Wednesdays are the worst days of the week, partly because of the their location, sandwiched between a mess of three days on either side, but mostly because they contain afternoons, and nothing is quite as bad as a Wednesday afternoon.
This particular day was no exception. The afternoon dragged on like a six hour board meeting and promised to be less exciting than C-Span when congress was out of session.
For the third time in as many minutes I turned to my black and white computer screen and clicked the check messages button. For the third time I found myself disappointed.
I stood up and grabbed my coat. I needed some fresh air, and if no one else was in the building I didn’t see how one more person would be missed.
Bright sunlight met me as I stepped outside. When you live in a windowless world you forget about things like the time of day, the sun, the clouds and even the sky. It was hard to imagine that such a warm and carefree realm existed so close to the cold confines of office life which so easily can consume ones entire spirit.
Outdoors the world was bustling with activity. Students played cheerfully at frisbee, while the more studious of the group sat on blankets and read heavy textbooks. The students where laughing happily, enjoying the camaraderie of other people their own age, a current luxury that many of them would no longer have access too once they moved out into the harsh cruel world of real life. It was always easy to forget about such things in the safe and closed environment of the campus.
I’m not bitter, it’s just Wednesday.
I turned toward the cafeteria. As much as I typically despise the loud and boisterous crowd which makes up most of the general public, anything was currently preferable to the desolate hallways and classrooms which surrounded me only a few minutes ago.
The cafe’s entrance was a double door into large room. The ambiance was far too bright and cheerful to be one of my local hangouts, but when you needed a cheap meal this was the place to go.
To my right the cashier reclined in her seat, knees bent with feet resting on the counter top. Her blond hair fell well past her shoulders and the look on her face was an even mix of annoyance and boredom. Nail polish in one hand she examined her paint job. As I entered, she looked up, clearly unhappy that she would now have to perform some “work.”
“Two-fifty.” She said blandly, smacking her gum a few times annoyingly.
I dropped a few bills on the counter and walked away, she never even moved to make change. Didn’t matter, I didn’t need it.
Over the main entree line a crowd of people gaped at a small bat, which was perched on the ceiling. I headed straight to the fountain machine in search of some cold scotch. I was forced to settled for some Dr. Pepper… Wednesdays.
Screams erupted behind me as the bat took to flight. I perused the salad bar, wondering if anything on the menu that would satisfy my hunger. It didn’t look promising.
A few minutes later I had a plate of pizza and chips, a dietary staple for the IT variety. I found an empty table in the corner and sat down.
“Didn’t expect to see you here tonight.” Said a tall slender man as his quietly sat down across from me.
I was watching my plate closely, but I recognized the sound of Jim’s voice. Dressed in a brimmed hat and trench coat I honestly couldn’t tell you if the man owned any other clothing. He certainly had a reputation, but what he did to get it or how he managed to keep it was beyond me. I couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t seen slinking around campus and I would be hard pressed to tell you if he was staff or student.
“A man might do many things to escape a life of monotony,” I replied glancing up briefly.
“Oh, if boredom is the problem, I might have a cure.” He said in his cool and sly manner.
Jim had a knack for knowing the details from the underbelly of the school, not that we had much of one. (An underbelly that is.) Yet somehow, he commanded respect from all the cliques, groups and organizations. He was a good man to have on your side if you liked being in the know.
“You have my attention.” I said, finishing the last bite of pizza.
“I heard a rumor that a certain printer isn’t behaving properly. Not willing to talk. Caused a bit of a stirrup, until someone threw it out of a window.” He looked at me out of the corner of his eyes, gauging my reaction. I wasn’t surprised. “Yes, I don’t think there is much you could do for that, but in the same lab someone was receiving virus popups this afternoon, and now it won’t boot.”
That intrigued me more. Though I was skeptical that anything could get through our massive firewall system and security, one can never fully discount sneaker-net.
“Well, I have to go. There’s a secret meeting that may or may not actually be welcome at in 15 minutes. I must prepare.” And with that Jim slipped away and disappeared into a crowd of kids who were just leaving the dining hall.
I finished my chips and drink and left the café. I made my way to the third floor computer lab, the one which was now famous for the flying printers, much to the dismay of most of the administration. I found the computer is question, and attempted to boot it. When nothing happened, I considered my options for repair, and decided to take the unit with me.
I got down under the desk to disconnect the tower from the cables, and noticed a stray unplugged power cord. Mental face-palm. I plugged the machine back in and watched it boot. Thanks to MS Steady State, the machine would be virus free by the time it finished boot, if it ever had one to begin with.
As the computer reached the login-screen, I turned and headed back to my office. The rest of my Wednesday awaited me.
In a small dark office in the back of a well lit building on the unfashionable end of a brand new college campus, located on the remains of a non-existent and ancient civilization there is a man trying to find the answers to life’s persistent technology. – IT Guy Noir