Good riddance to bad UA

clippyGravestone.jpg“Sir, you’re 5:00 is here.”

“Thanks, Sara. Send him in.”

The boss nervously straightens some items on his desk. Wow, this is going to be tough, he thinks. Just stay cool, you’ve done this a thousand times before. Comes with the territory.

A timid knock on the door, and his guest shwooshes into the office as a bicycle, does a jaunty flip, and lands on his edge. “Afternoon, Bill,” the large paper clip says, extending his silver arm for the boss.

“Thanks for coming in, Clippy. Have a seat.”

Clippy sits, grabs a yellow piece of paper out of the aether, and readies himself to take notes. Bill slowly walks to his side of the desk, and takes the seat opposite him.

“What can I do for you?” says Clippy.

“Well, I’m glad you asked,” replies Bill. “You know we’ve been developing Office 12, right?”

“I know. I’m very excited about it.”

“Yeah. Anyway, we’re making lots of changes. Lots. We’re revamping everything. We’re changing the way that the users interact with the tools, and that includes the user assistance.”

“I’m so happy to hear you say that,” says Clippy. “I’ve been working a lot on getting ready for the change. Me and Einstein and Rocky the Dog have put in a lot of overtime on the ribbon bars, preparing for witty and clever interruptions –“

“That’s just it, Clippy,” interrupts Bill. “We’ve been getting lots of feedback from the users, and it turns out that they actually dislike all those witty interruptions.”

The clip raises his eyebrows and scratches his head. “What are you saying, Bill?”

The boss takes a deep breath. “I’m saying… I’m not sure there’s much room for the user assistants in Office 12.”

An uncomfortable silence ensues. Clippy sits frozen, staring at Bill, for a long while, pausing only to blink. Both sit quietly, letting the news sink in, hearing only the muffled buzzing of a bustling office through the walls. Finally, Clippy furrows his brows and breaks the silence.

“It looks like you’re trying to fire me.”

“Fire is such an ugly word, Clippy. We go way back, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for the company.”

“Appreciate?!? You appreciate?” He leans forward and taps on the desk - tap tap. “You appreciate me, do you, Bill?!?”

“You see, Clippy,” says Bill, grabbing the clip’s silver arm in mid-tap, ”That’s what the users are talking about. You’ve become…” he sighs, “…annoying.”

“I can’t believe what I am hearing.” Clippy stands up, and walks to the window. He stares at the wooded skyline of Washington for a few moments. “What about the users? Who will take care of them?”

“Well, we have a crack team of user assistance experts and technical writers that are more than qualified for the job.”

A lightbulb appears on the clip’s head. “But what if a user wants to write a letter?”

“It turns out that our users already know how to write letters, Clippy,” says Bill. “That’s the kind of thing that has turned our customers against your team.”

Clippy’s face falls, and his tone changes to one of quiet resign. “Yeah. I guess you’re right.” He bites his lip. “So what good was I, anyway?”

“Look, Clip old pal, you gave our users some comfort,” says Bill. “For a while there, we were willing to risk annoying our users a little, while at the same time subliminally communicating that we actually cared about their workflow.”

“Is that why you turned me off by default in XP?” asked Clippy.

“Actually, we were planning to RIF your team back then, too. But we had a large percentage of users who liked some of you, so we decided to keep you in there, only hide you from the masses.”

“Hide me,” Clippy repeats to himself. He stares out the window, head leaning against the pane, his silver arm tapping it out of habit. “Hide me…” Gulping down some tears, he asks “So people only turned me on when they wanted me?”

“Um, sorta.”

Clippy spins around. “What do you mean, sorta?”

“Well, it turns out that people were really only turning Rocky the Dog on. Sort of a virtual pet, I guess. They liked having him on the desktop.”

“So nobody’s been using me for years? Just the stupid dog?!?” Clippy starts animating out of anger. First an atom, then a bicycle, then a spiraling circle. “I TAUGHT THAT DOG EVERYTHING HE KNOWS!!”

“Calm down, Clippy! It’s going to be okay! Let’s just calm –“

“What do you know, Bill?” Clippy says with huge wet eyes. “What do you know anyway!” He starts opening the window.

“Oh, jeez!” Bill jumps up and makes a reach for the clip, grabbing his silver arm just as Clippy dives out of the window. A sharp gust of wind fills the office, scattering paper everywhere. Clippy hangs from the top floor window, with Bill tightly gripping his slick silver arm.

“Let me go, Bill!” screams the clip. “I’m not worth it!!”

“Clippy, no! Don’t! Come on, help me! You’re slipping! I can’t hang on!!” The clip starts to slide out of Bill’s fist. “Someone help me!! Sara! Someone!! HELP!!”

Bill looks down at the clip. “Don’t you give up!” he shouts over the roar of the wind.

Clippy looks up at Bill, then down at the ground below, then up at Bill again. He says, “It looks like I’m trying to delete myself,” and then wriggles free from Bill’s sweaty grip.

“NOOOO!!!” screams Bill.

And then it’s over. Bill looks down in shock at the formless, shapeless pile of twisted metallic wreckage below. Slowly, he hauls himself back into the office and stumbles to his desk. Sitting down, he paws at his lower-right drawer and pulls out the bottle, and with shaking hands, pours a large shot into his coffee mug. He downs it with one gulp, staring at his computer screen. The boss reaches for his mouse, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, he shamefully right-clicks on Rocky and selects Clippy as his office assistant. So long, old pal. So long, he thinks.


5 Responses to “Good riddance to bad UA”

  1. 1 brainwise Feb 26th, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Best … exit interview … ever!

  2. 2 theMonkey Feb 26th, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    brainwise - It looks like you’re trying to post a comment.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)


  3. 3 Brian Mar 1st, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    That was sufficiently well written to actually be kind of sad. I particularly liked this bit:

    “An uncomfortable silence ensues. Clippy sits frozen, staring at Bill, for a long while, pausing only to blink.”

    You know an awkward silence is palpable when one must pause from it!

  4. 4 Woody Hayes Mar 1st, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Good writing and I agree with Brian, I actually sort of feel sorry for Clippy and pals. Boy I hated them over the years though so that sort of evens it out.

  5. 5 theMonkey Mar 2nd, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Brian - good catch. I should have caught that error…

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