This week, we hope you will enjoy your first day on the new job with Rachelle Cruz’ “Office Auntie,” who warmly introduces you to your new workplace, and its unusual tasks. ~ Julian and Fran, June 11, 2023
By Rachelle Cruz
Look, I don’t just let anyone call me Auntie. But you’re a temp, and you’ll be gone before you know it, so I’m okay with being your temporary relative.
Don’t tell anyone else, they get jealous. No need to mince words. Your expiration date is in the job title.
Welcome to Phil’s Remittances #XR256.
And no, I don’t want to talk about the accident. That’s all anyone who first lands here wants to dish about. You can watch the outpost news feeds, sponsored by Phil’s News and Antics, but it’s ancient history.
I know you were hired to work in the Archives, but we’ll get to the workload in a minute, okay, Temp?
I give the best tours of the office because I get the boring stuff out of the way first. A brief overview: here are the bathrooms, the break room, the regular cubes, the window offices (you’ll want to avoid those), the copy room, you know, your basic, standard-operating office on the outpost.
Phil’s people ordered this office’s construction right in conjunction with the portraitists’ work on the inaugural monument. You know the one, the “Phil’s Girl” logo that lives on the surface of each of his outposts. The portraitists and workers sent their earnings back to their families on Earth or elsewhere here from this very office.
It should’ve gone as planned, like any one of his other offices. Phil’s logo done in a week flat. The welcome banner comes first, he’d said about the construction of his growing network. They look at her and forget all their troubles. And next are the remittance offices because that’s what keeps these outposts humming along. He meant that’s how the cash flows in and out of these places. Keeps the workers’ babies back at home fed. Dehydrators working. Hospital and tuition bills paid.
The portraitists were well-paced to finish in time. They’d carved the contours of “Phil’s Girl’s” bowl-cut bangs and her deep-set eyes . . . but you know, the infamous accident.
Fine, I’ll give you the lowdown so you’ll quit asking me. Better to hear it from me than from anyone else here. My colleagues weren’t there, and they’d no doubt serve you up some basura about what happened. The portraitists didn’t get to the signature gleam on her cherubic cheeks, what Phil calls the “light of possibility.” What he says is his reason for everything—building his brand and his family, repurposing carceral labor, and establishing his legacy in space.
Now this is the statue that memorializes that accident, chiseled from clay and silicate. It’s a miniature rendering of “Phil’s Girl” if the portrait were, in fact, finished on time . . . and if all of those people didn’t die. This projection overlapping the bottom half of the statue is archival footage. She’s only five right here, covering a giggle with a hand and squinting a smile at whomever is recording. See how the footage completes what wasn’t finished.
The portraitists’ names aren’t written anywhere near the memorial, but I’ve got them etched in my memory. But let’s move on from the lobby and stop dwelling on the dead. Bursts of light fray my vision when I look too long at the statue.
Phil was nostalgic for office buildings like this. Can you imagine? Nostalgic for fluorescent lighting that nettles at your concentration and manila envelopes that slice your hands open. The monied are strange like that. What they’re really nostalgic for is magazine covers emblazoned with their faces and names, the aspirational Top 100. The box-and-grid style isn’t really my thing—in fact, this entire outpost just isn’t . . . ideal but then there’s the work. The work makes it all worth it, doesn’t it?
That’s what they want us to say, yeah?
Pay no mind to these papers, they wave and rustle from time to time, but that’s what they do, and it’s none of your business.
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