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Jeff Gerstenfeld

"Hey, did I ever tell you about how I got laid off from my life?" Joey Humphries asked his female partner Shirley. Shirley looked back at him attentively with her soft brown eyes, but as usual, did not respond.
"Everything was going so great before it happened. A decent position as a systems engineer for a successful high-tech firm, a nice car, decent apartment, reasonably active social life, and then--boom! It happens.

Here I am getting out of the bathroom after my morning shower, wearing nothing but my fuzzy green bathrobe, when there's this greasy looking guy standing in front of me dressed all in white and carrying a gold clipboard. 'Who the hell are you?' I ask him. So he answers me in this deep, booming voice, 'Hell has nothing to do with it--at least, not as this stage. The Boss wants to see you in his office.' And then I see this glowing white door suddenly appear in back of this creep, like right in the middle of my bedroom. The door's got this sign on it that says THE BOSS.

Now I'm just standing there like some kind of idiot, and I don't believe a single thing I'm seeing. Then this guy gets an angry look on his face and points to this door or portal or whatever the hell it was, and says 'NOW' in such a loud voice, I'll tell you, it made the walls shake. And then this door sort of opens up all by itself, and this bright light's coming out of it, and I feel myself walking towards it, but it's like not me doing it. It's like I'm being forced to walk through this door. And all I'm thinking now is how come I didn't take my sunglasses, cause that light was so bright I could hardly see.

"So I walk through the door and I guess I'm in some sort of room or something cause I can sort of see these white walls around me. In the middle of the room I thought I could see a big desk with a chair in front of it and somebody big sitting behind this desk, but I could only see his outline, cause the light was so bright. 'Come in, sit down,' this big guy said with a voice so booming that it made the first guy's voice seem like a whisper. And then, boom, I'm sitting on the chair facing this guy, but I still can't really see him.

"I'm really scared by now, and this guy starts talking. 'Joey,' he says, 'the world is going through particularly hard economic times, and we've had to do a painful reorganization. I'm sorry, but we're going to have to let you go.'
'We're going to have to lay you off--'
'--from your life.'
"Now my head is really screwed up by now. I'm sweating and breathing heavy, and I don't believe this is really happening. 'Bu-bu-bu-but why me?' I stutter.

'It's nothing personal, I can assure you. You've been a very productive individual. We've just had to let a certain number of people go, and unfortunately, you'll have to be one of them,' he answers in what was intended to be a sympathetic voice. Relatively speaking, of course.
"I'm just sitting there shaking my head like an idiot, trying to let this all sink in.
'Do you have any more questions?' he asks.

"Then I feel my mind is finally starting to work again. 'Do I, like, go to heaven now?' I ask, realizing afterwards how moronic that might have seemed.
'No, it's too early. Human souls can't join the afterlife until they're reached retirement age,' he answers.

'When's that?' I ask.
'Sixty-five. And you're only twenty-six, so I'm afraid you're going to have to wait for a while,' he tells me.
'Wait? Where?' I ask him, now even more confused than before.
'In Limbo, together with all the rest,' he answers. And then this big gold door opens off to my left and I can see a bunch of people on the other side sort of walking around aimlessly, and they don't look too happy.
'But I like my life,' I start to protest.

'I'm sorry, you can't return to it. In fact, you can't go back to being a human at all. Like I told you, we've had to cut back. There are no human transfer positions available now. But if you'd like, we can check whether we can assign you to a different position,' he explains slowly.

'Huh?' was the most intelligent response I could come up with under the circumstances.
'--as an animal,' He concludes. And then, next thing I know I'm over there in the big Limbo room with all these other unhappy people, and the big gold door slams itself shut.

"Now these unhappy people, they come in all sizes and shapes, colors and ages. And they're all bitching about why they were specifically chosen to be downsized from the human race.
'It's a clear case of age discrimination. I was only six years away from retirement. What kind of position can I find now?' asks this old guy.

'No, it's race discrimination,' says this black guy.
"No, it's sexual discrimination,' says this woman who's so ugly that I don't think she ever had the occasion of learning what the word actually meant.
'No, they went after the guys with high salaries,' says this guy wearing an expensive navy blue suit along with a really disgusting pink tie.

'No, they went after the computer programmers,' says this guy with a squeaky little voice. And about twenty-thirty other guys with squeaky little voices agreed with him.
"So to make a long story sort, I spend the next week or so pacing up and down the Limbo room with all these other unhappy people and their constant bitching, until suddenly this gold door appears out of nowhere and the greasy looking guy dressed all in white and carrying a gold clipboard calls out my name.
'What?' I answer.

'A representative from Personnel wants to talk to you in room thirty-two thousand, five hundred fifty-three.'
'Someone from Human Resources?' I ask optimistically.
'No,' he replies, and smirks. 'Animal resources.'

"Next thing I know I'm in room thirty-two thousand, five hundred fifty-three sitting in front of a good natured young lady who could be regarded as being exceptionally attractive except for her horns, tail, and cloven hoofs. And her hairy paws. And fangs. And bad breath. But after spending a week with all these bitchy people, it was a relief to finally see a person smile. Even if she wasn't exactly what you'd call a human person.

'I think we may have a position available for you, if you'll agree to take it,' she says. Well, she sort of says. Actually it sounded more like a low growl. But sexy, in its own sort of way.
'A human position?' I ask innocently.
'Na-ah,' she answers. 'Animal. But they told me you were willing to consider a career move.'
'Yeah, I guess so,' I respond.

'You don't have anything against animals, do you?' she asks, seductively wagging her long, sleek tail. I thought I could hear her purring.
'No, not at all," I tell her with a smile.
'Good,' she smiles back. 'Now how would you like to be a rabbit?'
'A rabbit? Yeah, I like rabbits. Okay.'
'But you'll have to commit yourself to remaining in that position for at least eighteen months before you can request a transfer.'

'Can I request to be a human again?' I ask her.
'Yes, but I can't say whether any human positions will be available at that time. It's pretty doubtful. You'll probably have to either remain a rabbit or see if any other animal positions become available,' she answers.
'Can I stay a rabbit, the same rabbit, until I reach retirement age?' I ask her.
'Not really,' she replies. 'Rabbits don't live past ten years or so. You'll have to return to Limbo or try to find a new position when that happens.'

'Okay, what the hell? When do I start?' I ask.
'Are you ready now?' she asks.

"I barely have time to respond, 'yeah,' when--boom! Here I am with you and all these other bunnies at this petting zoo. Hell, I don't even know where this zoo is!
Shirley Bunny kept looking at Joey Rabbit throughout his story, as if she really understood something, although Joey knew that this was definitely not the case.
"You have no idea what I just told you, do you?" he asked her.
Shirley did not respond.

"You know, I don't really mind being a rabbit after all," Joey continued. "You get used to the food pretty quickly. You don't have to do any work, and the social life--damn! I never got this much action when I was a human, that's for sure! And you never have to take care of the kids, or to give them all names, or even count how many you've fathered."

"But I still miss a couple of things," Joey mused. "I miss watching football games. And I miss beer. Hell, I even miss root beer. And I miss not having hands. Hands are fun. You can do a lot with a pair of hands. Yeah, being a rabbit is OK, but it's just so damned boring!"
"Here he goes bitching again," said a particularly mousy looking rabbit with a squeaky little voice who was feeding nearby.
"Yeah, why don't you just shut up once in a while?" said an even stranger looking bunny in his squeaky little voice.

"Yeah," about twenty-thirty other squeaky little voices chimed in.
"And you're always hogging all the good carrot tops," bitched the mousy looking rabbit.
"Damn!" thought Joey, "I can put up with these deaf-mute mindless rabbits, but spending another ten years with all these bitching programmers is just too much.
"Maybe I can request another transfer...

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