From the Email Bag

A Spy in the House of Work

You think it’s easy being the unofficial voice of the new economy? You think I like dangerous workplace espionage with no recognition? What about the brand called Spy? When do I get mine? Well, I’m happy to tell you that when one of my reports from behind enemy lines hits a nerve, the Spy needle jumps!


When your Spy wrote about the tragic death of 29-year-old Jerome Clapperclaw, the recently laid-off software engineer who, upon receiving his pink slip, went straight from his cube to the communal kitchen, where he stuck his head in the office microwave and hit “pot roast,” the outpouring of email was incredible! One laid-off Web designer even offered to adopt Clapperclaw’s beloved ferret, Toob Sock. But what really touched the Spy were the readers who saw the universality in this episode and who wrote in with suggestions for how we can all try to look on the bright side during these darkest of days. Here are some choice bits from the Spy’s email bag:

I’m a huge fan, but you outdid yourself with “No, That’s Not Sunday Dinner, It’s Jerome Clapperclaw, Former Programming Genius,” a haunting testimony to the human cost of doing business in the Digital Age. A humble suggestion: Clapperclaw’s life might have been saved had he dealt with his obvious depression prior to being pink-slipped. I’m talking about acknowledging the existence of a Higher Power. When I realized that my own days were numbered at Apple, I started to think seriously about spiritual matters.

Steve Jobs

Congratulations on another insightful and riveting column. Here’s an alternative to despair: People should not think of being laid off as losing a job, but as a chance to start that online diary they’ve secretly dreamed of. Here’s a haiku from my own online diary, “Grout stains beckon me/Clean blinds or attack spice rack/Clean windows are bliss!”

Keep writing and posting!
Timothy Koogle

One word would have saved Jerome Clapperclaw: eptimism?. Most people need optimism just to get out of bed in the morning; people trying to sell ads on the Web need brainless optimism; eptimism? is for geeks who thought that options were the same as having a savings account. A few eptimistic thoughts: Take a daily walk to lift your spirits. Get together with friends for dinner and a movie. And, if all else fails, get a Republican in the White House, and watch your DOJ problems disappear.


Very truly yours,
W. Gates III

Regarding Jerome Clapperclaw: This may be an unpopular view, but come on, people, buck up! One little layoff and he’s pot roast? I know CEOs who have burned through tens of millions, ruined the mental health of many fine employees, and driven loved ones bonkers. Still, there are startups to be started, technologies to be discovered, and VCs to be manipulated to make a few of us millionaires. Are we men, or mice?

C. Carpenter

Forgot to add this P.S.: If the notion of exploring a relationship with Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, or any of the other traditional divine reps is unappealing, why not consider becoming a godhead? Believe me, this works!


Re: “No, That’s Not Sunday Dinner … ” Medically speaking, this is a brilliant exploration of a troubled soul and proof of the long-term damaging effects of smoking. Quick question, though: What was the make and model of that microwave?


C. Everett Koop

This is the latest episode in the Spy’s continuing saga, “Working Behind Enemy Lines.” You can find the entire Spy chronicles on the Web (