Important Business

9 a.m.: Hello. My name is Chester Cone. I work in an office.

Come on in.

That, over there, is my coffee machine. And this, right here, is my desk.

How are you doing today?

Have you ever worked in an office? I sure have. The only thing I’ve ever worked in is an office. This one costs $1,200 a month. Which is why I have to work in it.

There didn‘t used to be computers, but now there are. What kind of computer do you have? Do you like it?

Do you like coffee? Do you drink coffee? Would you like some coffee? Do you grind your own coffee? How much does your office cost?

11 a.m.: I’ve been having a pretty productive day. For example, two hours ago, when I first arrived and made coffee, it was barely 9 a.m. Now here it is already 11.

3 p.m.: Hello. Come on in. I‘m Chester Cone. This is my office. Thanks for coming in. Did you want some coffee? Do you? I just made a fresh pot.

I didn’t always have my own office. I used to share my office with Kathryn M., a co-worker who did the same thing I did, which is pretty much what we both do now. Only now we have our own separate offices in our own separate buildings and countries. Back in those days, I‘d sleep in until 7:40 and take a shower with a corrosive deodorant soap until 7:55. In the shower, I’d think about my office and how, when I arrived there at 8:50, Kathryn M. would be sitting at the desk that looked just like mine but wasn‘t. She would be talking on the telephone. She would have already prepared a clean fresh nice hot pot of coffee, for she would have arrived at 8:35. She, too, would smell like corrosive deodorant soap.

5 p.m.: Do you hear that? That’s a car alarm. Don‘t panic. If you want to call the cops, dial 9 to get an outside line.

Did you know that there’s never been even one documented instance of a car alarm preventing the theft of a car? That‘s a fact. That’s why I‘m glad my office is not downtown or in Century City or Hollywood, or anywhere like that. No cars, no high-rise parking lots, no alarms going off all day. Except for this one.

Go ahead -- dial 9.

4 a.m.: Come on in. My name is Chester Cone. Welcome to my office. Have a seat. This is my credenza. That’s my taboret. These are my reference books. Those are my pictures.

What‘s your name? Where do you come from? Do you have pictures?

Do you work hard in your office? Where I come from, everyone works real hard. Today, for example, I had important meetings from 9 a.m. straight through to 5 p.m., when I got distracted by a car alarm. I ate no lunch or dinner, but I drank 31 fresh nice hot cups of coffee, and asked one of my clients to call the police.

Do you have options in your office? Where I come from, everyone has options:

To listen to your messages, press 1; to send a message, press 2; personal options, press 3; check delivery, press 4.

Personal options: greetings, press 1; access codes, press 2; group lists, press 3; message notification, press 4.

Greetings: to listen, press 1; to record, press 2.

To record your name, press 1; mailbox greeting, press 2.

At the tone, record your mailbox greeting; when you’re finished, press pound.

”Hello. You‘ve reached the office of Chester Cone. I’m sorry I missed your call. Please go to the National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s Boulder division (www.boulder.nist.gov) and download two fine, huge JPEGs. One (www.boulder.nist.govtimefreqwwvgallery_jpegpanaoffice.JPG) is a 360-degree panorama of someplace inside the office; the other (www.boulder.nist.govtimefreqwwvgallery_jpegpanaoutside.JPG) is a 360-degree panorama of someplace outside the office. Both are huge -- 4,032 by 768 pixels. Then download a car-alarm WAV (http:houseofdebo.simplenet.comwavsOtherCaralarm.wav) from something called The House of Debo. Open all three files from within your registered QuickTime Player. Unless your monitor can display 4,032 pixels horizontally, you’ll need to go to the Movie menu and select Fill Screen to see the entirety of the office and non-office images. Place the office at the top of your screen and the outside at the bottom. Separate them by stretching the car alarm across the middle. Turn the alarm‘s volume down almost all the way, set it to Loop, hit Play and go make some coffee. When you return, everything should be exactly the same as you left it. At the tone, please leave me a message. I’ll return your call as soon as I can.“