A Geek Tragedy
©2011 D. Paul Angel
It was just like any other regular old, craptacular Tuesday. Someone downloaded a virus from eBay. Margot locked herself out. Again. Tom in accounting crashed the Access form that the vendor guaranteed would never, ever, not in a million billion years crash. (Tom’s kind of an Anti-God in that way.) And then, well, then Cynthia called.
Sweet, beautiful Cynthia. Beautiful, stunning Cynthia, who never has a problem; so, I never need to come over and help; so I never talk to her, Cynthia. And I yeah, I know she has a boyfriend who could benchpress me with one arm while yawning, but still, today she needs MY help. Today is going to be MY day!
Well, it was supposed to be....
When I got to her cube and I saw the pic of her boyfriend gone, I wasn't sure the day could get any better. Then I saw the sundress she was wearing. O.M.F.G. And her hair was just, wow. And her eyes... Oh those beautiful, blue eyes... Well you get the picture. Anyway, she tells me how she has to resize the page for printing, but it's just not working. "That gets everyone," I say with confident reassurance, "Excel never has been any good with printing. In fact this one time I had to get everything on one page and it was hundreds of columns and tens of thousands of rows-" Oh God! She looks bored! OK, steady lad, just fix it and then ask about her.
"But you didn't care about that," I say to save myself, flashing my best, Devilish grin, "let's take a look"
Thank God she brightens again. She brightens the whole office like a, like a, well... like really big, bright light. I don't know. Sometimes words just fail, y'know? I just wish the brightness had stayed. "All we have to do is go to the ribbon bar," I suavely say, "And click on... Uh... Just click on... Um." Then, just like that it’s gone. Click on... What? I had no idea. I'd been fixing boxes since I was nine. Nine! And now, no clue. I had no idea. Insert? No, it, it didn't even look familiar. DATA? Well, I guess we were changing the data, right?
No, DATA wasn't it. There: Sort! Wait, no, sort doesn't help. Filter? What If Analysis? That can’t be right. She's looking at me funny now too. "I'm not an idiot. I'm not!" I desperately want to scream at her, but I-- I’m suddenly afraid it might be a lie.
OK. Focus. REVIEW? What about clicking REVIEW? There’s like nothing here I recognize. Except Spell Check. She already seems to be squirming impatiently, I don't really want to show her her own mistakes. Okay. Think. THINK. This can’t get any worse.
FORMULAS! There’s got to be a formula for it, right? Oh Holy Hell what’s this? Books? Icons of different colored books? Really Microsoft? Really!?What am I going to do with those? I don’t recognize anything on this ribbon at all. She’s not just fidgeting she's looking around. She's looking for a polite way out. Crap! OK, got to hurry. Click something,. ANYTHING!
PAGE SETUP! Yes its got to be here. Rows to repeat? Orientation? Freeze Panes? That’s got to do something clever... Dammit, I turned 'em off. Slow down, look at the screen. Left to right. Left to right. Just think-
Wait, no! NO! don’t call Frank over, Don't!. C'mon, Cynthia don't, he’s like a total douche! I’ve pwned his ass dozens of times. And look! Just like that! The panes are back! See, I fixed the panes! "The panes are back!" I say triumphantly. My reward is a blank face with pity and impatience fighting for dominance. I tried to sound debonair, I swear, but is it even possible once you realize you can feel your armpit sweat being wicked into your shirt?
"No worries Frank," I say, trying to be casual, but really hoping I can save it "I got th-" did she just roll her eyes at me, "I mean, that is, I got this." Impatience won. It didn't look like it took long, either.
Frank comes over, ignores me, smiles at her, reaches between us and points to the "Scale" button. He's so close to her they're almost touching. I even back up to give him space but, he doesn't take it, and she doesn't seem to mind. In fact, she smiles at him. HIM!
He pats her back with familiar ease as he leaves and her smile just widens. I know its over, but I still utter, "I, uh...," before I can catch myself. Not that she'd deign to hear it anyway. Her back’s to me, the mouse is already in her hand, and I’m, simply, forgotten.
I walk away a defeated, hollow, shell of a man. You only get one chance with Cynthia they say. One. Chance.