I was working at home one Friday several years ago when a customer called. Big problem - system down, end of month, president screaming, could I come at once?
Well, yes, of course, but.. my car was in the shop for repairs and my daughter was off with my wife's car.. I suppose I could take a cab..
No need, they said. We're sending a car right now to pick you up. He'll be there in twenty minutes.
Well, OK. I told my wife what I had to do, changed my clothes, and sure enough, a car soon pulled into my driveway.
Silver limousine. Uniformed driver. My neighbor was across the street raking leaves. He raised his eyebrows as I came out and the driver held open the car door. I briefly explained what was going on.. "Wow", my neighbor exclaimed, "they must really need you!"
Well, yeah, I guess so. During the ride the driver told me that he had taken some very important person from the airport to this company that morning and was waiting to bring him back when they asked him to go get me. Why not, they were paying him anyway. So I wasn't all that important, but still, it was nicer than a cab ride.
At the job, I didn't do much. As it turned out, the problem was minor and I had them back up and running very quickly. I hung out a bit to make sure everything was OK, and then asked about getting back home.
Small problem. The limo was off taking the VIP back to the airport. I could wait.. no, I'll call a cab, I said. No, no, they wouldn't hear of it. We'll get you home.. Jim can take you. Really, no problem, he can go right now.
Jim was summoned. He turned out to be the maintenance guy. Sure, my house wasn't too far out of his way and he was going home anyway. No problem. We headed for the parking lot.
Jim's vehicle was a pretty beat up white van. The back was cluttered with tools and buckets and who knows what, and the passenger seat was piled high with stuff too. Jim tossed all that in the back and apologized for the piles of empty cigarette packs and discarded food wrappings under my feet. Jim wasn't the neatest guy I've ever met.
The van wasn't in great shape either. It was noisy, seemed to burn oil, and the brakes squeaked loudly when we stopped. I think the shocks needed changing too; it wasn't a comfortable ride. Jim was fine company though, regaling me with stories of office politics the whole way.
When we arrived at my house, my neighbor was still raking leaves. We squeaked to a halt and I disembarked in a minor flurry of Big Mac wrappers and perhaps the odd cigarette butt. I had to slam the van door twice to get it closed and then Jim sputtered away, leaving a smell of oily exhaust behind him.
My neighbor leaned on his rake and offered his take:
"So, you must have screwed that up pretty badly?"
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-05-08 Anthony Lawrence
Technology is both a tool for helping humans and for destroying them. This is the paradox of our times which we're compelled to face. (Frank Herbert)