“So, thou are the lord, our god, John Frum?” The ruddy complected and jowly passport inspector said jovially.
“Pardon?” John said. He bristled instinctively; not certain whether he was being made the butt of a joke or not.
“I read somewhere about a tribe in the South Pacific who worshipped a man by the name of ‘John Frum’. It was prophesied that someday Frum would bring them riches of cargo – so the legend goes. Anyway, welcome back home, Mr. Frum.” The Customs agent said, pounding the rattley self-inking stamp down onto John’s passport.
“Thank you very much.” John said, now faintly recalling having heard about the mythical god that shared his name. It clearly had never before imprinted on his psyche.
John thought nothing more about it until the next day as he sat in his cubicle the building’s interior illuminated only by the sickly, occasionally flickering, bluish glow of fluorescent lights. Giving his mind a break from corralling numbers around cells in a spreadsheet, he pulled up Google and did a search for “John Frum”. The company’s censoring software frequently kept John from doing much needed and legitimate research because it seemed to operate on a kind of Beevis & Butthead mentality. That is, if he typed in “erection of buttress beams”, the software would say, “Hehehe… he said ‘erection’ and ‘butt…’”, and John would get an error message warning him to not persist in trying to pull up skanky porn on the company computer. [Alternatively, if he were to type in the name “Miles O’toole” he would be inundated with porn sites because the program was not smart enough to understand puns or double entendre.] In this particular case he had no problem pulling up information (presumably because he was goofing off rather than actually trying to be productive, which he usually was when the computer accused him of debauchery.) John discovered that he did, indeed, have a namesake who was worshipped on a tiny island in the chain of islands called Vanuatu.
John was not yet obsessed, but he could not help but occasionally engage in reverie about the fact that somewhere he might be worshipped as a god. This was particularly the case when he felt unappreciated or beaten down by bureaucracy. So it was that he would occasionally look up how much it would cost to travel to the tiny island of Tanna, or other such logistical details. For example, he looked up how much it would cost to ship a container full of cargo along with him. It turned out that, while it was expensive, it was not impossibly so. This was particularly the case given that – even if he weren’t a god – it was a cheap place to live, and he expected to be comped a few meals and to not have to pay taxes-being a god and all. John began to give this line of thought the kind of interest that one might a lottery ticket when the jackpot is high, which is to say he began to become monomaniacal with respect to the subject , but in a way in which the logical part of his mind did not for a second think it a likely outcome. So it lay, like an itch in John’s brain.
Then came the day when the proverbial straw fell across the proverbial camel’s back.
“Frum, I need you to have my presentation ready for a 9:00am Monday meeting. They’ve moved it up on us.” Said John’s boss, sporting his Trump-esque hairdo and sweat-stained pits from the exertion of dropping by John’s cubicle on the way to the Coke machine, at 4:45pm on a Friday afternoon.
John had planned a very full weekend of doing nothing whatsoever. He had spent his last weekend traveling to the company’s factory in Hanoi and spent the first three days of the week working day and night, in a hazy-brained sleep-deprived state, collecting and analyzing data. He then spent his Thursday flying 18 hours in order to put in a full day on Friday.
John might have grinned and taken it, but for what his boss next said, “At least you had Thursday off to offset working the weekend.” The boss said.
John thought, “’Off’, yes, is that what that was? That day I spent crammed into the middle seat amongst a family of hardworking Vietnamese fisherman who were delightful except for reeking of cod. Plus there was the feeling that a bucket of sand had been thrown into my face from the computer burning out my retinas. Yes, so relaxing. It’s just how I would have chosen to spend my day off.” John knew that his boss hadn’t thought of all this but, instead, somehow assumed he had instantaneously teleported home and spent the day at the batting cages.
Then came the straw on top of the straw. “I’ll need you to have the presentation in my in-box by 7:30am so I’ll have time to review it.” The boss said.
Setting aside the fact that the boss rarely made it in before 8:30am, even when he said such things about reviewing such-and-such, Frum – in his state of midlife crisis – was not prepared to swallow so many bitter pills at once. What John meant to say was, “No, I will not spend another weekend working so that you can look good. You will have my letter of resignation by close of business.”
However, what actually came out in Frum’s frazzled, preoccupied, and angered state was, “I am John Frum, god of the Tanna people; you cannot treat me this way.”
The boss’s mouth went agape as, no doubt, did those of many others in the cubicle-partitioned workspace. The boss took a step back as if John had mutated into a spitting cobra. The boss’s eyes rolled from side-to-side, no doubt wishfully looking for the security guard that he hoped would charge in at any moment to deal with the wild-eyed lunatic before him. The boss, seeing no imminent rescue, then charged off to find security. However, long before he found them playing poker in the boiler room, John had dumped the personal contents of his desk into an old file-box, and typed up a more coherent and less whack-a-doo sounding resignation letter, which he placed on the boss’s keyboard.
Frum rode home feeling empowered, elated, and invigorated. Upon entering his condo, he thought about the fact that he had left his job in a way that would make him spectacularly unhireable for any position other than night janitor at a fast food restaurant. Frum promptly vomited in the foyer. He spent a mostly sleepless night contemplating how he might recover from his impulsive action, and even more time wondering if he might truly be insane. Eventually, he spuriously concluded that an insane person wouldn’t be so concerned about whether they were crazy or not. That was the beauty of being crazy. Of course, this was not very sound or astute reasoning, but it did allow Frum to drift off into a restful slumber at 3:30am. When the habitually-set alarm went off at 6:00am, Frum smashed it into the floor with all his might. It bounced into the wall, its corner poking a hole into the drywall. Frum returned to a sound sleep.