The Computer Guy

Image: Cover art for The Feral Chicken of Clayton (and other essays)

I WAS WALKING INTO THE OFFICE the other day, after a delightful 55 minute commute, when I noticed that there were going to be potential productivity problems. Specifically, my computer was gone. All of the cables, mouse, monitor, and other things were there, but no computer. “That’s remarkable.” I remarked to no one in particular.

My neighbor, being no one in particular, responded. “What is?”

I silently responded with a flourish towards the area where 19 months of gainful employment was formerly housed. My neighbor, hearing no response, looked at my desktop (I do not yet merit an entire desk) and then provided enlightenment, by stating with thinly veiled mirth: “The Computer Guy came and took it after you left last night.”

The Computer Guy! What Horror! The very name of this individual struck fear in all worker’s hearts. My poor PC would be mysteriously ‘worked upon’, my files would be lost, and I would be given a replacement computer long enough to grow dependent on it, whereupon it would be whisked away as well. My mind was reeling, my heart raced, when I realized that, even worse, I would now be forced to try and FIND the Computer Guy.

(Please note: The term Computer Guy is gender specific only because the CG himself was alarmingly gender specific. I would never refer to a female who took a similar job a ‘Computer Gal’. I would call her ‘Supreme Computer Goddess’ just like at my previous job.)

After some initial inquiries, some sympathetic souls pointed out the last known location of the CG. Subsequent detective work provided a startling discovery: There was a room on our floor that nobody had a key to, that nobody worked in, and that nobody ever went into or out of. I felt this was my best chance of finding the CG, so, after acquiring sufficient sustenance, (Bag of chips) I sat down to wait. Imagine my surprise at 11:00PM when the janitor came in! Chagrined by this failure, I was determined to do better. After obtaining the ‘real’ name of the CG, I went to security and attempted to discover where he worked.

“I’m so Sorry, but we can’t help you.” Was the very polite reply from security. So much for that. Which led me to the further question – should security be so polite? I want large people with clubs and guns challenging every living being who comes in. I should fear security! I felt lucky to have escaped without a lesson in manners. As it stands, my security force is likely to hold the door when I walk out with computers. But I digress.

Returning to my area, I now found I had no desktop. My computer had reappeared, but I had no place to sit. Imagine that if you will. (I hope to God that you NEED to imagine this) You come to work one day. Someone has displaced your possessions, and workers are now dismantling your area. Your work and deadlines remain the same. You have a computer now, that may or may not work, but no place to go to discover this. In desperate strains, I asked my neighbor who I would address to get some space.

“Well, I suppose that would be the Furniture Guys.” Came the reply.

In a daze, I found a crew of large burly people (some were of a gender I call ‘iffy’) actively displacing a small tech, who was making vain protest about not being in our division. The FG’s scoffed and hurled insults in his direction, and made the logical point that if he wasn’t in the right division, why was his cube being torn down? The poor fellow resigned himself to his fate and went to look for less logical coworkers to discuss this with.

This provided inspiration. I resolved that if I ever had the means to write another memo, I would fire off a suggestion that the Security and Furniture groups swap duties, thereby making both more effective. However, first I would need a place to work from, so I continued in my quest.

I approached the moving crew warily, much as a wildlife photographer would approach a pride of Lions at a wildebeest kill. I picked one that seemed to have sated an urge to dismantle (and that I could definitely address as Sir) and spoke without a trace a fear in my voice:

“Pardon me Sir,” (All workers freeze)

“I don’t want to bother you,” (All suddenly look very bothered)

“but I was wondering” (some angry looks)

“who I would talk to” (rolling eyes now)

“about getting some space to set up my computer?” (Silence)

I waited a moment for the question to settle upon the denim-clad artisans of chaos. They stared at me as if I has spoken in Latin, and they had not been very good at it in school. The largest of them then broke the tension with a scintillating counterpoint: “Who?”

He had me there. I couldn’t muster the will to repeat the performance I had just made without stuttering, and I knew they would destroy me with their ‘Logic’ if I argued. I decided to take a more direct approach.

“Yes, who! Who is in charge of this remodeling?”

To my surprise, I was then pointed to The Door, wherein the Leader, the Creator, the Guru of the floor sat. The Director Himself! Huzzah! I boldly approached this magnificent being, and wisely stopped at His Worship’s Admin., the Queen Bee.

“Hello,” I crooned, with every bit of charm I could muster up. “Might you know who is in charge of the remodeling?”

The Queen Bee replied without hesitation, but not without irony. Alas, it was the worst possible answer I could have received. Can you guess? The most elusive person on the floor, whom none could find, and none could trace, had been put in charge of all remodeling.

It was the Computer Guy.

[Chapter 7 of The Feral Chicken of Clayton (and other essays)]

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