Thursday, May 28, 2009
How I met my DH
I heard my coworkers talk about him before I met him, this computer whiz kid with a 4.0 grade-point average from MIT. Word was he was going to save us from our dismal destiny, daily predicted by the Wall Street Journal. I had already noticed his car in the Apple Computer parking lot. It was a long, white Plymouth, a defiant display of American pride, so unlike the Toyotas and Hondas driven by everyone else in California during the 1980s. A blue and white sticker pasted to the back bumper said, “Honk, if you hate the IBM PC.”
I heard his voice before I met him. Most of the other software engineers talked softly, if at all, murmuring to each other about the latest affront on our entitlement. “Did you hear? We’re not going to get free Friday morning bagels anymore!” But his voice, with its East-coast volume, traveled over cubicle walls.
The first day I met him, I was sitting in my 8 by 10-foot cubicle, furious at my Lisa computer that would not do what it was told. I sat tensed in my not-so-ergonomic chair, surrounded by line analyzers and other test equipment, ready to pound my fist into the cute, greyscale icons on the Lisa's screen.
“Hey, Priscilla,” I heard from outside my cubicle. It was Ralph, a happy-go-lucky coworker who spent more time wandering the cubicle maze than actually working. “Our project has been canceled and we’re out cruising for chicks!” he announced in a jolly tone. “Have you met my teammate, Alan?”
Visible behind Ralph were a pair of huge, dilapidated sneakers, and a set of long, skinny legs in tight, Levis jeans. Above a lean torso and thin shoulders, a pair of wire-rimmed glasses peered out from wild, frowning eyebrows. The comment about chicks was not sitting well with this young gentleman.
Being in no mood for interruptions, I quickly shook the slender hand, and glared at the intruders. Then it occurred to me that I might be able to benefit from this unexpected visit from the local genius. I put on a smile, and said sweetly, “How would you ignore the high-order bit from a byte? I'm trying to read a character from the keyboard and the high-order bit is useless and I hate Pascal.” Without a millisecond of hesitation, Alan leaned forward and said kindly, “It’s not too hard once you get used to it. You just have to do a modulo 128.” With a quick grin, he and Ralph disappeared from my doorway, and moved on to the next cubicle in their search for chicks. I knew at that moment that I didn't want this Alan character to meet any other chicks besides me!