Carver didn’t acknowledge my greeting, but got straight to the point. That was Carver. He wasn’t a jerk, exactly. Carver was a queer duck. “I assume you noticed the sky this morning,” he said.
“What about it?”
“Oh. That.” This was a sort of game that Carver and I played. He would come to me with some urgent problem or project that I already knew about, and I would play dumb. It was our little ritual.
“Yes, that,” said Carver, his mouth tightening in irritation. “I’m putting you on the assignment.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Fix it. I don’t care how, but I want those fish eradicated. I’m de-prioritizing your current assignments. Management wants this to have your full-time attention.”
I sighed. Never mind that my current assignments weren’t particularly important or engaging; the point was, they were my assignments, and I’d become attached to them and invested in their eventual completion. “Why me?” I asked. “Isn’t it Harold’s turn? Or what about Jensen or Wilkins?”
Carver shook his head. “This is too big for Wilkins or Jensen or even Harold. Management instructed me to put my top consultant on the project, and that’s you. I’m led to understand that we need to take as few risks as possible on this one.”
Nice though such praise might be, I was still far from pleased. I was, however, resigned. “When am I supposed to start?” I asked, again playing dumb. I knew what the answer was already.
“Today,” answered Carver. “You’ll have an unlimited expense budget. I know I can trust you not to abuse that.”
“And what about the time frame?”
“Management’s not certain on that, so they simply issued the standard ASAP designation.” Carver rolled his eyes at about the same time I rolled mine. “Why they can’t conduct a little research of their own on these things is beyond me,” he said. “Anyway, you know the drill by now. If you can come up with a time frame and inform me of it, fine. Don’t spend too much time on assessment at the expense of the objective, though.”
“Spectacular,” I drawled.
Carver sighed. “I know I can count on you. Keep in touch.” He turned to leave.
“I’ll be sure to do that,” I said. Carver turned back to me, eyes narrowed. I stared back blandly. After a moment, Carver shook his head and strode briskly off.
“I don’t see why you need to go antagonizing him like that,” said the dog.