Technologically Challenged

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

Technologically Challenged

Technology enables man to gain control over everything except technology.” –unknown

Harvey had been lied to all his life.  Growing up, his parents had waxed on about the inventions of the world making his life easier.  “Just you wait”, his dad had said.  “There will be countless advancements that will increase productivity.”  For the last ten years of school, the message had been echoed over and over.  “Learn to master this equipment now”, his teachers and professors had demanded.  “If you figure these computer systems out you’ll be better off.”  Harvey shook his head.

Bull, he thought to himself.  Bull and malarkey.

Harvey always harbored suspicions that the electronic world was out to get him.  The day so far only perpetuated that notion.  First off, Harvey’s wristwatch had failed to wake him up.  When his sleepy eyes finally managed to pry themselves open, they were met with a blank screen.  Despite the expensive watch’s claim that the kinetic movement of his body would power the timepiece, the clock had died.  Harvey scurried out of the house, not taking time to shower or eat, and just managed to beat the bus to its first stop.

He was a little rushed, but Harvey felt that he could still make his breakfast date on time.  However, a mile down the road, the bus was forced to stop.  The overhead power lines specially created for the transit system had been knocked down in the evening’s storms.  The bus driver was therefore required to stop the bus, get out, unlatch the feeding mechanism from the lines, drive the bus past the damaged section on gasoline, stop the bus again, reconnect to the city’s power grid, and then continue service.  Harvey hoped that this would be the last unscheduled stop that the bus would have to make, but he would soon find out how wrong he was.

Two stops later, the bus came upon a disabled man in a wheelchair.  Perhaps a regular metal wheelchair would not have been any grave concern, but this was a deluxe wheelchair.  The behemoth that transported the man from place to place might as well have been a sports utility vehicle.  Its mammoth wheels with studded tires barreled onto the bus’s ramp when it was lowered.  The multi-battery operated chair lurched back and forth at the controller’s slightest gesture.  Piercing chirps resonated whenever the one-man RV moved so much as an inch backwards or to the side.  It came as no surprise that the wheelchair was too heavy for the lift.  Upon hearing a grinding sound, the busload of people groaned.  The exertion that the electric system had undergone had frozen the ramp in its current position.  The driver tried to lower it, close it; he even got out and jumped on it.  The driver turned the bus off, toggled the switches; nothing worked.  Since the bus could not move forward with the door open, all the passengers were asked to wait until a replacement bus was available to carry them.

Finally, after Harvey had survived riding on the next vehicle, which had been unavoidably crammed full with the double load, the man arrived at the café.  He had ended up being fifteen minutes late, but he hoped that Rosalind would have the patience to understand.  He looked around at the different coffee tables outside.  They appeared to be oases of calm.  Harvey wanted to sit on their padded seats, sip a latte, and watch the frazzled world go by.  Instead, he found himself pacing back and forth.  He leaned against a planter which once housed a tree, but now served as an oversized ashtray.  He looked back and forth for any signs of his breakfast date.  They had been talking about coffee for weeks and he was wondering if he had ruined his shot with the woman by being too late.

Finally, twenty minutes after his arrival, Harvey pulled out his phone and called up Rosalind.  Her mumbled voice was just barely audible.  Through barely comprehensible tones, Harvey managed to decipher what the woman was trying to say.  She had apparently been kidnapped to a work party that had gone late into the night.  She had sent Harvey an e-mail from her phone cancelling their breakfast date.  However, due to the service coverage in the bar, the message might not have sent.  “Either way”, Harvey commented, “I only check my e-mails in the afternoon.”

Giving up on any pleasantries occurring before work, Harvey hopped on another bus and headed to work.  The bus worked perfectly.  There were no expected stops.  Harvey dared to believe that perhaps technology was on his side.  Then someone from the next bus depot joined him.  Seated snugly on the bench seat next to him, a woman listened to music on her phone.  She wore earplugs, but Harvey would never have known the difference.  Every note, every word, was completely discernible as the tune blasted towards his eardrums.  He closed his eyes and tried to block out the blaring noise.

Three stops later, Harvey was at work.  He ran off the bus, accidentally pushing a few people as he went.  He found himself standing in front of the elevator doors.  Much to his chagrin, the only set of stairs was alarmed.  They were only to be used in case of emergency.  So it was dictated that Harvey stand with the huddled masses waiting for the arms of the elevator to take in the down-trodden working class.  Harvey heard the familiar ding, watched the shiny brown doors open, and stepped to the back of the elevator.  He knew to expect a long wait.

Sure enough, the elevator stopped on the second floor.  Then it ceased moving long enough to deposit fellow building-dwellers on the fourth floor.  After that came the fifth floor, the seventh floor, and the eighth floor.  Harvey closed his eyes and tried to ignore the ads that were displayed on the monitor above the button panel.  It was as if the elevator knew that he was a captive audience until the thirty-seventh floor.

Twelve minutes later, Harvey arrived at his office.  Before leaving work yesterday, Harvey’s boss had stated that he would be unreachable.  There was a closed-door meeting, complete with phone conferences and presentations, which simply could not be interrupted.  However, he assured Harvey that everything he needed for the day would be waiting in his e-mail.  Harvey turned on his computer, dreading the list of things that his demented boss thought could be achieved in one day.

Just as his monitor warmed and lit up with electric-life, Sara came along.  Harvey did not know what Sara was supposed to accomplish for the company, but he knew what role Sara relished most.  Sara liked to be the dispenser of information.  It did not matter if Sara was talking about the newest work initiative, the names of the recent hires, or what Bob from accounting did over summer break.  Sara simply wanted to spread news.  Harvey had never seen a memo or phone call that could compete with Sara’s speedy delivery.  There was no successful way to keep secrets from this woman.  Harvey tried to ignore her, but that only made her that much more interested in impressing him with the latest news.  Therefore it was absolutely no surprise when Sara clawed her overly manicured hands into the top of Harvey’s cubicle walls and stood on tip-toe to convey her wisdom.

“Hey Harvey, how’s it going.”  The woman did not pause for a reply, and Harvey knew well enough not to attempt one.  “Did ya hear about the computers.  It is really quite sad.  All the internet lines are down.  I guess there is something wrong with the sever.”

“Server”, Harvey corrected.  “It is called a server.”

“That’s what I said”, Sara glared back through her grandmother pink-glasses.  Harvey had seen uglier frames before, but never on a person’s face.  Most visually repellant frames had the decency to stay on the spin rack in the stores.  Sara was the only one that actually gave them a chance to show their hideousness in public.

“Do they know when the server will be up again?”

“Oh, it won’t be until later.  They told us that we should just assume it’ll be out all day.  I guess there’s some sort of power sugar that got knocked out by the storm or something.”

“Surge”, Harvey corrected.  “Power surge.”

“Right, that’s what I said”, Sara replied.  “How’re we supposed to get any work done?  I mean, I’m an important person in this organization.”

Harvey gathered a few files and held them in his arm as he stood up.  “I’m sure you’ll manage to be just as productive today as you are on any other day.”

Leaving Sara looking confused, Harvey headed to the back hall.  He knew a secret.  Over an inter-office bowling game, a maintenance man had taken Harvey into his confidence.  They were located so high up in the building that the fire alarms were largely overlooked.  Someone had taken the liberty of disabling the door sensors.  Harvey had not directly asked, but the way the maintenance fellow talked and winked, he knew who had taken that liberty.  And today, it was going to be Harvey’s key to freedom.

Harvey opened the door, made sure no one saw him, and climbed the last two flights of stairs.  He opened the door to the roof and breathed a sigh of relief.  No one else was about this early in the morning.  In the summer elaborate parties were hosted on the roof.  Railings had been installed and there was even an awning attached to the access stairwell.  Around lunchtime, a crowd gathered to have lunch and enjoy the view.  But today Harvey was early enough to be the only one around.

He breathed in the fresh air.  The skyscraper was on the edge of the city.  From his spot, Harvey could see a few buildings around him, but mostly it was the ocean that filled his view.  The overnight storm had cleared away nicely.  All the scenery had been wiped cleaning from the wind and rain.  He found a dry chair, sat down, and pulled the files from their folders.  He sat, looking at paper copies, resting in a seat with no controls or buttons, and read by the sun in the sky.  This, Harvey felt, is how simple it is supposed to be.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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