The Other Ones
by David Housley
Alan Squire Publishing, 2022
Reviewed by Ashley Espinoza
“Congrats, you’ve won another day at work,” My dad said to me after the Powerball had reached almost 1 billion dollars and my two tickets, which I spent $4 on, didn’t win. Imagine if I had gone to work and my coworkers were all celebrating because they had won. That is what happens in Dave Housley’s novel The Other Ones. This novel follows the lives of those who did not play the lottery, but their coworkers did. Each person who played won 8.8 million dollars. The other ones, the ones who did not win, are left behind and the reader gets to follow them in the office for a year.
Dave Housley dives into each character’s lives and how their work and personal lives are affected by the big one. Most of the winners quit, making the other ones have to pick up slack. One guy continues to work despite being rich. The Other One’s made me question what I would do if my coworkers were rich and I still had to come to the office every day.
Housely knows how to write office workers, and more importantly office workers who are mostly millennials. There are references to Super Mario Bros, Alanis Morissette, Office Space, Mo Money Mo Problems, and Harry Potter. One guy, Gibbons, only thinks about what he will eat for lunch, fantasy football and getting a milk frother to froth oat milk. And not just any oat milk, but a specific brand he can’t even find at his local grocery store. He thinks about buying a mini fridge to store his oat milk in his cubicle. It doesn’t get any more millennial than that. His work day is affected by his coworkers winning the lotto, but that does not stop him from considering what he will consume for the day. This man even goes into great detail about his choices, whether or not the parking lot will be full, if the restaurant will have veggie chili, if he should get a burger or a burrito. Every working person’s dilemma; what to eat for lunch?
Yoder is one of my favorite threads in this book. He comes to work to find that his younger co-workers won the lottery and instead of dealing with the aftermath he decides to go to the roof of the building and jump. He comes back as a ghost. Instead of being able to freely haunt anyone or go anywhere, he can only see the kitchens of those who have won. While he’s in the kitchen of his former coworkers the main thing he can think about is getting a computer so he can track the data of his ghost life. Even when dead he still can’t turn off his office thinking.
“He looks for a laptop, a computer. He wonders if he could activate a screen or a keyboard. He realized for the first time that he will never again access an Excel document.”
This man is dead and he is concerned with Excel spreadsheets. I love it. It shows how ingrained we are to our work even if we hate it. Yoder couldn’t stand to be at work another moment, yet his afterlife is filled with his coworkers and his strong desire to get to a computer and try to open Google Sheets. Even as a ghost he cannot escape the consequences of his coworkers winning. Housely writes this character brilliantly and gives some thought on how much we are tied to work. Even in our own death there is a possibility that we cannot escape work.
Craver is another character who thinks about work even though he doesn’t need to. Craver quits his job and hits the road, Jack Kerouac style. He had dreamed of a vagabond lifestyle before he hit the road, but his coworkers winning the lotto pushed him to finally do it. Craver sometimes played the lotto but sometimes didn’t, and when he found out he didn’t play the winning ticket forced him to look at his life and decide to walk away. Though he can’t fully walk away. He is in love with a woman coworker who still works for the company. He sends her texts on his Great American Road Trip. He even finds himself trying to access his work email account and receiving emails about filling out his paperwork about leaving the company. I enjoyed seeing this man be free from work, but still being tied to it at the same time.
Other characters include a woman who takes her job more seriously than she did before, a man who decides to finally pursue his dream of being a writer, and a man who considers his own life and is jealous of Yoder who committed suicide. He thinks he should have maybe done the same so he no longer has to go to work or deal with life. Each character represents a different idea of all the things we as humans consider doing. At times I have wanted to pack up my belongings and hit the road, or the other side of me pulls me to be better at my job to earn a promotion. This book gives the reader the chance to experience many emotions tied to work.
Though Yoder is dead he is what brings everyone back for a gala in his honor. This book gives us what happens after your coworkers win the lotto, but it also gives us what will happen if one year later you put all of those same people in the same room. Who still has resentment? Who has moved on? And what are those ex-coworkers like now that they are millionaires?
Each character and their decisions have different consequences, like being forced to see those who won the lottery at a gala, or being sucked into being a better worker. Or trying oat milk and loving it and wondering why the hell someone took the damn milk frother.
I think I would stay at work. Start a lottery fund. Wait until it was my turn to win. Then I too could blast Biggie Smalls in the office and never look back.