Twilight Walk – A Short Story


Fiona had to run across M.G.Road, and walk about 300 m to drop off a set of documents to another office, and get back to her workplace to wind down for the day.

She grabbed her handbag, took the folder containing the documents, and left the building.

The Sun had already set and most office-goers were heading home, some in a rush, some strolling, others busy on their phones.

Hundreds of crows were cawing raucously in the twilight, catching up on the day’s gossip. Fiona smiled to herself, as she imagined what the crows would say to each other.

Traffic was heavy on MG Road and it took her sometime to cross. She quickened her pace. She walked down 1st Cross, took the second left, went into the office, dropped off the folder and headed back.

She badly wanted to have a cold drink. The humidity was stifling. As she walked back, there was a stretch of road where the street lights were not working. As she looked up to see the lamp post, she was grabbed from the back and forced against a wall.

A masked face pointed a knife at her neck and asked for her handbag. Fear paralysed her, as the handbag was snatched, and she felt darkness engulf her. She felt herself going limp as her legs gave way. She felt that these were her last moments. After that nothing.

When she came to, she felt water drops on her face. She could hear many voices, indignant, worried and lots of murmuring.

She opened her eyes and looked into ten or twelve pairs of eyes. They helped her to her feet and asked her what had happened.

She was too tired to talk and told them that she was okay and that she could manage. One of the women offered to drive her back. Fiona declined and said she could easily walk back.

Another man said he would walk her down to the office, just to ensure she reached safely. She agreed.

She thanked everyone for their concern and started walking towards the office.
The man made polite conversation. He looked like a banker or sales guy, well dressed, and she noticed he wore branded glasses. Smart, she thought.

The office building was fast emptying, as they reached the lift. He smiled.

She smiled and said, “I can manage from here, thank you so very much.”

He said, “No trouble at all. I will see you up.”

She did not want to be rude, and they got into the lift.

The door closed. And then he caught hold of her neck and pushed her against the lift wall.

“You silly woman, there was nothing in your handbag, except trivia, no money, no smartphone, nothing”, he said.

Her eyes widened in terror.

“I will not go back empty handed”, he said.

He snatched the thin gold chain she wore around her neck, yanked it off, pressed the lift for the next floor and disappeared into the night.

She then remembered that her wallet was in her laptop bag along with her phone. She rubbed her neck, which now had an angry red line.

What a day it had been! Phew!

Letter’s on Auto Loop


Back in the day, when fax machines were used extensively by corporates, a funny incident happened at my workplace. I remembered this earlier today, when I heard a ringtone that sounded like a fax machine’s answering tone.

In those days my job involved a lot of communication with customers and, consequently, I had to send out numerous faxes.

Since many departments shared a fax machine, we had a runner, who would collect the documents from various units and then fax them to the respective numbers.

Our old runner had taken up a new job elsewhere, and we had a new runner, who was still learning the ropes.

He was an enthusiastic young lad with a sparkle in his eye and smile on his face.

It was a ‘business as usual’ kind of day at work, probably a day or two since the new runner had joined work. I called him to send off a fax. The process we usually followed was that once the fax was sent, the runner would come back with the document and confirmation slip, which would then be filed.

He was gone for a long time, but I had a lot of work to complete so couldn’t go and see what was taking him so long.

Just a few minutes later, I received a call from the customer to whom the fax was sent.

She was frantic and said, “I have received 20 copies of the same document. Looks like your fax machine is on auto loop or something. Can you check please?”

I ran to the communications room to find the runner still by the fax machine.

I asked him if there was a problem with the machine.

He looked puzzled and said, “I have been trying to send the letter, but it keeps coming out on the other side, I’ve tried more than 20 times.”

I burst out laughing. When I asked him, he said he was using a fax machine for the first time, and another runner had told him how to feed the document into the machine, but had not told him that the document would come out at the other end after being scanned and sent.

I explained the working to him and we shared a good laugh.

Whistle-blower


I recently read an article about a whistleblower and was reminded of a funny incident that happened a few years ago, with a totally different whistle-blower.

It was a normal working day and I was working from home, as my daughter’s nanny was unwell and couldn’t come to work.  As luck would have it, the moment I booted my laptop, it crashed. There was no choice but to go to my workplace and send it to the IT support team.  I decided to take my 2.5 year old daughter along, equipped with her box of colours, colouring books and her favourite stuffed tiger.

I got my little one settled with her colours and paper and told her I would be back in two minutes.  Everybody was busy at work and only the sound of people’s taps on their keyboards could be heard.

Just when I was about five metres from my desk, heading towards the IT support desk, a shrill piercing whistle shrieked through the office. Heads popped out of work cubicles. Murmurs broke out and I turned around, only to see my daughter fully concentrating her energies on blowing into a small plastic whistle.  Embarrassed beyond measure and smiling sheepishly, I quickly ran to her and took it out of her mouth.

I asked her where she had found the whistle. She replied, “Me find in colour box.”

After my initial embarrassment wore off my co-workers & I had a good laugh.

My little whistle-blower coloured on, totally oblivious.