What To Do When You Meet Yourself
by Candida Flowers
We at Ops Scheduling do our best to ensure that you won’t have one of those awkward, face-to-face encounters with yourself. You know, you’re casually strolling along, minding your own business, somewhere in The Past, when you see a goggle-eyed weirdo walking towards you. You just have time to think “who is this disgusting man?” when it dawns upon you that it is yourself, and also that red is totally not your colour, and that you walk like a drunken landsman on the deck of a small boat that is in the process of sinking beneath the waves.
Yes. We Scheduling people do our best to ensure that you do not have this unsettling experience. But—look, there are only nine of us, and, of those nine, two of us are on Serious Medication, one of us is on Serious Self-Medication, one of us is on Frivolous Medication, and the rest are on the booze. Except for Chandler. I don’t know what Chandler’s on, and frankly I don’t want to. Anyway, my point here is that, what with one thing and another—Anastasia’s frequent crying jags, Kiki’s self-harm issues, Stanza’s torrid affair with Staci, Staci’s equally torrid affair with Ryan, Ryan’s fairly torrid affair with Minella, and Minella’s ice-cold affair with Verity—what I’m saying is, be prepared for the occasional screw-up, okay? Okay? Is that okay with you, Agent?
Excellent. Then I shall continue. It’s important that you know what to do, if you do happen to meet yourself.
Lighthouse policy is very clear on this point. “Agents about to meet themselves must take evasive action at once.” In other words, hide or flee. If you have a handy newspaper, hold it in front of your face, and don’t peek at yourself over the paper. It is very disconcerting, for an Agent to find themselves peeking at them over their paper. If you see what I mean. Oh, you don’t understand? You feel that I could have worded that more felicitously?
I’m sorry. I guess I am projecting. I mean, I really felt judgement vibes coming off of you, but I am in a dark room by myself as I iDictate this, so I suppose it must be me. Just don’t do it again.
Lighthouse policy is, as I said, very clear. However, there are a couple of little wrinkles here. Like on Verity’s face. Verity is looking totally hag-like these days, poor woman, what with Minella giving her the run-around and all. The main wrinkle is that, if you remember meeting yourself, and if it seems you probably met yourself here and now, you should do that. Try to play it like you remember it. This is apparently because the Philosophy of Time Travel people don’t like taking any more chances than absolutely necessary. No, I don’t understand exactly what they mean by that. What am I, a genius? Right. I’m not a genius. I’m a scheduler, and I’m proud of it. It is a Noble Profession.
Oh, you agree, do you? Well, thanks a lot. No, I heard your tone. You don’t mean it. You think I’m a mere cog in a mere machine, and not the shining radiant-souled sort of creature that would be capable of winning the fair Staci away from the vile clutches of Stanza and also of Ryan.
I am so done with this. There are other things you ought to know—really, really important things, too—but I won’t be spoken to like that.
(…Also, I have to finish Paying My Taxes)