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Days To Go - a novel of exotica, cough syrup, and the dotcom meltdown
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Yes, I know that the text is all run together; I apologize for the inconvenience and eyestrain. This was NOT intentional, my Sitebuilder software is acting up, and it'll be fixed soon.

Part 1 - 5 Months Ago - February 2-01-01 - Gina, Annie, and Carmen "I feel like--I mean, I'm just--I can't believe, well I guess I can, but I'm--it's so..." Gina gave up on censoring herself; she didn't really want to be on the news anyway. "I feel like shit," she said sincerely. "OK, let's cut. We're not going to be able to use that," the reporter from Channel 4 said, eyeing Gina a tad accusingly. "Well, sorry," Gina said. "I don1t feel like talking right now. Try them," she said, gesturing at whoever was behind her without looking. Unfortunately for the small TV crew, out of the couple hundred employees milling around, Neo was behind her. Gina saw he'd shaved his head in the last couple of days. Nearly everyone in the department bought their pot-- or other drug of choice, the word was that he had quite a good selection-- from him. Neo, of course, was not his birth name, but over half the employees at Tunes.com went by nicknames. He spoke with a quiet fury, starting in before the woman even got two words into how do you feel about the layoff at Tunes.com? "Hey. Wanna know how they did it? Imagine sitting at your desk, minding your own business, then getting an email there1s a mandatory meeting in 15 minutes, at this hotel. I ask my supervisor if this is it, he says no way, it's probably nothing, might even be good news. Other managers say the same thing." Neo leaned closer to the microphone. "You shoulda seen the looks on their faces when they announce they're shutting down the whole customer service site in Seattle, and June 1st is our last day. We get like 4 minutes after that, no questions allowed, then they boot us out of the building and tell us to go home for the day." Neo stopped to take a breath. "Shove some papers at us at the door and say there'll be an informational meeting later. This is after we all busted our asses through the holidays, trying to keep up, working mandatory 50 hour weeks because we're understaffed. You know why they sent us home? Not out of kindness, but 'cause they didn't want any of us talking to customers in the mood we're in." Gina had assumed they were sent home with pay out of concern for their feelings. Shows what I know, she thought as she turned and walked across the slate plaza outside the Sheraton towards Annie. It was a beautiful day, unseasonably warm; the breeze smelled more of freshly-mown glass than smog. Gina imagined this scene taking place in a movie: soon someone would say, Well, we may have got laid off, but look at the bright side. At least it's not raining. Then, a thunderclap would roar overhead and rain would pour down, drenching everyone in seconds. Gina wended her way around several clusters of her coworkers, catching snatches of conversation. "...you KNOW they had this planned since, like, November at the..." "This makes sense, no wonder they didn't replace..." "...any of the bars are open before like 3, or..." Gina saw Annie standing, arms folded, among couple of other reps who were listening to Toni, who was whacking her rolled up manilla envelope into the palm of her left hand to emphasize her points. Annie's auburn bangs bobbed as she nodded grimly. "Hey," Annie said when they made eye contact, smiling weakly. Annie's interview had lasted exactly one word: "Unfuckingbeleiveable." Then she had shaken her head, walked off, and the woman had turned to Gina to ask for her feelings on the layoff announcement.

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