NPR recently had a three minute story competition. The rules were simple: you had to complete a story that could be read in three minutes (300 words or less), someone had to tell a joke in it, and someone had to cry. I wasn’t able to do a story by the deadline but I love that type of challenge so I completed it anyway. Writing something that brief is tough work, even for someone who loves writing sketches. Here’s what I slapped together.
DISCLAIMER: I didn’t write the joke. It’s just my favorite one.
Jerrod Kinsey was ambitious. No one doubted that fact. If ambition was all it took, he’d already be the CEO of Franklin Widget. He was a top salesman, well liked by management, and careful not to mix personal issues with business. It was a solid situation but all moot when he was busted for viewing porn at work.
It wasn’t even real porn, just a Spanish site where girls gave you a Virtual Lap Dance. It was a late Wednesday and he was alone in the office. He figured it was no harm, no foul. The IT Department felt different.
The meeting with his boss was humiliating. He even cried. Not because he loved the job but it would take his career years to recover from being fired for this reason. Stewart, their former VP, let him go with a warning.
When Jerrod returned to his desk, there was a note stuck to his monitor that read “Festiva”, the name of the website. So everyone knew and the humiliation was complete. Right then, he decided he wouldn’t rest until they all had black marks against them too.
Stewart was a rules stickler and handed out reprimands as fast as Jerrod reported the crimes. John went down for Facebooking, Carl was busted for sleeping in the bathroom, and best of all, Lindsay was nailed for phone sex in the break area outside.
Mike’s joke would be the final stroke. Once he was stung, Jerrod would be on equal footing with the entire sales team. He’d emailed Gil, Stewart’s replacement, who asked him to swing by his office after lunch.
Jerrod sat waiting in his office. The plaque on his file cabinet read “Know Jesus, Know Peace / No Jesus, No Peace”. He wondered if Gil was a “Love Thy Neighbor” or “Judge Thy Neighbor” Christian. “Love Thy Neighbor” would’ve been no good.
“I apologize about running behind,” Gil said as he settled behind the desk.
Jerrod sat up. “No problem, sir.”
“Your email mentioned an inappropriate joke.”
“Yes. I heard Mike say it to a client.”
Mike folded his hands. “What was it?”
Jerrod balked. “It’s not my joke.”
“Alright. A guy goes to the doctor. The doctor tells him he has to stop masturbating and when he asks why, the doctor says ‘Because I’m trying to examine you.'”
Gil’s face was blank. “I don’t get it.”
“Yes, the joke.”
“The doctor couldn’t examine him because he was masturbating.”
“Why would he masturbate in the doctor’s office?”
This wasn’t how Jerrod had imagined the meeting. “I don’t know. ”
“The joke doesn’t make sense.”
“Again, it’s not my joke,” Jerrod said. His tone was more harsh than he’d intended and Gil raised an eyebrow in response.
Gil jostled his mouse, bringing his computer screen back to life. “I’ve looked over my predecessor’s notes. You’ve reported a lot of infractions recently.”
Jerrod shifted in his seat. “Stewart appreciated it.”
Gil scrolled further down the screen. “Your sales are down.”
“They’re down quite a bit.” He turned his attention back to Jerrod. “In fact, your only incresing number is how many co-workers you’re tattling on.”
“You need to get back out there,” Gil said. “Let’s not have a meeting like this again.”
Jerrod walked back to his desk, past indifferent colleagues, and settled into his chair. He had a different manager now and needed to adapt. Gil would slip up soon and he needed to keep his eyes peeled for it.