“Boss, my computer is down,” Zack said.
“What do you mean, ‘down’?” said Jamie, standing at her office door.
“I mean, it’s not working. I click, and things disappear. I’ve lost my entire desktop. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like the computer has alzheimer’s or something.”
“Not a good joke, Zack,” Jamie said, crossing her arms and frowning.
“It wasn’t meant as one. My Nan had it. It was terrible. She slowly lost everything that was herself. That’s why I’m making the simile. The computer is just, like, forgetting everything.”
“Hm. All right then.” Jamie unfolded her arms and walked over. “Let’s see?”
Zack showed her the desktop with noticeable holes in the files.
“Why do you keep your desktop so cluttered, anyway?”
“Because that’s how I work. It keeps everything there.”
“Hm. Okay, I’ll call IT and put a ticket in. In the meantime, you can use Glen’s computer. Hopefully it’s just the hardware, and not your account, specifically.”
“I don’t think it works that way, but – ”
“Are you an expert in this?”
“Then leave it to the experts, Zack.”
“Yes ma’am.” Zack stood up and walked over to Glen’s work station. If Zack’s desktop was messy, Glen’s space was the real life instantiation of it. There were chip bags, fast food wrappers, files, and stray papers scattered about. Everything had a post it note, including the fast food wrappers – those with dates. Zack didn’t want to think about it.
There was a small pool of open space allowing his hands to reach the mouse and keyboard. The desk leading to those was a bit sticky, but Zack tried not to think about it.
As the computer booted up, Zack reached down to type in his username. He tapped lightly on the “Z”, and it didn’t move. He looked down at the keyboard and tried again. Nothing. He put his finger above the letter and pressed down with some force. Finally it went down, accompanied by a crunching sound of potato chips or dried sugar.
As he typed the rest of his username, the keyboard made the same sounds. When he reached the “23” at the end, the 3 wouldn’t register. No matter how hard he pressed it, his username remained “zkundrh2”. No 3 at the end.
Zack stood up from the desk and walked to Jamie’s office.
“What’s up?” she asked. “I called IT, they’ll be here sometime between three hours and eight business days.”
Zack nodded. “Well, Glen’s computer is disgusting, and his keyboard is just…I don’t know, I feel like it could literally be a rat’s nest. Or maybe a squirrel’s food hole.”
“You’re telling me.”
“Okay, well, I’ll put you over on HR’s spare computer. But try not to mess this one up, Zack.”
“I’m not even trying!”
“I know. But so far, every computer you touch seems to be turning to lead.”
“It’s a lifelong curse.”
“Try to fix it, would you?”
“Mm.” Zack grunted as he left.