to take effect after your first entries on his screen.

Supposed proof at how difficult his job really is, since an “inexperienced Joe” like yourself would basically cause an apocalypse within ten minutes.

Your boss is no longer visible from his previous security monitor position.  In another window, you see a suit-and-tie guy running.  He looks awkward, like he’s never had to run before.

Clicks of rapid steps sound on the metal stairway leading up to the office.  On the monitor, the meltdown simulation begins to alter different security feeds.  You’re glad this is a practical joke, because otherwise this stuff looks pretty scary.

Someone outside tries the knob, then bangs on the door when it doesn’t open.

You put your feet up on the desk, and watch a few security screens flare up then go offline.  Too bad your boss doesn’t keep popcorn in his office.