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meperson Released Oct 27, 2012

You know that one guy at the office? The one that never seems to leave?

Mine is called Bartleby.

That’s all I know.  Yes, I know that he does something bleak and dull in accounting.  The substance, though, where he’s from, if he’s married, his first name for Christ’s sake, remains a mystery.

Ours is a social office.  Every few weeks we take a long lunch on Friday, go out, and relax.  Whenever the e-mail is sent out, almost immediately we get Bartleby’s reply:

I would prefer not to.

Sometimes people bring in cake or something.  We take a break; let everyone know what’s going on.  Bartleby replies:

I would prefer not to.

Once, Andy tried to bring him a piece.  He never looked up from his screen.  He didn’t seem to realize anyone was there.

I’ve never had reason to talk to him – again, accounting, bleak.  Sometimes I hear someone else talking to him.  The conversation invariably ends with that damnable line:

I would prefer not to.

Do we actually get to say that and keep our job? 

Honestly, though, I worry about the guy.  If I get in at 5, he’s there.  If I leave at 11, he’s there.  I’ve never seen him get up for lunch or the bathroom.  He never gets coffee or water.

One day he’ll keel over at his desk.  As they carry him away, I swear we’ll hear him croak out:

I would prefer not to.

[A modern take on Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener. Public domain, etc.]