There was nothing in the employee handbook about this. He knew, because he had checked three times, each time looking under a different subject heading. There was absolutely nothing relating to swashbucklers, buccaneers, or corsairs, although there was a brief section on pirated software. Mr. Wentworth had read that section eagerly, but had learned nothing about actual pirates and a whole lot about copyright laws. Mr. Wentworth put a long thin index finger to his temple, and tapped his head nervously. Finally, after two minutes of deep thought he picked up his phone and anxiously dialed a number.
"Yes, hello? Well, actually it's a bit of an emergency, but I'll hold if I must," Mr. Wentworth poked his head apprehensively half-way over the edge of his cubicle.
"Gaarrrrrrr!" a raucous voice yelled from across the office. Fearfully, Mr. Wentworth hunkered down behind his desk. After what seemed like hours to Mr. Wentworth, but was actually about two minutes and thirty-three seconds he had an opportunity to speak.
"Y-yes, I'm in a rather unique situation here," Mr. Wentworth spoke tremuously, "am I on the employee hotline?"
"Oh, I don't care all that much about confidentiality at this present moment. I'm a little more concerned about my cubicle being pillaged by bloodthirsty pirates." Mr. Wentworth twittered nervously, "Yes, that's right, pirates."
"No-no ma'am I am most certainly not trying to waste your time, there are actually pirates pillaging my office at this moment," Mr. Wentworth paused as an angry voice harangued him from the telephone receiver, "I assure you, I'm not whispering to avoid my coworkers hearing me, I'm whispering to avoid a cutlass in my jugular."
"A cutlass? It's a short sword with a curved blade which was . . ." a Compaq monitor flew over top of Mr. Wentworth's cubicle and crashed into the wall beside his head," . . . used by sailors and pirates during the seventeenth century."
"Well, yes I'm quite aware that the seventeenth century ended over three hundred years ago but there are indeed pirates in my office right now," Mr. Wentworth hissed, "and they are using cutlasses."
"A falchion? Well they might be using those too," Mr. Wentworth continued, his voice shaking, "whether they're using a falchion or a cutlass or a sabre they all fall into the category of sharp metal objects which are notoriously dangerous when waved about by drunken privateers."
"No ma'am, I'm most certainly not trying to give you lip, as you say. You will have to forgive my manners right now as it is difficult to be courteous when a band of pirates is marauding your office."
"The police? Well, yes of course I considered calling them but the employee handbook explicitly states that emergency numbers should only be dialed in case of fire or an accident. As for violent situations, only senior staff have the authority to call the police in such a case and I'm afraid all of the senior staff have been taken as galley slaves."
"No ma'am, I didn't realize that my employee handbook is in direct contravention of the law. But as I said before, all of the senior staff have been taken as galley slaves."
"I really don't know where they parked their galley but if I had to venture a guess I would say that they parked it near the canal --- our office is directly adjacent to it, as you know," Mr. Wentworth cowered as a bottle of rum soared over his head and smashed into the wall not far from where the computer monitor had struck a moment earlier.
"Well, yes, obviously it's a smaller boat; more of a sloop than an aircraft carrier," Mr. Wentworth chuckled despite himself, "Oh, no ma'am, I'm not laughing at you, I just found my earlier statement humourous."
"See an aircraft carrier is so large and a sloop is so small I found the juxtaposition to be amusing."
"Yes-yes I realize that it should be difficult to laugh during a pirate invasion, but you have to understand that sometimes humour is the best medicine during a particularly stressful time in your life," Mr. Wentworth was thumbing through the employee handbook for an entry under privateer, "No, I really don't need a psychologist, what I need is some advice on dealing with marauding pirates."
There were some entries on employee privacy in the handbook, but nothing on privateers, "if you could search the regulations for the standard response to such a situation I would be most grateful."
"To be perfectly honest, ma'am, the only person whose time has been wasted is myself if you hang up now as you say you are going to," Mr. Wentworth growled with something approaching anger in his voice, "Now please tell me what I must do . . . Why are you laughing?"
"Yes, I did say it was good medicine for stressful situations but I think you'll agree that the stress you're under pales in comparison to my current level of pirate-induced stress," Mr. Wentworth's gangily fist tightened angrily as he pounded the air furiously.
"Robert Louis Stevenson?" Mr. Wentworth queried, his anger subsiding slightly.
"I'm afraid I don't have time to read an entire novel and I'm certain that his novel would not offer any solution to my current problem as it was written long before the era of photocopiers and faxes, thank you very much."
"Yes, you're quite right, photocopying and faxing won't thwart a band of marauding buccaneers, but I'm sure you understand what I meant. You see, it's ridiculous to think that a nineteenth century author could offer a solution to a twenty-first century office being invaded by seventeenth century pirates."
"He wrote fiction, ma'am, and I have no time for that in this real life-threatening situation that I find myself facing at this present moment."
"Yes ma'am, I understand that you find my account fairly close to fiction and I would too if I were in your situation," Mr. Wentworth gave a ragged sigh, "so, please ma'am, can you offer a solution? That is what they pay you for, isn't it?"
"I apologize, I shouldn't have said that."
"Well yes, it was more of a sarcastic question than a statement and, yes, I should have used the word asked instead of said; but I don't think think this is the time for grammatical nitpicking," Mr. Wentworth nodded impatiently, as if unaware that his gesture would remain unrecorded by the device in his hand. A barrel of what Mr. Wentworth assumed to be rum rolled down the aisle and past his cubicle before slamming into a photocopier.
"That noise? A barrel of rum which rolled into a photocopier, that's all," Mr. Wentworth bit his lip nervously.
"Oh? You have some advice?" Mr. Wentworth listened carefully and then nodded. He carefully hung up the phone and slid onto his haunches under his desk. After all, he decided, what could one do during a pirate invasion but hide under one's desk?