Orientation: And Other Stories
Faber and Faber
“Orientation” is from Daniel Orozco’s debut collection, ORIENTATION AND OTHER STORIES (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011). Daniel Orozco was a Scowcroft and L’Heureux Fellow in Fiction in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University. His stories have appeared in the Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies, Zoetrope, McSweeney’s, and other publications. He lives in Idaho.
Electric Literature wrote: Orozco’s story, “Orientation,” is so good it was published and anthologized a full decade before headlining its author’s debut collection.
Orozco said this about writing “Orientation:” Between graduating from college and going back to grad school, I worked for about ten or so years as an administrative assistant in various office venues in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I didn’t have a steady job, I temped. The temp is always the new employee, and in every office I worked at, I was taken on the office tour. Sometimes on these tours I was told more than I needed to know about my co-workers, and during my temp assignment I was often privy to intra-office animosities and desires. (The temp always leaves, so there’s no risk in telling the temp, right?) Or at least, I felt that way–confided in, and imposed upon. Perhaps my co-workers simply told me what people tell each other when they try to make friends, aspiring toward a collegiality that I didn’t want any part of, back then.
In any case, “Orientation” kind of arose from this tension between separateness and intimacy. You could work next to someone for years and never meet the family or visit the home; you could know everything about somebody you weren’t very close to. In this way the office seemed a strange and paradoxical place, and thus a rich and inviting arena for drama.