FINDLAY, OH—The entire office staff of Altman & Hanson Accounting remained utterly baffled as to what, if anything, should be done in response to the prominent sobbing coming from the cubicle of 36-year-old clerk Jack Underwood, sources reported today.
Underwood, who has been employed by the accounting firm since 2004, reportedly began weeping sometime after 10:15 a.m. and has not shown any indication of stopping.
"He's just in there crying and crying—what are we supposed to do?" said coworker David Hammond, who was not aware of any medical or emotional issues Underwood might have. "At first I thought there might be an-other round of layoffs coming, but [office manager] Sophie told me that wasn't the case, so at least I know that whatever the sobbing is about, it doesn't affect me."
"But still, jeez, I hope he's okay in there," Hammond continued.
Other staff members were also at a loss as to how to approach the crying man. Junior partner Russell Hanson told reporters that he had "absolutely no clue" what to say to Underwood and decided to ask administrative assistant Emily Koe to go talk to the tearful coworker, seeing as she is "a woman and all."
"I really would, but I just don't know him well enough," said Koe, who has worked with Underwood for more than four years. "Someone should call his wife. If he has one."
Thus far, office sources have only been able to speculate as to why the crying is taking place. Accountant James DuBois, who was the first to discover Underwood's uncontrollable sobbing when he stopped by his office and awkwardly dropped off some receipts, said he was pretty sure Underwood did not have any dead or dying pets, but suggested the clerk might be upset about his recent passing over for promotion to senior clerk.
"No one knows why he's crying so hard, but then most people here don't know his last name, either," DuBois said. "I'm not sure what everybody expects me to do about it. After all, it's not like I can just walk up to the guy and, you know, ask him what's wrong."
"He talks to Amy," added DuBois, referring to audit manager Amy Case, who is currently on vacation. "Can somebody go get Amy?
Other theories as to the source of the crying include: recent diagnosis with a degenerative disease; some sort of family crisis; overall loneliness; or probably just something senior accounts representative Paul Greenblatt did. Unfortunately, because Underwood rarely ever talks to his coworkers about subjects other than work, there is little information to confirm or deny these speculations.
Nevertheless, office sources were nearly unanimous in reporting that the sobbing was becoming increasingly upsetting to them and, perhaps more importantly, was making it really difficult to concentrate.
"I feel bad for him, but the least he could do is go out to the stairwell to do his wailing," said Bob Cho, a tax specialist with the firm. "I wish he would just go home, to tell you the truth."
At press time, staff members were considering a variety of plans, including calling Underwood's parents, calling someone in Human Resources, sending Underwood an e-mail featuring a lighthearted Internet video, or just leaving for lunch and hoping that he is gone by the time they return. But whatever the solution eventually turns out to be, the only thing that seems certain is that nobody wants to go over there and deal with him directly.
"Maybe he just hates his job," said one coworker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "That's usually my reason when I start crying and can't stop."