Time passenger

(Disclaimer: The following story is not a dream.  At least not for me.  You may be dreaming that you’re reading it, but that’s not my problem.)

Friday morning, I woke up late.  I had been home the previous day partly scrambling to prepare for a possible emergency trip that I didn’t end up having to make, and partly waiting to find out if I was going to need to make it.  As a result, the day was pretty much a blur.  I had trouble getting to sleep, so as I often do, I went downstairs and slept on the couch.  (Disclaimer: For some reason, I sleep better on my couch than I do in my bed.  I suspect that if I were married, I’d end up picking a lot of fights with my wife, just to get a good night’s sleep.)

Anyway, I apparently slept through my alarm.  I only woke up about 15 minutes later than usual, so there was no panic.  I got up, showered, got dressed, checked my e-mail, read the news online, and finally headed off to work, much as I do every Friday.  Traffic was light, but that’s because I go to work after rush hour is over.

So I got to work, turned into the parking lot, and it was empty.  Maybe three or four cars, total.  Since I come in late, the parking lot is usually full, so this was unexpected.  Where was everybody?

My first thought was that there was some sort of site-wide meeting that I was missing.  (Being out the previous day, I had not checked my work e-mail.)  But that didn’t make sense.  No manager, from the first line to the CEO, commands that kind of attention.  In fact, the farther up the chain you go, the sparser the attendance at “all-hands” meetings.

Having discarded that, my next thought was that the power was out, and everyone had either been sent home or decided to work from home.  As I approached the building, I saw lights on inside, and the badge reader on the front door worked, so it wasn’t an electrical issue.  Maybe they’ve evacuated the building for other reasons…

As I entered, I was hit by the smell of paint fumes.  Ah, maybe they’re painting the building, and sent everyone home?  I called up to one of the painters and asked if the building was closed, but his reaction indicated that I was not speaking a language he understood.  So I continued inside.

At the elevators, I met a man shouting orders into a walkie-talkie in English.  I asked him if the building was closed.  He said no.  I told him I thought maybe it was because of the painting, but he said they were only painting the stairwells.

I rode the elevator up to the floor where I work.  It was completely deserted.  This wasn’t a total surprise.  A lot of the guys in my department work from home on Fridays, so the office can have a ghost town vibe.  But the entire floor was deserted.  I was hoping there would be some lone survivor who would be able to tell me with his dying breath what had happened to everyone.  No such luck.

By this time, I had exhausted all the boring, reasonable answers, and was moving into the bonus round, where I get to come up with ideas that are more interesting than real life.

  • Radiation leak
  • Warp bubble where everyone had disappeared but me
  • Temporal shift where I was slightly out of sync with the rest of the universe

I briefly considered that maybe my company had decided to celebrate MLK day on Friday instead of Monday, but that was crazy talk.

Finally, I decided to give up.  As I started to leave, I texted my old manager (who is now my second-line manager): Why is the building empty?  Did I miss an e-mail?

I was driving past all the other empty buildings on campus when I got a call from my manager.  I pulled into the empty parking lot of another of the buildings and answered the phone.  The conversation went like this:

Me: I just got to the office, and the place is a ghost town?  Did they make an announcement yesterday that I missed?

Her: John, today is Saturday.

Me: What??

I was in the office all of 15 minutes on Friday before my sister’s text.  For the rest of that day, I had no context clues about what day it was.  Friday night I went to bed thinking I had to get up for work the next morning.  Saturday morning I didn’t turn on the TV, never looked at my watch or cell phone, never read the date on any of my e-mail, didn’t talk to anyone, and listened to satellite radio on the way to work.

At no time did I ever doubt that today was Friday.

My joke response when asked “How’s it going?” is to say, “Not bad for a Monday!” regardless of the day, because most weekdays are pretty much the same.

I rest my case.