Co-workers bond while trying to prepare for the avalanche of layoffs hitting their New York office. Jonah cites his co-workers woes as they all prepare to be fired. They don't know the time or date and work in fear of being called into the bosses office whom they nickname The Sprout. Russell is his given name and he is a weird guy who uses an uncanny method of office management.
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They communicate face-to-face of course, but mostly through group emails they hope Sprout never accesses. Through emails they share hopes, dreams, and fears about the office and the outside world.
The building where they work is located in Manhattan on an obscure block devoid of signage. The staff meets visitors outside by the news stand or they will never find the correct place and meetings will be missed.
Everyone dresses casually in faded tees and jeans with the exception of Maxine who the rest of the team deems may be the only one left with Sprout after mass firings take place. She lives in heels and suggestive tight fitting tops that accentuate her cleavage. A staff meeting is called after Maxine learns that emails are circulating about her personal style of dress that suggests she may be trying to use her femme fatale skills to move up. In the meeting it is made clear that talking about Maxine will not be tolerated and the culprit(s) will be written up on sexual harassment charges if it happens again.
Maxine came in at a higher pay grade with an actual title and it is clear that Sprout has plans to keep her on board. The staff is intimidated by Maxine but most have a crush on her. The women admire her cool composure and fashion coordination, and the men think she's hot and unattainable. She sends out excessively worded group emails that mandate staff do more and stretch higher to meet company goals which none of the staff are quite clear on.
With a lot of snooping outside of the Sprout's office door the staff determines that a merger is going down which will bring a new parent company from California. They have no idea how this will work other than new management will likely want to start fresh with a new team they bring in. At present staff feels over worked and under paid doing things with an “east” coast state of mind, they know nothing about California except what co-worker Lars can share of his experience fresh out of undergraduate school when he moved to California to try his hand at comedy script writing. His co-workers don't see him as a particularly funny.
Jonah is even better at snooping than Lars. He has learned to hide out behind garbage cans and underneath desks to gain office intel. He randomly picks Pru (Prudence) to send a twenty page email to explaining all he knows when he finds himself stuck in an elevator for several hours.
When Jonah was first hired three years earlier Sprout opened up and told Jonah personal information about his family. The Sprout was in the process of adopting a baby from China so he and his lawyer wife Shelia would have a sibling and playmate for their only child. Jonah suspects he was selected to glean this private information because he is half black.
He goes on to say, that California is indeed taking over and that no one will be spared least of all him. The elevator is dark and he touch types away feeling that he may not make it out of the elevator alive and he wants Pru and the rest of the gang to know that he was not a traitor. His computer falls to the floor and makes eerie sounds. It isn't dead so Jonah continues typing. He wants Pru to know, that it is not his fault that Sprout sought him out to confide in. Twenty pages of email come back to sender as Johah has inadvertently typed Prune instead of Pru in the “To” box of the email. As the story ends Jonah remains still hopeful that the elevator maintenance team can free him from the cage. He doesn't know if Pru will get the email or not, but he hopes she does and that she is willing to share it with the rest of the team.
Best part of story, including ending:
I hated that everyone was afraid to approach the boss.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was Johan writing the letter to Pru while stuck in the elevator.
Opinion about the main character:
I disliked that Jonah was viewed as a traitor by his peers.