The Falling Man
by Carl O'Leary

The fire had started when the big airliner flew right straight into the building. It hit high up, maybe at about the eightieth floor. I knew it wasn't an accident. I could tell the pilot of the plane wanted to hit the building.

Ten floors higher up, a man in the dark suit is now ramming his desk against the window. He succeeds in knocking the window out, all in one piece. He is standing there at the edge, too close to the edge, looking down, watching the big piece of thick glass that had formerly been his office window fall. He isn't worried that the window is going to hit somebody down there; we are standing far back. We are looking up at him.

Someone yells, "Jump!" But he couldn't have heard that, could he? He's way up there.

Now he is falling.

He must have thought he was cut off. Stairways on fire. Elevators not working. No way down. But why didn't he wait for the firemen to get to him? They are moving up, floor by floor, dragging their hoses behind them, steadily working their way up to the floors above where the plane hit.

So why did he jump?

I'm pretty sure he didn't do it for us, the onlookers, so as he falls (it's taking him a long time to fall), I try to figure out why he did it. I decide he is an employee of a business that produces TV ads. His boss has decided to "streamline" the operation. He brings in an efficiency expert to analyze the business, to look for weaknesses in the flow of product (the TV ads).

The efficiency expert has determined it is not the job of the man in dark suit to produce the ads. It isn't even his job to procure the ads from the customers (the advertisers).

The efficiency expert goes to the boss. "What is the job of the man in the dark suit down there on the ninetieth floor?"

The boss doesn't know.

They go down two floors to the ninety-second floor to ask the production supervisor. He doesn't know either.

Together, the three of them go down to the ninety-first floor to ask the operations manager. He doesn't even know who they are talking about.

Together, the four of them go to the man's office. They ask him, "What is your job?"

"Efficiency expert," he replies.

"Really? asks the boss. "How long have you been with us?"

"Twelve years,"

"And in all those years, have you found any inefficiencies?"

"Yes. You have employees that no one seems to know what they do."

I guess that's why he jumped. He had done his job, and he had done it well. There was no need for him to continue. It wasn't because someone had yelled, "Jump!" Besides, it wasn't me that yelled at him. Honest it wasn't.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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