Letter 16: “Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR”

Dear Mr. Wallace,

So you decided to go with the obvious for the title of this one?  I could see where the title “Little Expressionless Animals” came from after reading the story.  It comes from a line of dialogue, but also points to the theme in its own way.  The title of the title story, “Girl with Curious Hair,” also comes from the story, and works thematically as well.[1]  But with this story, you check all subtlety at the door.  I think even some of my dullest students would be able to pick up on the importance of the title.

One of the first things that struck me about “Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR” was the way in which the entire encounter between these two anonymous corporate executive plays out almost like an intricately choreographed dance piece.[2]  At first, their movements toward the elevators seem to mirror each other in nearly perfect harmony.  Then as they make their way from elevator to vehicle, and then as the Account Representative watches the Vice President fall slowly and gracefully to the floor, it reads almost like the narrative of a Russian ballet.[3]

Aside from the synchronized movements of the two participants, the story’s dripping irony is a little hard to miss.  While I could go paragraph by paragraph, explicating the irony, I choose to focus on these two characters and the irony of the importance of being important.

These two men are obviously very important to the Company, both holding executive positions.  Yet they are nameless.  They are simply referred to as the Account Representative and the Vice President in Charge of Overseas Production.  They are simply titles, not – it would seem – real men.  There is more description of their brief cases and vehicles than of the men themselves.

Second, they are so important to this Company,[4] and yet they are the last to leave work on this fateful evening.  And it would seem that their leaving this late – after 10 pm – is a somewhat regular occurrence for them.  I realize that important people have important work to do, and that important work can take a long time to complete.  But if they are truly that important to this company, why are they stuck in the office after even the custodial crew has left for the evening?  Wouldn’t such important people have assistants to help them get this important work done by a decent hour?

Lastly, they are so important, and yet they are all alone in the very bottom level of the parking garage as one teeters between life and death while the other desperately tries to keep him alive.  There is no one else in the garage, and they are too deep below ground for the Account Representative’s cries to be heard.  And there is no indication at the end of the story as to whether the Account Representative is actually able to save the VP’s life.  He keeps pumping the VP’s chest and calling for help, but we know he can’t go on forever.

Sadly, when it matters most, their importance doesn’t really matter. 

[1] At least I think it does.  I just read it before writing this Letter, and I’m really not sure what to make of that one yet.  I think that one will take a little longer to digest than some of the others.

[2] Well, actually, the first thing to catch my attention was the overdose of irony throughout the entire story.  Was there a single sentence that didn’t have a touch of irony to it?

[3] Ok, I know nothing of ballet, especially Russian ballet.  But it seemed like a fitting analogy.

[4] The company itself is never named.  Nor do we know what this company does or makes, although they must produce something overseas because they have a VP in charge of said production.


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