The hierarchy of my office was strict and thoroughly understood. It went; Pete the CEO, then his mistress and sometimes secretary, Serephine. Next came three whole floors of overstressed salespeople. Then me, the invisible janitor.
It’s true, they all ignored my presence like I was the bastard child of Gordon Telemarketing. I hadn’t had a soul at this company look me in the eye for ten years. I tested my invisible theory after an existential breakdown one weekend. I couldn’t imagine pulling on my blue coveralls and walking through that scuffed back door one more day but I went back to see if I was right.
With a washable marker, I drew a large penis on my cheek that any schoolboy would be happy to doodle into the margins of a book. The head was pointed to my lips and the balls where adorned with rather spikey hair. A proper graffiti, right there on my left cheek, all day and no one said a word. No one noticed.
That day I realized I was a man seen as less than dog crap by a large amount of people. I deserved at least a hello in the morning for scraping the gum from the underside of their desks. Even a smile would have sufficed for cleaning the diarrhea that sprayed the backside of the toilet when they had drank too much coffee. But I was a reminder of their disgusting habits and I knew their secrets, so if they didn’t “see” me, I didn’t exist. They could go on with their day, cheery and pretending like they didn’t just plug the second floor toilet with something the size of a toddlers arm.
I talked myself into leaving my job every night for a month, but got up and went every morning anyway. Depressing as it was, it was all I had going on in my life since Cindy passed. No one hired a middle aged man for janitorial work, they preferred the young bucks with good backs and full of enthusiasm that hasn’t been drained from their souls. I went, because I couldn’t afford to do anything else and I didn’t want to sit and stare at the wall until I ended up drinking the gallon of bleach kept under the kitchen sink.
Only one day before I planned to jump from the roof and onto the front walkway, just to make a mess they would have to see, I found the drawer. Like I said, eventually I knew everyone’s secrets. Turns out good ol’ Pete was cheating on more than his wife. He had paperwork for a secret offshore account and the idiot had written the account passcode on the backside and labeled it “Pin”. Using my phone, I took a picture of the papers and returned them to their hidey hole. I was shaking with excitement as I finished vacuuming his office. He was no doubt funneling money from the company to run off with Serephine. Now, if there had been no pin I would have just reported him and snickered as they hauled his slimy butt off to jail. But no, he’d been dumb enough to leave the code on the same paper as the account number for an untraceable account. I couldn’t let this opportunity slip through my calloused fingers.
I had to be smart about this if I wanted to get away without the Feds on my tail. I waited a month and a week to make my move. I researched and plotted, until the security cameras that recorded me looking in Pete’s secret drawer would be wiped and replaced with new footage. I knew this about the security system because I had helped the man who installed it. Every month the footage just disappeared. I would be as untraceable as the new bank account I opened and the burner smart phones I used to do it.
A week after the footage reset, I woke up early and drove to another town. Then used another burner phone to transfer Pete’s funds to my new bank. I had been so temped, almost to the point of insanity, to check the balance. The only thing that stopped me time and again was the possibly that Pete might be able to see the unauthorized login and change his passcode. I couldn’t risk it.
All my waiting and careful planning paid off. I signed in to the bank and the amount of zeros that stared back at me brought tears to my eyes. I typed a few keys and I instantly became a multimillionaire. Tossing the phones, I drove in to Gordon Telemarketing like any other Monday. Now I had a secret too.
It was Friday when Pete realized he’d lost it all. I was in the basement fixing a leaky pipe when approaching sirens alerted me something was wrong. I ran up the stairs as fast as my creaky knees would allow and slid in behind the crowd forming in the lobby. People talked quietly to each other and continued to ignore me, “He murdered that poor woman, for no reason! I heard that Serephine was screaming that she didn’t do it and he just kept smashing her head in with his lamp. He just went crazy, I guess.”
I had a hard pang of guilt, and was able to guess that it wasn’t just work stress that made him snap and murder his secretary. I tried not to let it get to me but I kept thinking that when I get to paradise, I’m going to need a shrink. The police sent us all home early while they did an investigation.
By Monday they had cleaned the carpets in Pete’s office and Phil the new CEO was beginning a restructuring process. The guy was twice the snake Pete was. Within a month twenty people were laid off, all of them in their forties or older; myself included. They even had the balls to have me train my replacement. I did and I smiled at his exuberant incompetence, because once again I’d been handed an ideal opportunity. I’d originally planned to leave after six months to deter any suspicion, but Phil handed me a pink slip and an perfect out.
Before my forced retirement, I heard rumors about Pete embezzling money and that the Feds thought Serephine had double crossed her lover and stolen the money. The company was told that the cash was just gone now that the only person with the account information and code was dead. Pete faced what amounted to life in jail.
I walked out of Gorgon Telecommunications on my last day and I was invisible.
I liked it that way.
Picture is from http://media.istockphoto.com