The X2906 Issues List


In 2173, the Aliquippa Carriage Company entered into a contract with the legislature on the planet of Hatword to refurbish seventeen out-of-date cargo spacecrafts from Octula for use as passenger vehicles for Hatwordians.

Everyone who has ever had contractual dealings with the Hatword entities complains bitterly about their indecisiveness and unwillingness to accept anything until it has been reworked to perfection, but the Earthlings at Aliquippa were determined to make a success of the project.

Almost immediately issues arose, and the staff at Aliquippa worked quickly to resolve them, without much success. Of course, as frustrations mounted, the project managers started to enter their private thoughts into the issues list.

Sample Pages

July 26, 2173

The agent has set up a meeting, with my own attendance optional. In the middle of the night, but I can’t risk not taking a moment to rant and rave about the deadline. What’s a project manager to do, otherwise, but point to the schedule and howl?

July 28, 2173

Attended the meeting. Four people canceled at the last minute, claiming the Ambassador called an all-hands briefing. That left the agent and two flunkies, myself included.

Olive is in a terrible pout about the call. Can’t get her beauty sleep if I am shouting on the videophone at low-class aliens. Everybody knows important jobs do not involve extraterrestrials. Never get a better job if I have aliens on my résumé. Maybe we aren’t meant to be together, anyway.

July 30, 2173

A first invoice from the agent, billing for five hours. No draft of the specs.

Olive has given my name to a headhunter, a woman who recruits for the only major accounting firm not yet indicted.

“Something appropriate,” Olive said. “Something in uranium or silicon. That’s what you need.”
Olive is clearly not aware that nearly ninety percent of the product in uranium deals comes from other planets. With silicon, it’s only forty percent. Can’t be a big shot in those fields without rubbing elbows with extraterrestrials.

August 1, 2173

Nothing from the Hatwordians. Nothing from the agent except the invoice received a couple of days ago.
The deposit is still not here, either. We are not supposed to disburse funds, such as paying this invoice, until the deposit has passed through the Universal Clearinghouse.

Olive is getting ready to move out. The medicine cabinet in the bathroom is clean, for the first time in two years. No dust or dirt anywhere.

I need to act as if I’m blue. Women want you to go into a slump when they run out on you. Provides the only real conversation they have for several weeks.

Need a break, that’s for sure. She has been leading me around by the nose for too long, always concerned about how I will appear to others.

August 2, 2173

Another call to our expensive agent today. The requirements will be on my desk in a day or two. Can’t rush these things.

How about the deposit? No information there, but the agent will spend more of our time digging into it.
Olive is restless. Can’t sleep, can’t eat, spends all her time on the automatic exerciser.

Back to see Blacklick today. No good news about the deposit from him. Certainly no good news about the requirements from me. I did not get the idea my job is in jeopardy.

“Everybody has trouble with Hatword,” Blacklick admitted. “They sign contracts and then are amazed that the schedule creeps up on them. Agree to have something to you on a certain date, expecting you to breach first. Then, they are in the clear.”

“Meanwhile,” I threw in, “I’ve got those designers scheduled to start on August 15. I thought I would have two weeks to iron out any discrepancies in the requirements, but now I’m worried we won’t have any requirements at all.”

“At $400 per hour,” Blacklick reminded me. “I felt we were lucky to get that fancy design team at any price, and now we may have to pay them to stare at the ceiling.”

“Any advice?” I asked.

“Call that agent again and tell him we will pay nothing after the first twenty hours unless the requirements are in our hands by August 12.”

August 3, 2173

The grand exit was last night. All her clothes were packed when I finally got back to my house.

“Are you going someplace?” I asked.

“This is not working for me,” Olive said. “I need to take some time to think things over.”

“How much time?”

“It isn’t about how much,” she told me. “It’s hard to say when I will have my thoughts gathered.”

“A week?”

“Hardly a week,” she said, looking at me as if my presence in her life rated a very long, involved period of meditation to sort it all out.

“Where are you going?”

“To Carolyn’s. For awhile, anyway.”

“That headhunter?”

“We’ve become quite close,” Olive admitted. “She has a spare room.”

“When will I see you? How can I contact you?”

“I’ll call you when I am ready to see people.”

I shook my head. I had wondered what to say when the moment finally came, and, unhappily, I had no words. I tried to look sad, forlorn, or disoriented. Poker is not my forte. After the discovery of the spotless medicine chest, I had found myself almost delirious with joy at the thought that Olive was leaving.

The house was strangely quiet after she left. I put my feet up on the coffee table and smoked a cigar.

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