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Preston Dirges Takes Valerie Into Space

Int. Deserted Office Floor – Day

Preston opens a door and leads Valerie on to the first floor of the building. It is seemingly deserted. There is no office furniture, only indents in the carpet where the furniture used to be. The only other evidence of former use are the glass-fronted meeting cubicles lining the wall on one side. Preston walks ahead but Valerie stops, concerned about where Preston is taking her and angry at how she has been treated. Preston, noticing that Valerie is not following, stops also, and turns back to face her. He stands in silence, looking at her. Behind him, a tumbleweed rolls by.

VALERIE: (peeved) I thought we were going to your desk.

PRESTON: We are. It’s just round the corner.

VALERIE: But where’s everyone else?

PRESTON: They’re on the other floors.

VALERIE: Why isn’t anyone on this floor?

PRESTON: I’m impressed by you asking that. They moved the people who were on this floor, apart from me.

VALERIE: Impressed by what? Why did they move them from this floor?

PRESTON: Impressed that you know the ‘five whys’; I wouldn’t expect a new graduate to know that technique. So they could rent out this floor to another company.

VALERIE: What’s the ‘five whys’? And why didn’t they move you too?

PRESTON: It’s a technique where you keep asking why, why, why, over and over, until you get to the real root of a problem. They didn’t move me because they forgot they employed me, and when they finally remembered, there wasn’t any space left to put me on any other floor.

VALERIE: I’ve never heard of the ‘five whys’, but I guess it makes sense. Why is it five and not six or seven? And why didn’t they move some of the people back?

PRESTON: Don’t get hung up on the number of whys – the point is to keep asking until you can’t ask any more. Management didn’t want to appear foolish and didn’t have any budget left to pay the company that moved people’s desks first time. Or maybe they’re going to fire me soon.

VALERIE: I’m not just a graduate.

PRESTON: I didn’t say you are just a graduate. I just said that you are a new graduate. Although I’ll admit that you look a bit old to be a new graduate.

VALERIE: I took time out to travel. Before and after. And during. And what kind of management technique is no different to an insistent 8 year old?

PRESTON: Insistent 8 year olds have all the characteristics needed to be a Board member. Except for friends in high places.

Valerie laughs. It releases some of her tension.

VALERIE: So you have this whole floor to yourself?

PRESTON: Not any more.

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