Being of a Forewarning Thrice Given

Below is a sample story from All of It Volume 1 (purchase the physical volume here)

John just woke up. It’s lighter outside than it should be when he wakes up, which mean it’s late, which means he’ll be late. For work. Oh brother. He squints, confused. No alarm? Did he turn it off in his unconscious sleep? He checks it. No. The alarm switch was set one click past radio. Off – Buzzer – Radio – Silent.

“Silent?” What good is that?

He didn’t even know his alarm clock had a silent mode. Had he read the instruction manual it would have advised him:

Silent is handy if you need to get up early, but don’t really want to, so when you arrive late to the work, you have an excuse. Say, for example, to the boss, “I set my alarm, don’t know what happened Boss. Oh, and the dog ate my report too.”

John sat there a moment, soaking in the gravity of the situation. Now he couldn’t lay in bed and think about how much he just wanted to go back to sleep and not go to work. There wasn’t any time for fooling around. No room in the schedule for delay. No dilly dallying. John had to get up, that’s all there was to it.

All right Okay.


John’s standing now, but remains tired. He looks back at the clock which confirms he’s still running late. He needs to make up some time. Can’t fool around, must be quick. He grabs his pants standing up and puts on the first leg, his right. It slides right in, like he’s been doing it all his life.

The second doesn’t go in as smoothly, just off target, his left foot a bit stuck in the works of the pants. Blurry-eyed John shifts on his right foot, successfully remaining balanced and standing.

He pulls back his left leg to build up a little momentum. Again he stabs his leg towards daylight! But falters. Stumbling, balance wavering on only the one foot, panic sets in. He finds himself in a critical moment. A third failed attempt will certainly send John tumbling to the floor. His hands awkwardly trying to pull up his pants as he falls, he’ll have no means to brace himself. Impact will split his skull. A lethal blow.

Cause of death: Couldn’t put on pants.

So it goes, one might say.

Not yet though! Not today death. The third attempt at the left leg is the proverbial charm. So fluidly did he slip on the remaining half of his pants on that last attempt that it made the first two efforts look as though he was merely hamming it up for dramatic purposes. Working the crowd for applause.

Oh John! He never fails to entertain.

But it hadn’t been that. John was putting forth his full effort to put on a pair of pants. His full able-bodied professional-adult effort. He breathed heavy, shook his head, and gently massaged the bridge of his nose.

John put on his socks sitting down.


John’s at work now, well, the lobby anyway. Late, but thanks to a string of green lights, within a fuzzy margin of acceptability. He only needs to swiftly get to his desk.

His building has four floors. There’s an elevator, but really people don’t need to use it as much as they do. ‘You can’t climb one flight of stairs?’ John wonders at their slovenliness. Why not let all the people working on the upper floors use the elevator. Let the lower floor folks just walk.

“Where is the elevator?” John says aloud to no one but himself as the lobby is empty. The elevator is probably hung up on the second floor, he figures. “Oh.” He hadn’t pressed the button yet. The elevator didn’t even know he was there. He pressed the button.

Nothing. The elevator wasn’t waiting for him. John returns to his previous assumption; the folks on the second floor are holding it up. Probably holding the door open too. He can almost hear the buzzer beeping from the shaft; John’s almost sure of it. He looked at his watch — it didn’t know when the doors would open.

Should he walk up? Walk up the stairs? Ugh. John pushed the elevator button again – it remained lit, but did nothing else. Again he looked at his watch, but it still had no guidance. He’d have to walk. Ugh, the stairs.


Breathing too heavily from the two story climb, John doesn’t consider how he could benefit from more regular cardio exercise. Nor does he think how it does him no good to criticize others for not doing what he himself is unwilling to do. No, he was thinking about how he was starting to sweat.

John scans the floor looking for his boss. He doesn’t see him.

However, the guy that always wants to talk about television commercials is there. The loud talking guy is too. The cougher (seemingly incapable of covering their mouth) is, no surprise, coughing. The guy with all the toys on his desk isn’t in yet (at least John wasn’t the last to arrive). The fella that always needed to hitch up his pants (but never did) was there, but not at his station. The guy that says seriously too much? He’s seriously getting some coffee.

Not in their cubicles, mind you. John remembers when people used to complain about cubicles. Oh, what fools they had been. John would kill for a cubicle. There were no cubicles at his office. Just workstations.

Ha! Workstations! Better not complain about those. You might come in one day and the office will be set up like high-school. Just a chair with that little desktop attached. Everyone working in neat little rows with their own three and one half square feet of space.

John moved quickly to his station.

The work he hadn’t finished was still there. He turned on his computer. John looked at it, slack mouthed, scratching his head. Had he overcome all the day had thrown at him just to come to work and do work? He looked out the window – it was overcast. Blah. Then John opened up his work email. Seventeen unread message?!

Seventeen right at the start. He knew there would be more. People always sent him work emails during the work day. Asking for help, asking to do something, asking him to work.

‘Maybe someone will bring in cookies?’

Maybe. Still have to do work though . . .

Then the toy guy came in and on came the little Darth Vader toy. It was Darth’s heavy breathing – probably not a guy who climbed too many stairs. John shook his head. Always, always, always – the toy guy had to play those noises every Monday morning.

The second round of mechanical breathing did it. John had an epiphany.


John’s epiphany:

The alarm clock did not have a silent mode, it had a prescience mode. John should still be in bed. His pants tried to concuss him to avoid this ill-lit space. Shoot! Even the elevator had presented a thrice-given warning. And what had he done?

He’d walked up the stairs to get to that place!

John grabbed a post-it note and on it wrote, “working from home”. He stuck it on his monitor and left for home. He didn’t plan on doing much work there, but honestly, he’d be just about as productive.

Read another sample here, or purchase the entire physical volume here.