Outline for COG IN THE MACHINE (A play about office life)
A man sits up in his cubicle, a la the Nokia ad, and wonders whatever happened to his childhood dreams? He thinks: “Did I forsake them for a life helping rich people get richer and simply pushing keys on a computer?”
He tries to break free. But the struggles are a real challenge.
Temptation 1 is money. It’s what he’s used to and he has a steady flow of okay income. But it goes to taxes, to maintaining an apartment he can’t really afford. It goes to gimiks with friends who have nothing much to say. It goes to vices like buying stuff, and smoking, drinking. He is a born consumer and money keeps him consuming. It keeps him in a trap of constant kayod. Vicious cycle.
Temptation 2 is his comfort zone. The people he’s worked with for the past 4 years are all friends, the office he works in is physically comfy– the material comforts are great. His computer is great. His Tetris score is great. It’s all so comfy and relaxing, and why change it? Plus his home is near to the office, as he always planned.
So one day, he sees someone break free from the machine, and realizes that he himself is trapped in something he never actually saw. He was blind to it.
This breaking free causes him to wake up. To fully see the stuff he does at work:
- make rich people get richer
- sell products that don’t help the poorer people of the world
- sell his soul to the corporate machine, because once he goes to work, he has no energy for anything else after the job ends.
With eyes wide open, he starts getting in touch with the people who formed him, who might be able to help:
- a. His friends, but they are all cogs also. And cannot help him see the light.
- b. His teachers, who all aspire to give up their teaching to join the machine because it makes money.
- c. And then he meets a secretary who is really a nurse, who goes out to the orphanages every weekend.
- d. He meets someone who teaches deaf people special classes in computer.
- e. He meets a businessman who has started a business that sends books over to the poorer schools in the provinces.
- f. He meets people who remind him that there can be no happiness if life is lived for yourself. He thinks: “There has to be a way you can incorporate a giving of self to others.”
So he goes back to work and brings these ideas to his bosses who ridicule him and say that there is no time for such shenanigans. And the spies are set out on him.
He volunteers on weekends to help out at the orphanage. The spies see it all. When he leaves the office at the end of the day, his email is opened and read. He takes classes so that he can teach others. And the spies know what subjects he takes. His computer’s files are drenched and examined. The spies gather all the information there is to find about his life outside the office.
And then he is confronted by the bosses: you are spending way too much of the office’s resources for your private life: explain.
So he does.
And he is terminated. The machine cannot exist with other-centerd people in its midst. Sorry. Goodbye.
And he is on his own. And wondering what will become of him.
And the secretary nurse invites him on her weekend service. And the business man calls him up to ask if he can lend his marketing skills to the book project. And the deaf teacher says he should consider teaching also once he masters the basics. And a whole new future opens up for him. Away from the machine. There is life outside of the machine.
END OF PLAY