Delta had always had passive-aggressive tendencies. These tendencies exemplified his personality. Without spending any time in self analysis, he liked the feeling being passive-aggressive gave him. It gave him a thrill. He played the part of the dutiful son, grandson, student and employee. Secretly, though, he was always plotting and scheming. On the outside, he was a model person. On the inside, he was always making plans to take over the world.

As a youth, he would get into trouble for being devious and cunning. He was always trying to ‘get one over’ on his parents and teachers. It was a mental challenge. He would run away to the ice cream shop. He’d occasionally sneak into the neighbor’s house. He’d disappear from the family chores to play with his toys. He even ran off regularly to explore the nearby forest and river. Shoplifting, though, was the primary outlet for his game and manifestation of his stealth. And, as would be expected, he got caught several times. His parents caught him. The stores caught him. His schools caught him. If not for his loving parents and teachers, he would surely have ended up in a juvenile facility. One time, while five years old, he lifted some candy from a store. His mother caught him with the empty candy wrappers several hours later. His mother did the right thing and whipped his butt. Instead of realizing he shouldn’t steal, he learned to better hide the evidence. Later, as a teenager, he lifted some cassette tapes from a store. He’d stolen from that store before. This time they were waiting for him. The store caught him before he’d walked ten feet from ‘the act’. Still failing to realize he shouldn’t steal, he instead learned he couldn’t “keep going back to the same well”. Being devious was difficult. The people of authority that surrounded him during those years never truly understood him. His activities were a natural extension of his general boredom. The expression about the devil and idle hands was probably coined for Delta. His passive-aggressiveness was his way of protesting his own malaise. That he was caught in his scheming repeatedly probably meant that few believed the passive role and before too long saw through to the aggressive streak. Regardless, he was a kid and the statute of limitations has long since run out. His mischievous streak was always only playful and never became truly criminal. It was just his way of keeping himself mentally entertained.

That all changed upon his going away to college. (No, he didn’t become a criminal.) The explosion of new, interesting, and exciting challenges brought about by the different scenery and prospect of being on his own out in the world matured Delta quickly. He no longer needed to be mischievous and devious in order to stay entertained. He met new people. He got involved in positive activities. He even found a girl or two willing to spend time with him. True, he didn’t achieve sainthood…and nor did the transformation to upstanding citizen happen overnight. Rather, he ended up settling in with a group of friends who all exhibited some of the same traits and personality quirks he had. They were smart and easily bored and looking for excitement, just like Delta. So, they did silly and devious college things together. And, occasionally, they stole a road sign or a flag or a concrete statue and put the item in their dorm rooms. In college, it was no longer considered stealing however. Instead, it was considered cool and counter-culture and anti-establishment to adorn a wall with pieces of pop (federally owned) art and black window curtains. Delta and his friends were avant garde decorators, even though they were merely repeating the same basic ritual as had been followed for more than thirty years. It is true that fighting the man in order to impress the chicks will never go out of style.

By the time Delta left college, he’d outgrown all of it, though. He’d had his fun with his friends. He’d impressed the chicks. And, he’d found things that were more important to him than mischievous playing around. He’d found a purpose in life. He was no longer (easily) bored. He got a job. He listened to his conscience. His job required morals and ethics and sometimes making tough choices. He found all of that and the job mentally stimulating. Yes, he worked in an agency where every day was spent finding new ways to fool consumers. But, Delta took it all very seriously. The job, the activities, the Clients, the responsibilities, and the Higher-Ups were too important (and too serious) for him to ever consider any of that mischievous fooling around of his youth. He put away his childish ways. He wasn’t bored any longer. The Agency was exciting.

And then, after a couple of years, he started working for someone that didn’t take it seriously…someone that exhibited every trait Delta had worked so hard to hide and outgrow…someone equally devious and cunning…and, Delta didn’t like the face he saw staring back at him.

It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took a couple of years of working for this person before Delta realized what was happening. Incidents had occurred, but Delta had ignored them. Things were said, and Delta had failed to respond. Delta had been too involved in his own work and life to be aware. But, when he did make the connection, he found he didn’t like that he’d been made to be complicit in the whole sordid affair. So, he began retaliating.

Delta had read The Art of War by Sun Tzu and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. He knew about strategy and tactics. He had a talent in this area. The business world required this skill anyway. Delta had just never used his powers for evil. Despite this, he never made an overt decision or fully committed himself (which was true to his passive-aggressive tendencies) to what he was doing. He just realized one day he’d been fighting a secret battle. Deviously. Mischievously. Cunningly.

Delta had always been the type who would listen to music in his office. Usually, though, he kept the volume low. Near the beginning of his battle he happened to hear the song “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen. The song had a huge impact on Delta. It became his anthem. He took to playing it loudly in his office every day. He would sing along, in as deep of a voice as he could manage (trying to mimic Leonard), belting out the chorus: “Everybody knows. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.” He loved the symbolism of the tune. Usually, Delta would plan this activity for whenever a certain person was on the phone. But also, when he got the timing right, he’d play and sing it when that person was arriving to or leaving the office. It didn’t matter so much as to when he played it. It was just more important that the chorus was heard. And, when initially confronted about the practice, Delta played it cool and calm. He pretended that the song was a stress reliever. He said it reminded him of an incident in college. He asked politely if it was bothersome. He promised to stop the practice if it became an issue with anyone. And, after awhile, he took to singing the chorus as he walked about the office, always careful to make sure he remained in earshot. “Everybody knows. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.

Oftentimes Delta was asked by the offending party for computer and tech assistance. Delta dreaded these requests. Usually they began with a phone call and the question of “are you busy?” The person making this call and asking this stupid question was in the next room…not ten feet away…and within earshot for normal speaking tones. Once Delta had dropped everything and hustled over to the next room, he’d find that a certain someone had mistakenly installed a virus…or deleted an important file…or forgotten how to type “password” for his password…or needed help remembering how to attach a porn picture to an email. The problems were always inane. And, Delta’s efforts would always be wasted. Assistance provided would be immediately forgotten. The person lacked the ability to remember the most basic of stuff, it seemed. So, on some of the days Delta was out of the office, he played little mischievous tricks. He did it on days he was out because it would have been worthless to do it while in the office. If he’d been present, he knew he’d end up getting the call and the “are you busy?” question. He knew he needed to be far away. Also, he didn’t do it every time he was out in order to keep the illusion the incidents were random. It was the simplest of gags. And, Delta was told, it had the absolute desired effect every time. He simply pulled the lan cable from the back of the certain person’s computer just enough to disconnect it. He didn’t remove the plug from the socket though. Doing this created the appearance the cable was connected. But, the internet and email didn’t work. The first couple of times it “happened” Delta was informed by others in the office upon returning that the IT guys in the Home Office had been hassled and forced to work on the case for an entire day. The inability to send email or surf porn via the desktop had created quite the office incident apparently. Hours were spent on the phone checking internet settings and Windows settings and IP/TCP/HTTP/ABCD/1234 ports in an attempt to diagnose the problem. That the rest of the office was able to get internet and email only created more confusion for them. It was great. Delta could barely hide his glee. By the fourth or fifth incident, the HelpDesk IT guys simply stopped returning the repeated voicemails. They too had gotten tired of having their assistance taken for granted. Instead, they called the Office Admin and informed her they’d be sending a new cable via overnight package.

Disabling the lan cable was never enough to completely disrupt the email communications, though. The offensive person also utilized a blackberry. And, since Delta was especially tired of receiving “do this” and “why did you do that” emails sent from a golf course, he decided to disable it ‘occasionally’ too. The trouble was that the blackberry NEVER left a certain person’s sight. So, Delta had to improvise. When snooping around the person’s office one day, Delta discovered the charger for the blackberry had been left behind. He realized he’d found his answer. He figured if he could disable the charger, the blackberry would be useless. (Well, it was useless until a replacement was provided by the IT guys.) So, Delta took the cable and severed the wires inside the plastic, without leaving an indication on the outside of the plastic that anything had occurred. (How he did this is his secret.) And, sure enough, the charger no longer worked. The blackberry was dead a lot after that.

Another song that affected Delta was the “I Feel Love” dance hit by Donna Summer. Every time he heard the song, he would become captivated by the haunting melody and stirring rhythms. He’d even sing along to the chorus. And, a radio station in Delta’s town played the song all the time. If it happened to be after hours when he heard the song, he’d call a certain person’s office phone number and place the cell phone close to the car speaker. And, then he’d leave a three or four minute message…of the song…and nothing else. The drivers of the cars immediately surrounding Delta certainly looked curious when they saw him driving and singing and holding his phone up to best capture the sound. Whenever he realized he was being watched he just smiled and kept right on transmitting. The phones at the office had caller-ID, so he knew his identity as the “I Feel Love” caller was known. But, he was never confronted about it. One time, he happened to be walking into the office right at the exact moment that one of the voicemails was being reviewed. The song was unmistakable. He had to choke back a chuckle. Later, though, he laughed when remembering there was no mechanism in the voicemail system for fast forwarding through messages.

Whenever he could, Delta would park in the offending person’s spot. Even on the days he knew the spot would be needed, Delta would take it. He got this idea from the movie “Office Space”. On this act of passive-aggressiveness he was confronted…multiple times…and angrily. Each time, Delta played innocent and claimed to have no knowledge of the schedule of comings and goings. And, then, he’d immediately offer to go move the vehicles to make amends. And, as he walked away, he’d sing “Everybody Knows…

His antics were probably juvenile. The passive aggressive actions should have gotten him into trouble. In the end, though, Delta remembered a passage of text from The Art of War about knowing when to fight and when not to fight. Too, he realized that discretion is the better part of valor. His actions never made a difference. No amount of pranks and practical jokes, however dastardly, were ever going to change anything. So, he disengaged and withdrew.

Occasionally, though, he continued to secretly and privately and deviously and mischievously contemplate how he would get even.

The story of Delta and The Agency continues…

Advertisements