On Wednesday afternoon – the one last week, rather than the day before yesterday – I found myself seated at a municipal computer. There had been many to choose from, two different varieties, and I chose one of the newer and shinier models because that’s the kind of guy I am.
Time passed, brambles creaked, that sort of thing. Then I decided that I was thirsty. As luck would have it, preparedness is one of my assets, and to that end I had in my satchel a plastic bottle of water. Instinctively backing away from the computer because I’m good like that, I allowed some dihydrogen monoxide to moisten my crispening innards, and then returned the bottle. I went back to going about my business.
A man came over. No ordinary man, but a technician man who is in IT. Balding, a waddling sort of man, he wore a sweatshirt, and a tummy that if attached to a female would suggest the early stages of pregnancy. He had seen me drinking the water, and as a result was angry. He pelted me with flak. “We don’t eat or drink at computers,” he ruled. (Of course, I hadn’t been eating, but presumably he wasn’t confident about which verb was appropriate. Quite sensible, really.)
“Sorry,” I said, in apology. The man misinterpreted my statement as a request for him to repeat what I hadn’t heard or understood clearly. “Sorry,” I said again, I think. I can’t remember it very well. By now he understood, anyhow.
“No more!” he said, and then he disappeared.
Being a delicate little flower, a sculpture of glacé icing made with rosewater and fairies’ tears (the same thing), I was trembling. He had made sure that I would not be able to hold a bottle in my hands for several moments. The man may have suddenly thought, “yikes, maybe he is capable of handling liquid and not spilling it everywhere.” (I am.) But then he would have looked down at my shaky hands, and that sight would have been a soothing reassurance that he had been right to be concerned. I couldn’t have fought back.
I think the ruling smacked a little of Nazism – I certainly don’t want to trivialise that horridness, and “a little” is a key phrase, but what I’m trying to say is that it was overly strict and petty. (Clearly, IT is dull to be in, and fun angriness japes are required to dilute the monotony.) I was drinking water – nice, independent water from out of a borehole via a tap, no less, none of that corporate bottled nonsense. Water, unlike tea and coffee and friends, does not leave any kind of sticky stain. I for one know only too well what a nuisance a sticky mouse can be – only the other day, there was one covered with a kind of sparkly Gloy Glue ectoplasm, and it was devastating. But this was water. If it’s pointless to cry over spilt milk, what does that make getting stroppy about water that wasn’t even spilt because I am careful and had even taken the trouble to instinctively back away from the computer?
Imagine if I hadn’t hydrated myself. I might have fainted, scraped my head on the corner of an anvil, and squirted blood all over the place. I might have crumbled into grains of dust, like that chap in one of those films involving Harry Potter. I had saved him and his colleagues from several hours of clearing up dust or blood, and this was how the ungrateful scrote responded.
It is true that I can be quite clumsy with water and things. When I have been in the bath, and nature calls, I have to dash to the abutting room with the toilet in it, and often the reduced time for drying means that I will leave suspicious puddles on the floor. The other day, I also accidentally allowed some wee to dribble onto my towel. As it happens, it is unfair to dwell on this incident – the lightbulb in the bathroom had stopped working, forcing me to bathe in candlelight, and I think that had an impact, even though the room in which we keep the toilet was perfectly illuminated. (Curiously, this lightbulb died in the aftermath of Earth Hour – thanks a lot, Al Gore.) But how had the man found out about that in order to do this extrapolation? Clearly the horrid creep has been goggling through the window at my bathtime exploits, which I find just a little bit creepy.
A day or so after the confrontation, when I was sitting on my bed in preparation for going to sleep, I upset a cupful of water. Again it is unfair to use this as a basis for allegations that I cannot be trusted to safely operate some water while in close proximity to a computer – I had a big mattress beneath me, which is like the ultimate paper towel if you ignore the portability aspect, and this put me in a happy-go-lucky state of mind. I was far from any kind of computer. The cup had a wide neck compared to my bottle. But clearly the man had seen this too, in order to have reached his grotty conclusion that I couldn’t be trusted with my plastic water bottle. He had been dubiously looking through the window of my bedroom – not an easy task, this must have involved a ladder, and somehow he had managed to bypass the curtains – and seemingly had travelled into the future to do so.
He is made out of magic. What is a worryingly dubious time-travelling magical man with X-ray eyes doing in IT? It’s a matter that urgently needs to be investigated.
Does he spy through everyone’s window? Somehow I feel that doing so would give the man an awareness that a one can have a moderate level of private clumsiness that doesn’t translate to the real world. So, why me?
I should point out that moments after the outburst, I heard someone say something about how someone or something was “trying to be cool, with an emphasis on the trying”. “With an emphasis on the failing,” added someone’s chum. It is not healthy to assume that the world revolves around oneself, as Galileo will testify, but the I can categorically state that coolness was 110% not being sought. Perhaps just that I thought they might be referring to me is food enough for thought. I don’t know. (I mention this because maybe it’s a wanky bellwether for various things.)
Zap ahead to late Thursday morning – again, the one last week, rather than yesterday. There is a man of some authority at one of the computers (one of the more classical ones). He has a mug, which is quite likely to be full of tea or coffee, standing right next to the computer. His jaw pulsates, supporting the theory that some kind of chocolate digestive biscuit or cinnamon swirl or Latvian teacake is being eaten. He strides towards the office in which the men who are in IT live…