"Good morning, Wally."
"Is it really?" said Wally, looking up from his magazine and glancing round the office. "Huh. I thought it was just an average one."
"I just meant — oh, never mind," Dilbert sighed, and continued on to his cubicle. Next door was Alice; she stood up and leaned on the wall to talk to Dilbert. "Did you get those product specs?" she asked, as Dilbert unlocked his suitcase and began sorting through his papers.
"Not yet," Dilbert groaned, "I haven't talked to Catbert."
"Well, you should do it today," Alice responded. "The Boss wants the purchase orders by Friday. And you know how long it takes for Catbert to get things."
"He does it on purpose," Dilbert said angrily, "just to make us suffer. I don't think it's right."
"Of course it's not right," said Wally from the hallway, leaning on the cubicle doorway. "But it gives him job satisfaction, so why shouldn't he do it?"
"Because it comes at the expense of others!"
Wally stared at Dilbert, blinking. "I'm not following your reasoning..."
"Forget it," Dilbert said angrily, shoving past Wally, "I'm just going to go talk with him."
He walked down the hallway, fuming silently. Around him the normal sounds of the office came from various cubicles: the ring of a telephone, the hum of the copy machine, the "GOOD MORNING, CAROL!" coming from Loud Howard two hallways away...
"Oh, hey, Asok," said Dilbert, as the young intern stepped out of the bathroom where his cubicle was located. "How's it going?"
"Hello, Dilbert," Asok said quietly. "I would like to apologize for my actions yesterday."
Dilbert blinked. "Um, thanks, but it's really Alice you should be apologizing to. She's the one you blew up at."
"Yes," said Asok, "but I can't come within six feet of her or she'll stuff the copier into my pants. That's what she says. Could you just deliver the message?"
"Sure, Asok," replied Dilbert, "no problem. What made you so angry yesterday anyway?"
"I do not know," sighed Asok. "There seems to be something in the air. Something besides the asbestos. Everyone is normal in the morning, but after an hour or so here they have turned into bitter, resentful maniacs. Even more so, I mean."
"You think we're all breathing in hate and fury?" Dilbert had to smile.
"Perhaps," said Asok. "Or maybe I'm insane. I think the latter is more likely."
Dilbert nodded and continued on. Soon he had reached the door to Human Resources. It wasn't the most welcoming of doors: For one thing, it had fire and brimstone surrounding it; for another, it had a sign on it that said ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE.
Dilbert stumbled around the smoke, coughing, and knocked. Instead of the usual, evil-sounding "What do you want?" that he had come to expect, however, he heard, "Ah, come in, come, come! The more the merrier!"
Somewhat puzzled, Dilbert walked in. What he saw astounded him: Catbert had transformed his office. Instead of an obstacle course, a human scratching post, and assorted furniture, he had a couch, an indoor swimming pool (which he was currently swimming in) and a martini bar. "Help yourself, Dilbert!" Catbert said genially, gesturing toward the bar.
Dilbert hesitantly walked over and poured himself a Dr. Pepper. He sniffed to make sure it hadn't been poisoned, found no trace, and drank deeply. It was very satisfying.
"Now then," said Catbert, climbing out and drying himself off, "what can I help you with?"
"Catbert?" said Dilbert uncertainly, sitting down in front of the HR director. "Are you feeling all right? This isn't a trick, is it?"
"Of course not, my good man, of course not!" Catbert laughed, slapping Dilbert heartily on the back. Dilbert froze, expecting to feel claws penetrating his skin, but apparently Catbert had trimmed his nails. "And I've never felt better, my friend, never better!"
"Um ... that's ... great!" said Dilbert, smiling also. "I, uh, just came to ask about those new product specs. Did you —"
"Not to worry, Dilbert, not to worry," Catbert smiled, and he jumped onto his desk, grabbed a paper and handed it to Dilbert. "I've already taken care of them. And by the way, how would you like a new printer?"
"Oh! Um, okay," said Dilbert, examining the specs. "Are you sure?"
"Certainly, it's not a problem, my good man, not a problem at all," said Catbert. "Do you need anything else?"
"Um, no, I think you've about covered it," said Dilbert, standing up again. "Thank you."
"No, my friend, thank you!" laughed Catbert as he escorted Dilbert out. "And by the way, tell all the employees they'll be receiving new laptops. And this time they won't be chained to the desks!"
"I'll deliver the message," called Dilbert as he stepped out. He stumbled, almost burning himself on the fire. "Whoa!"
"Oh, dear!" said Catbert, surveying the brimstone. "This simply will not do. I'll have to bring in a new designer ... I'm thinking flowers and neon..."
Muttering to himself, Catbert closed the door. Dilbert strode a safe distance away from the fire, then blinked and turned around.
"What on earth just happened?" he asked himself. He examined the product specs. "These are the most accurate I've ever seen!" He looked back up to see Catbert coming back out; he had a pail of water and he splashed it all around, extinguishing the fire. "Catbert's acting rational ... he's being nice ... he's redesigning the office and helping the employees...This has to be a trick!"
He watched as Asok approached Catbert. The intern was shivering nervously; his interactions with HR always ended badly. "Catbert, I was simply wondering if you could —"
"Ah, hello, Asok!" Catbert exclaimed cheerfully. "How would you like to come in for a swim? Or perhaps you'd like a martini? Anything you want!"
Asok was dumbfounded. "Anything ... I ... want?"
"Why, of course!" said Catbert, pulling Asok in. "We'll start with a nice margarita ... have you ever had one? They're simply delightful..."
Catbert closed the door again, and Dilbert gasped. "It's not a trick! Catbert's changed! Either that or he's been replaced by an alternate twin. I wonder..."
He headed back to his cubicle and called to Alice. "Here are the specs," he said, handing them over to her cubicle.
"He just gave them to you?" said Alice, rising from her chair and taking the paper, dumbfounded. "Didn't make you wait or anything?"
"He already had them ready!" said Dilbert. "Not only that, but he's redesigned his office, giving the employees free drinks, and letting them have turns in his swimming pool!"
"This I have got to see," said Alice, heading down the hall.
Dilbert wasn't the only one Catbert treated well: Throughout the day every employee came to his door, and Catbert gave every one anything he wanted. Nothing seemed to make the cat happier than making his employees happy. He was doling out new computers, new software, printers, copiers, scanners, anything anyone asked him for. He was acting so rational that several times Dilbert had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming. But it was for real: Catbert had changed.
"Was that the most amazing day at work or what?" said Alice, as she, Dilbert and Wally walked down to the parking lot together after work. "He let us out at five o'clock! That's never happened before!"
"Yeah," said Wally, staggering slightly under the weight of all the new things Catbert had given him, "I don't know what to make of it."
"Who cares what we make of it?" said Alice happily, throwing all her stuff into her car trunk. "It doesn't matter to me if he's gone crazy, if he's had a brain transplant or if he's just decided to be nice. I'm gonna get all I can get while I can get it!"
"Yeah, but ... what do you think the Boss makes of this?" said Dilbert, as he slammed his trunk shut. "I doubt he'll be pleased."
"So?" said Wally. "Catbert can overrule him. Human resources has that power."
"Yeah, but I doubt he'll be in HR much longer if he keeps this up," said Dilbert. "Once the guys upstairs figure out what he's doing, he'll be fired for sure."
"Which is why you need to get all you can get while you can get it," said Alice, starting up her car. "See you guys tomorrow!"
To be continued ... review please?