There was a loud thud in the middle of the night.
The groggy watchman lumbered up the steps to the top of the castle tower. He heard another thud and a roar of laughter down below.
The watchman saw hundreds of kayaks crossing the Chicago River. A dozen of these plastic boats were now harbored onshore, safely past the moat. He looked down to the right and saw a small army with a giant battering ram. It looked like the trunk of a Redwood tree attached to four monster truck wheels. The army pushed the device backwards then rallied their momentum forward, forcefully crashing into the castle wall.
The watchman rushed down the steps. He sprinted to the king and queen’s bedroom at the opposite end of the castle.
“The extroverts are coming! The extroverts are coming!” he shouted as he ran through the courtyard. “Archers, man the battlements. The extroverts are raiding the castle!”
“What’s he barking about?” a woman wearing sweatpants and a Cubs t-shirt said to her husband. She sipped her K-cup coffee and looked out the window.
All the introverts were now sprinting through the courtyard. Men, women, children. The husband, also in sweatpants, opened the window. He put on his mask and called out to the crowd.
“Hey, what’s going on?”
“The extroverts. They’re storming the castle!”
“Well, it’s about time,” the woman said. “Ooh, what should I wear? What should I wear!”
The watchman barged into the royal bedroom. The queen jumped up, pulled the sheets up to her shoulders.
“What’s the meaning of this, lad?” the king asked.
“We’re under attack,” the watchman said. He tried to catch his breath.
The king and queen looked at each other.
“Guard, bring me the royal iPad.”
“Yes, your highness.”
“Baker, bring me some sourdough toast.”
“Yes, your highness.”
The guard came back with the iPad. The king held it up to his mouth.
“Siri, show me the royal moat cam,” the king looked at the screen with a slight eyebrow raise. “Yuck. Look at them all gathered together with no social distance. It’s barbaric.”
“Your highness, if I may,” the watchman said. “We need to get the archers ready immediately.”
“We need or you need?
“Please, we don’t have much time.”
“Fair enough, fair enough,” the King said. He began stroking his beard. “Will you ask their leader to join me on Slack?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You heard me. Run along now.”
The watchman reluctantly left the bedroom. He sprinted through the courtyard. Back to the tower. Up the steps. He took a few breaths, then cleared his throat.
“Excuse me, um, yes, hi,” the watchman called out. “Our King has requested you join him on Slack for a quick conversation.”
A roar of laughter came from the army below.
“Listen to the little introverts and their ‘Slack messaging,'” the general called out. The army roared in laughter. “Well, why don’t you tell your king he can come shake my hand and talk to me face to face.”
“Yeah, well, I think he really wants this Slack thing.”
“You heard me,” the extrovert leader replied. “Run along now.”
The watchman ran back down the steps, through the courtyard. He passed the married couple from earlier. The wife was now in a black dress and a pair of high heels.
“The bars. The Cubs games. Concerts. Ooh! I wonder who’s at Lolla this year. Oh! We can start traveling again! It’ll be so good to be out of this stinkin’ castle. This will be incredible, honey.”
“The El. The bus. Airport security. This is gonna be horrible.”
“Oh, lighten up.”
The watchman barged back into the royal bedroom.
“The extroverts have requested a face-to-face conversation.”
“Of course they have,” the King replied.
The King started to write on a piece of paper. He rolled it up then placed it in the talons of a very large carrier pigeon. He looked back at the watchman.
“We can talk face-to-face over Zoom. Here is my Zoom link. It also has a dial-in option.”
“You want me to carry your pigeon? Couldn’t you just–”
“Run along now.”
Out of the bedroom. Through the courtyard. Past the married sweatpants couple.
“But don’t you remember being stuck at a party?” the husband said. “And you had to awkwardly say goodbye to everyone. Then wait for an Uber. And the Uber driver’s all like, ‘Jason?’ Why do they have to ask my name? Of course it’s me. Like who’s out there stealing Uber rides? ‘Nice night, huh? How bout them Cubbies?’ No. No Rizzo. I just want to sit in the backseat. Quietly. Is that too much to ask? Now, all I have to do, close the laptop. Done. I’m already home.”
“You know I haven’t hugged anyone, besides you, in 15 months?”
“Everything’s about touching with these extroverts! The hugs. The handshakes. The making out. What’s wrong with a simple elbow bump?”
“The elbow bump’s not gonna be a thing.”
“A nice head nod. A wink. A tip of the cap. We have so many better options.”
“Well, I think it’s gonna be great having them back. Variety is the spice of life.”
“My spice rack was doing just fine,” he said as he put away the garlic powder.
The watchman looked down from the castle tower. Cleared his throat again. He held the large pigeon in his hands and tossed it up in the air. The large bird came crashing down like a bowling ball. The general caught the bird, unwrapped the note. The pigeon waddled away like a bloated penguin.
“A Zoom link?”
“Well, you can tell your king,” the general paused for a second. “We are a Cisco WebX company.”
“Oh, come on! Let’s be reasonable here! How about a Google Hangout?”
“I’ve got Microsoft Teams,” one of the soldiers called out.
“I’ve got Facetime,” another soldier said.
“I’ve got Glip by RingCentral.”
“Yeah. You guys never done a chip-n-dip over Glip?”
“The hell are you talkin’ about?”
“It’s simple. You order your drinks, take a sip. Get out the chips, get out the dip. Turn on Glip. I’ve got a friend who goes on there, shakes his hips, he strips for like a hundred dollar tips.”
“Sounds like a bit of a gyp.”
“Enough!” the general barked. “No Zoom. No Glip. You don’t have to deliver any more messages, pigeon boy. We’re gonna tell your king ourselves.”
The battering ram crashed through the door. The army let out a loud battle cry then stormed through the opening.
“Excuse me,” the wife called out. She was now standing outside. “Yoo-hoo! Where’s the party at tonight?”
“We’re pregaming til 11, then seeing where the knight takes us,” one of the soldiers replied.
“I was so happy,” the husband said as he packed his sourdough kit back into storage.
The general kicked the royal bedroom door wide open.
“Tell your people it’s time to get back to work,” the general said. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”
“They have been working,” the king replied. “There’s actually never been a more productive year. We were quite literally in the Middle Ages 15 months ago.”
“If it doesn’t happen in an office, it’s not work.”
“Says everyone. You need the water cooler. You need the team lunches. You need the camaraderie.”
“No. You need it.
“That’s what I’m saying, you need it.”
“No. You need it. We don’t.”
“You want to feed your family, you go to the office. You want to put bread on the table, you work a 9 to 5.”
“Yes, your highness?” the baker said as he carried in the sourdough toast.
“This is Hugh, he puts bread on the table,” the king said. “Did you have a question for Hugh?”
“You need bread, right?” the general asked.
“I knead the dough, yes,” the baker replied.
“Right. You need the dough so you go to the office and make bread.”
“Well,” the baker said. “I knead the dough, then I bake the bread.”
“Right. Cuz you need the dough.”
“Hugh kneads dough,” the king said. “But he doesn’t need dough. It’s kind of a royal unpaid internship.”
“Enough!” the extrovert general shouted. “We’re going back to the office. Five days a week. And that’s final.”
“How ’bout a hybrid model, 2 days in office, 3 work from home.”
“Three days in office, two work from home?”
“Four days in office, but the fifth is just one big happy hour?”
The general, the king, and the queen called the extroverts and introverts together in the courtyard.
“We have reached an agreement for a return to work,” the king said. “We call it, ‘Work Hard, Play Hard.’ Four days in the office. Then one off-site day at the Old Town Ale House.”
“Excuse me, how will we know if our co-workers have been vaccinated?” the husband called out from the crowd.
“It’ll be an honor system. Just like going to the movie theater.”
“What’s a movie theater?” someone wearing 14th-century rags asked from the back of the crowd.
“Do we still have to wear masks?”
“Will people leave my turkey sandwich alone in the fridge?”
“Well, I’m not comfortable with that,” the husband said.
“Jason,” his wife whispered. She elbowed him in the ribs.
“I think that’s the elbow bump,” one of the extrovert soldiers whispered to another.
“What would you like to propose instead?” the extrovert general shouted back.
“Hear me out,” the husband (Jason) said. “How about anyone who is unvaccinated, or anyone uncomfortable with the honor system, can remain working from home.”
“Yeah, I like that,” another introvert said quietly in the crowd.
The rest of the introverts raised their right hands in the air while looking at the ground.
“What are they doing?” the general asked.
“They’re saying yes,” Jason said. “They just don’t like speaking in front of a crowd.”
“Okay, fine, whatever,” the general said. “They can work from home. But the rest of us are going into the office. And that’s final.”
“Works for me,” Jason said.
“Thoughts on making it five days a week at the Ale House?” one of the extrovert soldiers called out.
“Eh, worth a shot.”
“Sorry, one more thing,” Jason called out.
“Jason, seriously,” his wife replied with another elbow to the ribs.
“I’d like to propose that anyone in the working-from-home camp shall receive a relocation stipend from the extroverts to help us all move to Montana.”
“You can even take our condos here inside the castle.”
“You’re being serious? Well, that’s fine by me!”
Gradually, the extroverts moved into the castle and the introverts moved out. The extroverts immediately opened the offices and all the bars and restaurants. The introverts moved into giant houses with massive yards, each one at least 6 miles of social distance apart in a small Montana town.
“I can go bike riding. Hiking. Kayaking,” Jason said. “Oh! We can go skiing in the winter. Ah, it’s so good to be out of that stinkin’ castle. This will be incredible, honey.”
“I was so happy,” the wife said as she packed her black dress and high heels back in storage.
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