The morning routine, pronounced usually with an emphatic 'rut-een' in the minds of most of the workers, settled in with the traditional rush of the coffee machine's dispensation of the morning's necessary allotment of stimulation mixed with refreshing mocha, the earnest creak of asses taking up residence in their appointed desk-chairs, and the unprotesting hum of monitors and terminals as they too were sped into their own awakenings. Fingers twitched with the false anticipation of trying to remember the passwords they'd inputted only yesterday.
Someone entered his first dog's name.
Another entered her birthdate.
Another entered her favourite football team's mascot.
Another entered in sequence the name of his wife, son, and daughter, compressed into a 12-character response.
Yet another typed in his favourite Godzilla movie (simply and perhaps a bit unimaginatively, 'Godzilla' out of reverence for the Japanese original).
Yet another rapidly entered in the name of a certain game show host, whose image was brought to mind whenever she attended to the intimate needs of her boyfriend. The conditioned response of this always made her hips shiver, and nobody could see into the cubicle to wonder why she would lick her lips and pout her jaw with heavy breath.
Another entered an alpha-neumeric sequence that contained the maximum allowed number of characters for any permissible password. The illusion of unbreakable security that this gave was unbroken by the fact that it was so complicated that it had to be copied from a sticky-note attached to his monitor, helpfully prefaced with the heading “Password:”.
Another entered his mother's maiden name.
Another entered, with a dreamy look on his face, the song that had been playing when he'd lost his virginity, a rather unplanned venture involving a shuffled CD-changer that had happened upon his little sister's boy-band best-of. The dreamy look was nothing if not guilty.
Another entered the name of his patron Saint.
Another entered her dream car's make and model.
The entire floor had progressed from a trickle of keyboard clicks from the chicken-typing lot whose newness was further announced by a refusal to plunge into coffee addiction, instead heading to their desks with an enthusiasm and desperation to make impressions that in itself would achieve the end of its life-span in a matter of weeks. Now, the steady resonance of inputs poured freely, an avalanche of the speed-typing veterans whose pupils firmly moulded into the picture of caffeinated concentration.
Only one man still sat at his desk, oblivious to the city-enveloping sun that shone through one of the few windows. The one man who knew without error each of his floor workers' memoir, coveted as it had been to be the first willed recollection in the morning rut-een. It was a window into each character, compressed into a 5-20 character appreciation. Just as well they reminded themselves what they were working for, why they were here, imprisoned as much by their contractual obligations as by their earnest desires for their passions-- their passwords. Individual, unique, and binding. Employee identification, employee identity.
And he alone would scrutinize them wordlessly. He would keep track of whether they would be kept in line by their dedication, or fall into unproductive distraction. His task, and his job: the watcher, the voyeur, the man who made it his work to oversee.
The monitor flashed, demanding his input.