Joe wasn’t all that great of a guy, but we all liked him okay, so when he left for his usual Wednesday lunch to the coffee shop across the way, we all sprang into action.

I was the lookout, which was fine because I wasn’t very active anyway, and everyone else ran around the office putting streamers over the exposed rafters, and putting signs up on the walls. Joe’s cubicle got the worst of it - it was packed with balloons that someone was hiding in a nondescript box in the back. I don’t know how they expect him to get any work done for the rest of the day - but then again I suspect that no one expected him to get any work done anyway.

It was hard enough to get him to come in for the day. We had to schedule an impoertant meeting that everyone needed to attend when we found out that he was planning on taking the day as a vacation day. I made a mental note to self - take a vacation day for my birthday and don’t listen when there’s an important meeting that you need to go to.

I sat at the receptionist desk, making sure that Joe’s car didn’t start down the long drive to his reserved parking lot and absentmindedly surfing the latest world news. A balloon must have gotten too close to the staple remover or something because a loud popping noise came from Joe’s cube and all the pastel balloons shuddered a little as Mark was putting the clear tape over the entrance so that they wouldn’t all pour out.

“Any sign yet?” Harriet asked when most of the decorations were done.

“Nothing yet, but it shouldn’t be long now, he’s almost never more than a half hour.” I replied. It had been 25 minutes since he left. Most of the office was quiet now, and people were just kind of milling about, except for Beatrice and Paul who were cutting the cake and putting out the disposable silverware respectively.

I spotted the gray sedan and gave the signal. Everyone in the front of the office returned to their normal working position, and I scooted off to the back.

“Have a good lunch?” Harriet asked, just like every Wednesday.

“It was very relaxing, thanks.” Joe said without stopping.