Ones and Zeros

I’m a one. I’m a zero. On and off.

The call kept going. Seven minutes in, and we’d covered the fact that we were indeed on yet another call. Other topics such as Carl’s vacation at his in-laws (it wasn’t fun) and the weather at all of the attendee’s various locations (mostly complaints) were covered in great detail. I should not neglect one full minute dedicated, once again, to hating the new conference call system.

I’m a one. I’m a zero.

“It’s just like, I can’t even tell who’s joined the call anymore. Ted? Ted, are you on?”


“Ted, was that you joining?”

Dogs barking

“No, hi, it’s Tanya. I’m working from home today, so you might hear my dog.”

Dogs barking

“Thank you, Tanya. We hear them. If you could go on mute.”

Barks clipped off mid bark

I’m a one. I’m a zero. Mostly zero. Coke Zero. Wasn’t that a thing? Was there a Pepsi One?

“Should we reschedule?”

Coke Zero? Seriously? They were so confident in their brand that they named it Zero? That’s ballsy.

“Did Steve accept the invite?”

I examined the word ‘Coffee’ that I drew in three-dimensional letters across a paper cup.

Static, bleep

“Steve texted me, hang on…”

Dogs bark

A car door slams

“Cream and sugar, please.”

I reached to grab a yellow highlighter. My headset was just long enough to allow me to select one from a plastic bin filled with colorful branded pens.

“He texted me as well.”

I began coloring in the letters. Turning the cup and admiring my work.


“Hey, sorry I’m late. It’s Ted.”

Cup finished I set it down and sighed. Don’t rappers say something about ones and twos? They skip zero. No on and off there, just on and more on.

“Steve’s at an off-site meeting, he can’t make this… I think. Let’s reschedule in say, forty-five minutes. Does that work for everyone?”

Less than zero. I’ve heard of that. It was a movie that had that guy in it, from the other thing. Shit, and that other guy from Big.

I brought up the Internet Movie Database on my screen, sliding the Webex window underneath.

“I can make it.”

“I can, too.”

“That was me, Tanya.”

“I’ve got a conflict.”

Dogs bark

The cleaning crew began emptying trash barrels into a pushcart and vacuuming in my cube. I pressed mute.

“Was that Ted?”

Andrew McCarthy, that’s who I was thinking of. He wasn’t a zero. Not a real leading man type, but not a one either I guess. What does that even mean? I’ve lost my metaphor.

On and off.

I swiveled in my chair a full rotation. The wall. My monitor. The wall. My monitor.

“Everyone can hang up now.”

I looked up at the ceiling swirling above as my headset sprang loose and knocked the bin of pens over before landing on the floor. I picked it up and tossed it on my desk. My cup was gone. The barrels emptied. The sounds of vacuuming faded as the crew roamed down the cubicle lined hall.

I heard a squeaking sound coming from somewhere. I picked up the headset.

“Hello? Is anyone still on? Hello…”

On and off.