Record of Occupational Readiness

"Do you know what time it is?" I'd never seen this woman before. She looked like she'd been born in her IRS auditor-type suit, joyless and single-minded. None of it made me want to help a stranger on the sidewalk. I gave a tiny shrug and head waggle. "Sorry."

"One demerit awarded." She checked something off on a clipboard.

"Say what now?"

"This is already going on your record," she said briskly. "No need to compound the error with a dispute."

"Disputing what? What record?" I stopped walking. Sidewalk traffic flowed around us.

"Your record of Occupational Readiness." The capitalization was audible. "Taking any more of my time will decrease efficiency and result in further demerits."

"Who's keeping this record?"

"One demerit awarded." She marked on the clipboard. "Knowing the time is a critical element of effective work habits."

"Not when I'm on  vacation."

"Admitting to work avoidance? That's ten demerits awarded." She shook her head and tsk'd.

"I'm not avoid—look, I earned this vacation by working hard. Why can't I take a break?"

"Further unreasonable dispute. One demerit awarded."

I threw up my hands and stomped away into the crowd. Behind me, I heard her ask for the time.