I felt that something was wrong when I returned from vacation. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but somehow the offices of Dwindlehouse, Windlehouse, Bindlehouse, and McCormick didn’t feel as…well, as blue as they should.
I wasn’t alone in this feeling, either. The day after I returned, Sue dropped by to ask if I’d noticed anything odd about Ted, whose cubicle is next to hers.
“Aside from the red power tie and the red power suspenders holding up a pair of red power pants?”
“I mean odd for him,” she replied.
“No. Is his taste improving?”
“”Well,” she explained, “he almost never leaves his cubicle. And I keep hearing him chuckle.”
This did sound serious; not what we want from employees. “Has it effected his work?”
She handed me a memo from him. It wasn’t the text, a discussion of the effects of off-shore oil drilling on the Washington, D.C. environment, that worried me. It was the six fonts used and the decorative graphic of a dead fish. I promised I’d keep my eyes open.
The next day I ran into her in the hall. “How are things with Ted?” I asked.
“Ted. The man in the cubicle next to yours. You were worried about him.”
“Oh, that,” she laughed. “Everything’s fine. By the way, I’d like your opinion; I can’t decide on a filename for the Wedtech report. It’s a toss up between ‘Payments and Privilege’ and ‘Wedtech: Investments that Paid Off.'”
I was about to ask what was wrong with WEDTECH.RPT when a man’s voice screamed “Oh my god what is it?!” from across the hall. I ran in the direction of the voice to find Joe, his face white with terror, stumbling from his office.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Ah ah ah,” he said, even less coherent than usual, as he pointed to his office door. I ran inside to see what he was talking about.
On his desk, next to his Penguin 286-10 PC, was a machine considerably taller than it was wide. The top half of it was dominated by a small, black and white screen on which there was a picture of itself, smiling demonically.
“It’s a Macintosh, isn’t it?” Joe was behind me now, and had apparently recovered his voice.
“Yes, it is,” I admitted. “Do you have any idea how it got here?”
“No, but it wants to take over. Somehow I sense it.”
Wrapping my handkerchief around my hand for protection, I turned off the intruder, unplugged it, and dropped it out the window. I held Joe’s hand as I led him back to his desk and his work.
I was almost out the door when I heard him say “What’s this? I never had one of these before.”
I turned around to see that he held a mouse in his hand, a mouse that was strangely connected to the back of his PC. I watched as he used the rodent to click on a file name in the upper left-hand corner of his screen and dragged it to the lower right. “This is fun,” he said.
I will always regret that I didn’t stop him right then and there.
Later that afternoon, I was in my office, happily going over a Lotus worksheet on PACs for American Tobacco, when Ted, Sue, and Joe all came into my office. Ted was carrying a Macintosh, and all three wore serene smiles usually associated with people selling small books and flowers at street corners.
“Hello, Kevin,” said Sue. “We’ve got something for you.”
“I don’t want it!” I declared. “I’ve got a computer.”
“Oh, yes?” asked Ted in a mocking voice. “Do you really want to type ‘COPY SOURCE DESTINATION’ all your life?
“Why not?” I replied. “I used to type ‘PIP DESTINATION SOURCE’!”
“Have you ever tried a Mac?” asked Joe.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I have,” I said defiantly. “Stupid operating system supposed to be so easy! I spent 45 minutes trying to find the command to change a filename. Never did figure it out.”
The three just laughed at me. “Listen, Kevin,” said Ted, “we’re going to leave this here, and we’re going to be right outside the door. There’s no escape. Eventually it will take over.”
I thought about this for a minute. “I love batch files,” I said. “When I’m like you, will I still love them?”
Ted smiled and shook his head. “No,” he answered. “There’ll be no need. Everything will be much simpler.” And with that, they left me.
For two hours I sat there, trying to concentrate on the work in front of me. But all the time, I could feel the Mac beckoning.
Knowing that I had to escape, I decided to play on my captors’ sympathies. So I got up, stood behind the door, and shouted “Oh, no, my hard disk crashed!”
It worked! They all came running in, and in a flash I was in the hall placing a printer against the door. I knew I didn’t have much time, so I ran and hid myself in this very storage closet.
I don’t know how long I’ve been here, but I can still hear the voices of people looking for me. I found a pen and a pad of lined paper, and with them I’ve been committing this story to writing. It’s a difficult task, not only because it’s dark in here, but also because I’m not used to writing longhand. How I long for my PC.
What’s that? Over in the corner. It’s a Macintosh. How much easier a computer, any computer, would make this writing. All I’d have to do is plug it in and…
No! I can’t. Have I no respect for what I stand for? I cannot allow myself to…to…to…