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Like I do every morning, after a quick shower and a long coffee, I have settled down at my computer. This is the control station from where I can manage everything, staying nice and warm without ever going out. I am a moderator for the website of a major newspaper. I work three hours a day calming the fury of internet users hooked on news. It’s quite good fun, if I say so myself. Not very lucrative, but at least I don’t get any hassle. Quite chilled, really.

First, personal emails. Nothing to report there. A quick look at my bank account. Not loads, but my tax credits will be in soon. With one eye on the online press, it’s quarter past eight, I have another black coffee and I’m off!

08.22: First email! My girlfriend, Rachida, is still hassling me about her parents’ wedding anniversary meal.
We’ve been together for three years. Well, together... it’s a figure of speech. We each have our own space and each other’s emotions are carefully preserved.
08.23: I reply to her: “I’m OK for Sunday. Should we take something? (Let you do that.) Love you.”
08.26: Shit, the paper’s site is flashing again. Four reports! There’s some nutcase using foul language to any supporter of a political party who happens to leave a comment. I do a quick clean-up of the forum.
08.32: Message from my insurance company confirming that I have forgotten to send the receipt for my new computer. Must see to that soon.
08.40: Email from Rachida’s brother, asking me – for the sixth time in three months – if I intend to marry his sister.
08.45: I reply to him, like I always do, that I am a respectable man and that I find his question offensive. That family can really be such sticklers for principles!
08.47: One of my employer’s rivals offers me a job. I’ll have to think about that, it’s a tempting offer.
08.59: Facebook notification. Rachida has finally decided to create a page and is asking me to add her as a ‘friend’. Let’s hope that makes her a bit less jealous...

09.07: Email from the Job Centre. Apparently I forgot to go last month and they are delisting me!
09.12: Rachida’s brother is asking me, once and for all, to set a date for the wedding.
09.19: The litigation department of the electricity company informs me that they are going to proceed to deduct the money for last month’s unpaid bill directly. Well, let them.
09.23: Message from the benefits office this time. As I am not up to date with the Job Centre, I’ve lost my tax credits as a consequence.
09.32: Joint mailing to both organisations. “I did not know about the meeting. Do not cut off my allowances. Tell me what to do to resolve the problem.”
09.45: Everything is going mad at the paper. Deep in my administrative problems, I didn’t notice the abuse reports going into meltdown. Fifty messages to deal with!
09.53: I’ve sorted half of them.
New email in my personal inbox, from my employer. He is only asking me what I am playing at and threatening to give me the boot if I keep farting around instead of working.
09.57: I learn that I am the lucky winner of a Senegalese lottery and I am informed that I will receive three and a half million dollars once I have sent my bank details.
10.03: My inbox is filling up as I look at it. Sixty-four Facebook notifications. I log on in haste. Oh no! My mate Renan has put on a photo of me at his New Year’s party. But I can’t remember kissing that girl in the pink thong!
10.04: Email from Rachida. “You’re an idiot, fuck off.”
10.05: Email from Rachida’s brother. “You’re dead.”
10.06: Email from my mother. “Who is that young woman with hardly any clothes on on your page? I don’t see Rachida... Your father is furious!”
10.07: Email from Renan. “Have you seen the photo collage on your wall? OTFL ROFL LOL :-DDDD”
10.10: I tell Renan that he is a silly ass.
10.12: I’ll be needing money and I accept the offer from the rival paper.
10.15: Job Centre makes an effort to do something and asks me to prove that I didn’t get an invite.
10.17: The benefits office informs me that it will reinstate my payments when the Job Centre has agreed and my account number has been confirmed.
10.19: My future ex-employer tells me that I can go and take a running jump to where the sun don’t shine.
10.20: Renan refuses any suggestion from me telling me that he is not a wimp. I must have got my wires crossed, but this is not the time to sort out misunderstandings!
10.21: My boss screams through the messaging service. “You have a hundred and twenty reports waiting, you donkey! You’ve got quarter of an hour to solve the problem. P.S.: Nice photo on your profile.”
10.32: I have caught up. But another email. This time from the bank. My adviser tells me that I have exceeded my authorised overdraft and that I must resolve the issue promptly. When I check, I find that Rachida has just emptied my account and I don’t have a penny left.
10.35: Her brother tells me that he is going to hang me up by the balls, covered in honey, above an anthill.
10.43: Facebook notification. My grandmother would like me to introduce her to the young girl in the pink underwear.
10.46: I give the benefits office my bank details.
10.47: I realize that I have sent my bank account number to the Senegalese lottery.
10.48: The bank woman tells me that I am now 51,269 dollars overdrawn. That is 51,000 dollars more than quarter of an hour ago.
10.50: I protest and scream that I have been ripped-off!
10.53: My benefits advisor has just realized that they’ve been overpaying me for more than seven months. I have to give them back 2,100 dollars as quickly as possible.
10.59: Four hundred and twelve reports of one single internet user who adds to each comment “Fuck you... you bloated worm.” It’s short, but it really freaks out the paper’s readers.
11.01: It obviously freaks out my boss quite a bit as well as he’s just fired me.
11.04: Message from Renan. “Did you see I’ve really spiced up your day with my bloated worm! OTFL ROFL LOL:-DDDD”
11.07: Facebook informs me that my account is suspended because of a vulgar photo I shared.
11.12: In light of the size of my overdraft, my bank advisor has taken the decision to freeze my account while waiting for the police to verify the theft.
11.13: The electricity company litigation service, after the debit for my bill has bounced a second time, tells me that my account will be suspended with immediate effect.
11.14: My cup slips from my fingers and the coffee seeps into my CPU.

11.15.
The power cuts out.
Someone knocks at the door.
Rachida’s brother is standing there with a pot of honey.

Translated by Wendy Cross

159

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Short · ago
Strange but so real
So sorry for the moderator

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