Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR

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Summary

Two executives at an unnamed corporation are the very last to leave work, hours after normal closing. They experience the strangeness of the practically-empty building in parallel ways on parallel floors. Finally leaving, the two meet in the underground parking lot, where the senior executive suddenly has a heart attack. The junior executive administers CPR and continually calls futilely for help.

Characters

  • Account Representative
  • Vice President in Charge of Overseas Production

Themes/Motifs

Distance

While recovery is not in sight for the Vice President, it’s seemingly irrelevant whether he lives or dies. Wallace isn’t so concerned solely with the nature of relationships, nor the emotions that relationship brings about, but more so what the experience tells us about the emotions its manifests. The line, “they shared pain, though of course neither knew,” could serve as a working title, because it does well to communicate the overarching theme of solitude in shared pain (48). The story serves as a philosophical investigation of the strange nature of proximity that surrounds human relations. The men of “Luckily The Account Representative Knew CPR” are clearly distanced by their physical dimensions, and yet there is a sense of a collective emotional unconscious in which the two men find themselves unknowingly webbed together. Wallace uses distance in this fictional story as a means of arguing against the solipsist who thinks that they are alone in pain. His use of the aforementioned words ‘having at’ particularly uncovers pain as a mechanism for closeness. The sexual connotation of ‘having at’ as used by Wallace, is in this case bizarrely appropriate. As we see the Account Representative struggling to save the Vice President, who is in turn struggling to live, the two men share in this painful experience and manage to break past the distance that divides their realms of existence.

Voice

The narration is third person and omniscient, but at the same time detached and impersonal. The characters are nameless, signified only by their job titles. This could have to do with the tedium, anonymity, and constricting effects that modern corporate life can have on an individual.