Forty-Minute Story: The Afflicted

The young man in the dapper charcoal suit was sitting on the exam table, hands folded calmly in his lap. By contrast, his wife – seated nearby, wearing a businesslike blazer and skirt – kept squeezing her fingers in worry as she spoke to the doctor.

“I just don’t know what to do,” she blurted. “It started a month ago. He…I don’t think he even knows that he’s doing it.”

The doctor, a grandfatherly man who had just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting, consulted his notes under furrowed brows and nodded reassuringly. “Well, there are some simple tests. Let’s start with this. Lisa, suppose your office building burned to the ground. What would you tell your boss?”

She cleared her throat professionally. “Environmental circumstances have adversely modified our collaboration facility, resulting in an opportunity for construction.”

“Very good, very good. And Simon?”

He frowned. “I would say that our office building burned to the ground.”

“Ohhh,” Lisa wailed. “You see, Doctor? You see?”

“All right. Now let me try something else. Simon, I’m going to say a few sentences, and I want you to repeat back, word for word, exactly what you hear. Ready?”


The doctor adjusted his spectacles as he read from his sheet. “We will leverage our assets in an effort to promote efficiencies.”

“We’ll do it better.”

“Our sourcing partners have undergone a paradigm shift resulting in underutilization of resources and suboptimal return on investment.”

“Our contractors are screwing us.”

“At this time, we are prepared to offer conditional approval of the proposal you have submitted.”


“Our mission is to maximize value by fostering competitive dynamics, harvesting synergies, utilizing strategic partnerships, and proactively managing information.”

Simon blinked. “I don’t think you said anything at all.”

“I want you to repeat this word. Challenging.”






“Well.” The doctor set aside his clipboard with a sigh. “There’s no doubt about it. Simon is afflicted with the Vernacular.”

“Oh, Doctor!” Lisa gasped. “Is…is it curable?”

“In time, with certain drugs and extensive therapy, it may be possible to improve his condition. But I’d ask you to consider some alternatives as well.” He turned to his patient. “Have you ever considered art school?”

Lisa fainted.

11 responses to “Forty-Minute Story: The Afflicted

  1. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m younger than. . .well, probably everyone else who reads this blog, but I don’t quite. . . get it. Is there something that I’m missing?
    Nevermind, I suppose it’s something along the lines of ‘if someone explains it to you then it’s not funny.’ still, I don’t comprehend the intricate structure of storytelling that you have presented, as I have a difficult time comprehedning the presentation in which you have to me, or perhaps instead the information itself is confusing. . .
    No, I’m not going to art school. I refuse. I need to learn the noble craft of storytelling and the art of being crazy and writing.

  2. Brian and I are both programmers “afflicted” with working in the corporate world, while also trying to pursue this writing dream. Anyone who’s had to spend extended time in corporate life would understand this, sadly. For insights without exposure, refer to the excellent resources of Scott Adams and Dilbert.

  3. I found this extremely amusing. Very well done- I was laughing the whole time.

  4. I don’t know how I found this website but I absolutely love it! The story above had me laughing the whole time. Are there more of these comical stories?

  5. Hahahaha! That’s brilliant. I wish they would flippin’ say it how it is. Well written.

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