Home > World-Building > Day Two Hundred and Seven: Desk Jockey

Day Two Hundred and Seven: Desk Jockey

For the month of December, I’ll be world-building. This means taking a look at the people, places, and institutions that I have created over the last six months and trying to figure out more about them. This will involve a look at the stories in which they’ve appeared, and then some speculation, stream-of-consciousness writing, and with any luck a few revelations. In addition, I may come back and add new material as the Elves in my unconscious ship out new ideas, so I’ll be sure to link them up.

Your feedback as readers is, of course, more than welcome. There are probably questions that I’m forgetting to ask and holes that I need to fill.

Wish me luck!


Time to do another character sketch, and this time the Randomizer has given us character number 361: Tod Piskel. You might be asking yourself, “Who?” Well, we saw Tod way back on day 13 in the story Star-Crossed, which famously introduced Cerbecorp to the world. So if you don’t remember him, I don’t blame you.

Let’s see what the story tells us about him:

  • He has his own office.
  • He’s working on some kind of power distribution system.
  • He has something of a crush on Justine Sekigawa, a woman who works in Marketing.
  • He has thinning hair.
  • He bites his nails.
  • He went to the company-mandated sexual harassment seminar. He is acutely aware of the dangers of sexual harassment to his career and reputation.
  • He works in R&D as an engineer.

From all that, we can infer a few things. First of all, he must be a Person of Significance if he can have his own office. There’s a cube farm just outside, so it’s likely that Tod is management to some degree, yet he can not only talk confidently about the research they’re doing – he can explain it to a layperson. So Tod has something of a teacher in him, an ability to make information accessible to non-specialists. I think he rose through the ranks at the company, proving his worth and his ability, and has finally landed the management job that he thinks will give him some real chances to make a difference.

He seems like he would be a good manager, actually: he is working in his field, he’s been where his subordinates are, organizationally speaking, and he is acutely aware of the importance of roles and boundaries. It’s pretty clear that he’s attracted to Justine, but he spends most of the story trying to push those feelings away and be the person she came in to talk to – the engineer. That he finally asks her out for dinner is a big step for him. Not just because she’s kind of intimidating, but because asking her out violates the roles that they have agreed to play in the company. She, of course, reinforces the importance of roles, as she says, “I’m in Marketing, Tod. You’re an engineer. It would never work.”

So I think he’s the kind of person who sticks to the role he’s adopted, and isn’t all that comfortable breaking out of it. Truth be told, when I finished that story I thought that his decision to finally ask her out seemed a little too abrupt. It really didn’t seem like something he would do, and to make it more believable I should explore why Justine is so important to him that he would finally make the attempt to change their relationship.

Just as a note, by the way – I’m surprised that I haven’t gotten comments from people saying that the technobabble I put in the story doesn’t make sense. Because really, it doesn’t. I haven’t the first clue what the machine he’s describing does or how it works. I did double-check a few technical terms, but that’s about it. Not quite Star Trek levels of making shit up, but close.

All in all, I think Tod is a good character, but an unfinished one – mainly because I can’t think of a whole lot of storylines to explore with him. The best one I could think of was a story where he was forced to break out of the “manager” character that he’d constructed for himself. And of course there’s always the “low-level manager discovers a horrible secret” option. Like, say, that the head of the company is very nearly dead and has been so for years…

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