display | more...

Miles of code before I die.

I'm sitting here, at this quiet bubble of a social equinox called a cafe, with my laptop perched on this table, coding my fingers to the bone. I have to get this physics engine complete. Actionscript drives me crazy. One of these days Macromedia will make up its mind on whether or not their code base will be full Java or something else of their own making. Right now, this incomprehensible mish-mash of two languages is becoming unacceptable. I hated math when I was in school. I got into this business for the art of it, the design and application of interfaces- not to do math. Complex math, at that. What does Q equal again? Damn. I've lost it. Gotta go back and re-read the code to find it again.

While perusing the cryptic lines of code in the window my mind drifts and reminds me that there is a world outside of myself. In particular, there is a soft, lilting voice across the room. She is talking to some guy, asking him what he does for a living.

"Oh," he says off-handedly. "I'm a systems engineer." My ears perk up. There is another geek in our midst? Intriguing.

"Really?" she asks innocently. "You'll have to forgive me. The world of computers is a complete mystery to me. My dad used to work for IBM when I was a kid, but I guess that gene didn't get passed on to me. What, exactly, does a systems engineer do?" I lift my eyes from my laptop's screen and glance in their direction. She is young, perhaps in her mid twenties, and she has light brown hair that dances across her shoulders. Her makeup is light and precise, applied in such a way that it is almost unnoticeable. She is wearing an olive green tunic and blue jeans and I cannot help but notice that she has a nearly perfect figure. She reaches out to pick up her mug of hot tea and sips it lightly, her pale white fingers holding the cup gently for its heat.

He shrugs and smiles warmly, as though to give her a sympathetic appeal. "It's not all that complicated," he begins to tell her. He is wearing a button down flannel shirt of a thin material and blue jeans adorn his legs, too. I notice with a quick downward glance that he is wearing brown shoes, the kind found in American Eagle or Banana Republic. His close-cropped dark brown hair hides the ever-so-slowly receding hairline that will most likely leave him balding by the time he reaches forty years of age. He has the appearance of someone who works out regularly, though not rigorously. Already I am growing suspicious of him. He does not look like your average geek. He has the look of middle management and the air of a credit-taking prick. "Mostly I just sit around the office and answer emails from my bosses," he says. "They're always asking me to how to set up a new email account or why their Internet connection isn't working. I guess you could say that I'm their ace in the hole when it comes to management functions. When things break on their systems, they call me."

The girl's eyes glaze over instantly at the words "system", "email" and "Internet," like they hold a Holy power that one must bow to the superiority of. These words she has heard in passing and she probably affixes some sort of digital mysticism to them, too deep for her to comprehend. "Do you know a lot about computers?" she asks him.

"Well, it's all subjective," he informs her. "Most of my knowledge comes from personal experience and just playing around with them. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've broken my own system and had to fix it myself." I read the translation clear as day: he's a dunder-headed idiot and is trying to play off his past mistakes (What does "deltree C:\" do again?) as though he was an intuitive genius. "Over the years I just sorta gained a knack for working with computers." Bingo.

"Mm-hm," she purrs. "So did you go to school for it? I mean, you had to learn about them in school to get the job, right?"

He smiles wolfishly. "Actually, no," he says. "I went to school on a business major. I got the job on a fluke. I was working for them at a low-level position at the time, when I was in college. Some computer virus got into the CFO's system. The tech team wasn't around, so I took some initiative. I've installed a few OS's in my time, so I just wiped his system and reinstalled the OS. By the time the tech team got back from some convention or another, I got the computer up and running on my own. The CFO figured that I knew what I was doing, liked my attitude and promoted me." He shrugs. "I guess I was just in the right place at the right time."

"Oh," she says dejectedly.

"What?" he asks as though he's been slighted. "Isn't a guy allowed to move ahead in the world?"

It's her turn to shrug now. "Sure," she answers. "As long as he earns it."

"Ah! But I did earn it. I fixed the guy's system. On my own." He says it like it was a major accomplishment, a feat worthy of not even Hercules himself. I feel the urge to jump up and call him a blithering idiot, call him out completely in front of this innocent doe.

"What bullshit," she retorts sharply. It catches both him and me completely off guard. What did she just say? "When you frag a system, any idiot knows that you're supposed to do a full backup. Did you?"

He stutters for a second and now I'm the one smiling wolfishly. This babe in the woods isn't so lost after all. "W-well, no," he stammers, "but I-"

She cuts him off with a sigh of exasperation. "So you wiped the guy's system totally, all of his important files and everything, and didn't even do a backup? What OS was it? Ninety-five? NT four-oh-one? Was it even backed up on the Intranet?" I'm almost ready to pounce out of my seat and propose marriage to this fox!

"Huh?" he sputters out. "The what?"

"Oh, God!" she exclaims. "You got the job of systems engineer and don't even know what an intranet is? What kind of moron are you?" I'm just sitting there, my laptop long forgotten as I witness this blinding attack on the guy. She's filleting him right there, on the spot. Who is this chick? Does she have a twin? "Lemme tell you something, pal. Truth is, I'm certified across five different platforms, Mac included. I was perfectly willing to let you prattle on about your dinky little job until you blew it. Bonehead. Wanna know what I do for a living?" He just stares at her blankly, like an animal caught in the headlights of an on-coming Mack truck. She doesn't wait for him to ask, she just charges on. "Network Admin, BeatCom. You mighta heard of us? We wired the state capital building, my first project, back when I was a plebe. I've bundled more CAT-5 cabling than you've got nerve endings in your woefully empty head. Tell you what, why don't you do yourself a favor and try your line of BS on someone else? I got better things to do than listen to some jerk-off opportunist. People like me email-bomb people like you for shits and giggles. Take a hike, pal. My girlfriend's gonna be here in a minute and I'd like for her to sit down in a warm seat."

His response is classic. "Huh?"

"You," she says in one-syllable words that he can better understand. "Up. Now. Done. Thanks for keeping the seat warm. Ciao."

"You have a girlfriend?" he asks, like he's just now catching up.

She glares at him. "Ever heard the term 'bi-sexual'? Look it up sometime." She is no longer cute to me. She is outright fucking gorgeous. I'd kiss her feet in a hot second. She shoos him away like he's a pigeon. "Go on," she adds for spite. "Git."

The guy stands awkwardly in total bewilderment. Not ten minutes ago he was under the impression that he was about to score with this young woman. Now, not only has she shot him down, she shot him full of holes. His ego is deflating like it's been hit by buckshot right before our eyes. He glances at me and I cannot help but to smile at him. The smile is not a pleasant one. He leaves quickly after that, like a dog with its tail between its legs.

When he's gone, she mutters, "Fucking asshole." And then she finally notices that I'm even in the room.

"You know," I say, "Ninety-five couldn't do a backup on its own if it was connected to an Intranet. That was a function dictated only by the sys admin with that OS. It's unlikely he had access to the sys admin's password to do a backup, even if he'd thought of it."

Her face brightens when she hears this. "I know," she says happily. "You in the biz?"

I shake my head and answer honestly. "No. I couldn't afford the MCSE tests. I studied a little, but didn't really delve too much into it. Fell in love with web design instead. More entertaining."

"Really?" she asks. "Whatcha workin' on?"

I shrug. She's a network admin. Chances are that she doesn't know any more about Flash than I do. "A Flash app. Trying to figure out this damn physics engine."

"Which version?" she asks instantly. "Four or five? If it's five, my heart goes out to you. I hate what they've done with the new AS. Drives me crazy."

From then on, I know that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

A woman walks into the room. "Karen?" she asks.

The fem-geek of my dreams looks up at the newcomer and smiles warmly. "Hiya, Brit. I kept the seat warm for you, just like I promised. You got here just in the nick of time. Wanna help this guy out with some actionscripting?"

Brit doesn't miss a beat. "JS, ASP, CGI or PHP?" she asks me pointedly.

I look from Brit to Karen and back again. "Neither," I answer. "Physics engine."

Brit waves it aside. "Oh, no sweat. Fifth-year calc and physics." She strides over confidently to where I am and peers over my shoulder. She smells like apricots.

I'm in heaven, I conclude. I have just died and gone to heaven.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.