The notice was pinned to the cafeteria bulletin board next to the company luau flyer.
NO MORE BOBS!
Bob ate his croissant on his coffee break and stared at the bulletin. When he asked Carlos what it meant, whether it was some kind of joke, Carlos shrugged and went back to reheating his curry in the microwave. Bob finished his croissant, noticing stares from his colleagues as he walked back to his cubicle. As he ate Chinese takeaway in front of the seven o’clock news, the message was repeated.
The newscaster explained that a bill outlawing Bobs had passed. All Bobs were to be rounded up the following day for deportation. Bob thought about his Muay Thai class the following night. He thought about the presentation he was meant to deliver the day after, how he was the only one who could explain the fourth quarter dip in sales for their Middle Eastern branch. Bob tried to swallow his Lo Mein, but couldn’t get it down.
The next morning there was pounding on Bob’s door. On the other side of it were a dozen uniformed men and women. They told Bob he had 15 minutes to get his life in order. Bob packed both warm and cold weather clothing, pictures of his mom and dad, his grandfather’s Purple Heart. He asked what to do with his Japanese Fighting Fish. One of the uniformed men offered to take it and promised Bob he’d find a home for it. They led Bob to a yellow school bus parked outside his apartment complex. Two other uniformed teams arrived, escorting six more men. Bobs or Roberts or Bobbies.
Inside the bus, over 50 Bobs were packed together clutching their suitcases. Some prayed. Others shouted. One in the back cried out that he was really a Rupert. Other Bobs stared out the window with disbelief in their eyes as the bus took them to the edge of town.
Bob was dropped off at a warehouse where he was to be processed. A woman escorted him to an unadorned office and asked him questions about his health, his habits, and his hobbies. Bob was given an option, which the woman pointed out made him a very lucky Bob. Norway or Nigeria? Bobs still legal in both, she explained. Bob asked where he’d be more welcomed. She informed him that although Bob’s were not illegal in Nigeria, talking openly about being a Bob was frowned upon.
Bob found himself in a window seat, staring at the clouds below him, suddenly remembering an image of Aurora Borealis he had seen in a National Geographic when he was a child. He had the mixture of excitement and nausea one feels on a roller coaster. As Bob tried to catch his breath, he searched the clouds for the silver linings people always talked about.