I'm writing from a Motel 6 (Official Hotel Chain of the Ascendancy, mind you) in Atlanta. Had to drive down here to pick up PePe, who was released yesterday from the Centers for Disease Control. Well, I didn't have to drive: we could have flown him up to New England, but flying's been a bitch for Phutatorius & Co. lately (see "Stupid $@* No-Fly List!," Dec. 2, 2005). And I wanted to show my Piper some love: he did, after all, have to spend forty days getting pin-stuck by government nurses under fluorescent lamps.
PePe doesn't seem much the worse off for the experience. His illness left some pock marks on his face, but I've told him half-kidding, of course that we'll just ask the sculptors to chisel some updates into the busts and statues I've commissioned for the world's major cities.
PePe tells me he thinks his diplomatic foray into Yali territory went pretty well. There's a bit of a divide among the tribal elders re how I fit into their Prophecy. I'm putting together a presentation that I think will make an authoritative case; PePe says the elders have a retreat planned for mid-May, and I hope to have my pitch together by them. The problem is I'm accustomed to working in PowerPoint, and it's not clear to me they'll have teleconferencing at this retreat. I mean, if you already live in the wilderness as part of a hunter-gatherer society, where do you go when you want to "get away from distractions?" Seems to me you could go either way: to a prime hotel in The Big City, or to an Even More Remote Location that doesn't even have electricity, much less the sort of communications infrastructure that would enable me to run slides from one hundred and forty time zones away.
Logistics aside, though, the point is that the Yali are willing to listen. If I can get them to buy in, that's one society I can dominate without even striking a blow. And who knows? Maybe they can fight.
As for PePe, he used up all his sick time + ten personal days while he was in quarantine. I could make allowances for him, but what kind of message would that send to the rest of The Staff? If he can show me he was working during some of this down time, I'll set it off against his out-of-office totals. Absent that, my dedicated and diligent Piper will just have to settle for winning April's "Employee of the Month" award and the much-coveted $50 gift certificate to Chili's that comes with it.
Here's to you, PePe: Piper, Sidekick, Emissary, Trouper. Let's get you back home.