The Wake Up call

I woke up in the morning with a spring in my step. At least, I’m assuming that the spring in my step was there when I first woke up; I obviously didn’t discover it until I was out of bed and engaged in the act of stepping. To be honest, the precise moment that the spring in my step was first present isn’t really the salient point here; all you really need to know is that, at the moment when it mattered, i.e. when I was stepping, the spring was definitely there.
But why was it there? Don’t look so worried, I’m not expecting you to have an answer; it is a rhetorical question. It is just another one of my many ingenious dramatic devices that I employ from time-toTime in order to create a certain amount of tension. But is it really necessary at this particularly early stage in the story to build tension? Come on, answer me! I said, is it really necessary? What’s wrong with you? Can’t you tell the difference between a rhetorical question and a genuine one? No, obviously not, shut up, that was a rhetorical question you fool, I don’t need you to answer! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to lose my temper. Join me in the next paragraph where I promise to be the perfect gentleman.

I made the journey to work, past the infamous Pelican crossing – yes, the very same. It now has a commemorative plaque on it incidentally, that is inscribed with: “as made famous by David Eagle”, and then the URL of the blog post in gold lettering, http://www.davideagle.co.uk/from-chickens-to-pelicans.OK, I’m exaggerating, as you may have suspected. It wasn’t the full Url; it didn’t have the “HTTP://www.” prefix. Well you can’t expect the council to fritter away money willy-nilly, especially in this current climate.

I entered my office. The spring was still very much apparent in my step by the way, just in case you were wondering. I would have told you if it had gone. What kind of a writer do you take me for? That was a rhetorical question.

My spring-loaded step transported me to my computer. I switched it on. Opened the document. Entered the print menu. Selected my printer from the list of networked printers. Hit the print button. Sat back in my chair, and waited. And then, that message appeared on the screen. That same-old message making that all-too-familiar proclamation: “sorry, the device cannot be reached”. The device cannot be reached? But you are less than a metre away from the “device”, you stupid computer! You are practically touching each other. In fact I am pretty sure I can sense the sexual tension in the room between the two of you, you are that close.

But what had gone wrong? I thought today was meant to be a new beginning? Yesterday, for the first time, having worked in this place for a year and a half, the printer had finally worked. After 1 and a half years of this same message telling me that my “device can not be reached”, it had finally capitulated and had started working. When I first started working here I was a much less cynical and more optimistic person. I suggested to the IT people that the problem might easily be fixed if we connected the printer to the computer via a cable; but my suggestion was immediately dismissed. The response from IT was that this would only add “unnecessary complications”. In fact, it seemed to appear that any intervention at all from the IT department would have added “unnecessary complications”, since the IT department’s solution had been to simply ignore the problem and do absolutely nothing. But then yesterday, completely unexpectedly, an IT man had ventured into my office.

“ah, hello, I think you must be lost” I gently told the man. I made sure to adopt a calm and collected approach with him, after all it must have been terrifying for him to have found himself outside the confines of the IT department. Goodness knows how he had got here. In all the time I’d been working here I’d hardly ever seen anyone from the IT department. But when on the rare occasion that they did respond to a call, they had always come in pairs. In all my time in this job, I had never seen a lone IT man. But now here he was, standing in my office, this living, breathing paradox, this lone IT man. This needed to be handled with tact, I thought. Perhaps he had set off with his companion, but somehow they had got separated, and now he’s come wondering aimlessly into my office. I could mention my printer problem to him, but this was hardly the time or the place. It must be distressing enough for him – bracing this unfamiliar territory alone, unable to reach his IT friend – without adding further trauma by suggesting that he tries to fix an IT problem. Hmm, perhaps they should have connected themselves together with a cable.

The man’s response to my gentle greeting took me by surprise. He did not seem dazed, confused or afraid. He informed me, in a very jolly tone, that he was here to fix my printer. Well, now it was me who was feeling dazed and confused. I asked him to repeat what he’d just said, which he duly did, and yes, I had heard him correctly, he had said that he had come to fix my printer. I stood there shocked. And then I flung myself at him and embraced him, which was a bad move because I got tangled up in a cable. What was he doing with a cable? Maybe he was connected to his friend after all. I extracated myself and apologised, explaining to him that his statement had come as a bit of a shock to me. He chuckled and made his way to my computer. Hang on a minute. He chuckled? An IT man with a sense of humour?! In all my time working here I had never seen anything quite like it. He then did something that completely knocked me for six. He reached behind the computer, and connected a cable. My goodness, so that’s what the cable was for. He then moved over to the printer and connected the other end of the cable to the back of the printer. He then went into the print menu, selected the printer and hit the print button. And the printer burst into life. It started to print!

“”There you go” he declared cheerfully, “just needed a cable connecting. This particular printer isn’t really compatible with the network, you see”. I stared at him in amazement, not only because he had just fixed my printer by attaching a cable (which I had posited as a solution to the problem over a year ago), but also because he had actually spoken to me in clear English, rather than just muttering incomprehensibly and then slumping out of the room.

“What a brilliant end to the working day” I thought. “This would be a new beginning!” But as we’ve already established, it wasn’t. Because here I was, the very next day after this miraculous event had occured, and the printer was not working. But the IT man had fixed it. He had connected it with a cable.

And then it came to me: perhaps he had done the job surreptitiously. Perhaps he is a rebel IT man. After all, he was working alone. Perhaps he is an IT insurgent, on a mission to do good in the world, to go against the grain and … fix IT problems. I should have known that these orders couldn’t have possibly come from official channels. He was jolly, he was working alone, he fixed my IT problem in a matter of seconds without any fuss and without the usual literny of nonsensical excuses – the deluge of IT jargon. He had spoken in plain English. He had used a simple logical solution. He had used a cable. He had a sense of humour! Of course he was a rebel.

O no, he had probably been found out. He was probably being reprogrammed at this very moment, screaming in torment as management signed him up for yet another pointless NVQ with endless amounts of theory work; that would keep him away from interfering with any real IT problems for a good while. Yes, the IT department had obviously found him out, and then under the cover of darkness had come into my office, wrenched out the offending cable and burned it.

I checked the back of the computer. There was no cable. I checked the back of the printer, just in case it had somehow merely become disconnected. But the cable was gone.

But how did they find him out? I thought back. Had I said anything about it to anyone? Yes, unfortunately I very much had. I had spent the remaining half an hour of the working day celebrating this extraordinary event by printing out letters to all of my colleagues, apologising for the times that I had hijacked their printers and thanking them for their patients and understanding over the last year and a half. I then shared with them my excellent news that an IT man – of all people – had come into my office and fixed my printer. Therefore, I would no longer be annoying them on a daily basis; well, at least, I wouldn’t be annoying them about printing, I could now focus my efforts on devising more creative and entertaining ways of annoying them. I printed all these letters out and then hand delivered them to all of my colleagues.

So basically I had told everyone. Someone must have been a whistle-blower, and reported what had happened to IT. I should have known, there was bound to be someone who sympathised with the enemy. And now that poor IT man had been found out. And it was all my fault.

I picked up the phone and dialled a colleague. I was sure that this particular person would not have been the whistleblower; I was positive that I was safe confiding in him. I explained that my printer was once again none-functional. He seemed nonplused. “But it’s never worked” he replied. How could he have forgotten? “It was fixed yesterday, remember?” But he didn’t remember. “We chatted about it at length. I was over-the-moon. I gave you a hand delivered letter that I printed on my printer, telling you all about it”. “I didn’t receive a hand delivered letter, I certainly didn’t have a conversation anywhere near as dull as that, and anyway, yesterday was Sunday”.

Yesterday was Sunday? Of course it was. But I don’t work Sundays, and I was off the previous week, and it certainly hadn’t been more than a week ago when it had happened. It was yesterday. I was sure of it. That’s the reason why I had woken up with a spring in my step, because it was my first day at work with a functioning printer. This meant that I would no longer have to annoy my colleagues. I might finally be liked. I might even be popular. I had sown the seeds of peace the day before with my personally printed, hand delivered letters. Today was going to be the new beginning.

I cast my mind back to last night. Now I came to think about it, I wasn’t particularly enthused about anything before I went to bed. It was when I woke up that I felt the excitement and had that spring in my step. O no, it must have been a dream. My colleague laughed at me. I hung up.

I must have dreamt the whole thing. Of course it wasn’t real. It was too unbelievable to be real: the jolly IT man who actually fixed computer problems, who spoke in plain English, had a sense of humour. Of course it wasn’t real. Of course it was a dream! It was obvious.
But then the worst part about the whole thing hit me. What kind of man in his twenties has a long and detailed dream about his printer at work? But not only that. What kind of man in his twenties has a long and detailed dream about his printer at work and then wakes up that morning feeling elated because his printer is fixed, and then runs to work in excitement, impatient to print out some documents? Certainly not the kind of man that I wanted to associate myself with. Has my life really become this dull? Evidently yes.
I decided that this incident would serve as a wake up call. I thought I was a man of excitement, adventure and ambition. But my dream and then my real-life response to it had shown me what kind of person I had become. What ever happened to all that ambition? All those ideas? What happened to those dreams? I was going to bring the adult chicken comedy movement into the 21st century for goodness sake. I used to think big. Well from now on things would be different! I would heed this wake up call. It would be a catalyst for change. From now on I would live a more exciting and adventurous life. I would once again be that man of ambition and energy that I used to be. I would recapture my youthfulness. It hadn’t disappeared entirely, it was just lying dormant, in need of being reawakened.
Well, from this moment onwards, things, would, be, different!

But first I had to get these documents printed. I walked down the corridor and asked one of my colleagues whether he would mind me using his printer for a bit. OK, well maybe I’d have to wait until the end of the working day before I could start thinking about reawakening my youthfulness. But I bloody well would do it. Just as soon as the working day was over. And I’d had tea. And done the ironing. And finished my tax return. And … O fuck!

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