“Anything broken can be fixed. Although, sometimes it’s better in disrepair.” JSM
Chapter Twenty Five
During the brief time between graduation and the print shop, I never found solid roots in any employment offered. I started at the Summer Printing Program, moved to Friendly’s, then left the restaurant for a grocery store. I was terminated from the store and found a sandwich shop which I helped manage for two years. Things got crazy in the sandwich industry and I quit.
Shortly thereafter, I assisted a friend with a garbage truck and piled trash for a period of time. I picked up a position as a bottle clerk and tossed empty cans for a stint before landing at the steel mill which I invested five years of life.
After the layoff from the mill, I juggled a few miscellaneous odd jobs before finding home within the walls of a print shop.
At a gas station is where I spoke with the owner. It just so happened we knew each other, but not well acquainted. He was tall, had a dark goatee streaked with gray, matching the hair on his head, and I didn’t recognize him with his sunglasses on.
“Hey. You’re Jeremy, right?”
“Yes, sir. Good to see you again. Been a couple years.”
“I talked to your old instructor a few months ago and he said he had no clue what you were doing now. Are you still in the business?”
“No. Haven’t found anything in the area. Well… one… but it’s quite a haul from home.”
He placed his items on the floor so we could chat, “You knew we’re moving the old building to Vikery Street, right?”
“Are you still working in law?”
“No. That’s the point. I’m getting into graphics work now. Give me a few weeks to finish settling in and I’ll call you. I’ve opened a print shop and the copiers are on their way. It’s a growing business and I couldn’t resist. I only have to get the remainder of the staff to the new location, set up shop, get some training done and I think I may have the right spot for you. If you don’t hear from me in two months at the latest, call this number.” He handed me a card and pointed to an office line.
“Hey, that’s great, Kurt. I’d love a chance to be on the team. That sounds awesome. Do you work with any presses?”
“Two as a matter of fact, but not like the ones you’re used to. They’re already set up and running. We picked up a contract with a state department and we change new data and information as the details trickle through to us. It looks as though we’ll be picking up more within the next few months, but the presses are run by seasoned operators. We’ll mostly be doing design work locally, and running high-speed copiers. That’s where the money is.”
I nodded my agreement. “That makes sense. I look forward to talking again, Kurt. Thanks a lot.”
He paid for his items and smiled to me, “Next time we talk, I’ll be your boss.”
We shook hands and parted ways. Three weeks later he called me and we set everything up, and the senior staff placed me in a work station that suited my experience. I received a decent evaluation after one month of service and an increase in wages.
Which led to this point in the tale.
What the… Oh no. Oh no! Oh nononononononono. What is this? Where did it go? Refresh. Home screen. Click, drag. Open, open, open. Where are you? Is it in here? No. Here? You gotta be kidding me. Be cool, be cool. Don’t lose it. It has to be here somewhere.
You’re a dead man.
I glance to my co-worker, “Uh… Lewis? I may need your help.”
My immediate supervisor had his face inches from his terminal, squinting at magnified details on the screen and had to clear his throat before replying. “What is it?”
“I can’t seem to find File 005. I was just in there a second ago and now it’s gone.”
He kept his focus on the computer and his back to me, “It just doesn’t disappear. Did you look in the directory?”
“Yes, and the trash and the home file and opened other folders to see if it was dumped elsewhere by accident. I can’t find it.”
“Move.” He pushed away from the terminal and rolled his chair across the small room to replace me at my spot. Lewis looked in all the same places, applied the same searches, ran the same troubleshooting techniques and leaned back in his seat. He pushed out a sigh between pursed lips and shook his head. “Hold on, let me try this really quick.” He hit a series of buttons, crossed his arms and looked to me, “Yeah. This isn’t good. There’s like… a million bucks worth of contracts in 005. What did you do?”
My hands raised and my eyes opened wide, “I have no idea. Can we call support?”
“No choice. It has to be found. Kurt will lose his mind if we can’t get it back. What did you do?”
Four hours later it was determined that whatever I did was permanent. File 005 had vanished from my computer. No shred of it’s remains could be recovered from the hard drive. As though it never existed in the first place.
However, it was real.
I used 005 often through my work week so I know it wasn’t a figment of my imagination. 005 was indeed a real file.
I knew it was a real file, because the owner was pulled away from his family fishing trip to address the issue.
He arrived during the third hour of tech support; watching two technicians plugging and connecting machines together to find what it was I lost. Searching feverishly for any scraps of data.
The owner paced throughout the factory; arms crossed with his gaze to the floor. Kurt was devastated and I could tell he was sick with nerves every time I looked his way. At times a quivering hand would rub his stomach as if he was attacked with a wave of nausea. He’d look to the roof overhead and whisper a series of words then disappear around the corner to sit in the office with the door closed.
All I could do is wait. Watching the staff dart their eyes my way, whispering to one another from their individual office spaces. They could’ve been discussing work, responsibilities and daily duties, but my gut told me I was the topic of conversation. I couldn’t handle the stress any longer and I slinked out the side door to pace around the backyard.
After a few minutes of alone time, one of my co-workers poked her head around the corner and asked, “Are you alright?”
“I don’t know. I feel like I was punched right in the stomach.”
Now more comfortable she approached me and lit a cigarette. “It’ll be fine. They’ll find it.”
“That sounds good,” I sat on the surface of a picnic table and dropped my feet on the sitting bench, “but what if they can’t?”
“Well, my guess is they’ll recover the data elsewhere. Contact the department and reissue the old files. Maybe start it over again. We can fix it. Anything can be fixed.”
She put my mind at ease for a moment. Everything can be fixed. It sounded good in theory.
What’s the worst thing that can happen? Oh yeah… you’ll get fired. That’s what.
No. They won’t let me go. He sought ME out, not the other way around.
She dropped the smoldering mentholated filter in the sand filled bucket beside us and smiled, “Let’s go back inside and see what’s up.”
I walked slow beside her, my hands stuffed deep in pockets, and within the factory and surrounding office spaces the tension in the air seemed to vanish. The employees were bustling across the floor, carrying products, pointing to documents, nodding agreements while detailing designs.
As though nothing happened.
When the owner exited his office, followed by his senior staff and two technicians, the blood drained from my face and my heart thumped and fluttered in my chest. He stopped at the center of the room, pressed a number on a phone connecting him to a loudspeaker for downstairs employees and bellowed, “Everyone out! Take lunch or whatever break you haven’t had yet! I want this building empty in thirty seconds!”
I turned my back, weaved into the crowd to follow suit, blending in with my head hung low like everyone else, but when I heard in a lowered tone, “Everyone but you, Jeremy,” I felt the oppressive overbearing sensation of suddenly weighing two thousand pounds. Both legs morphed into concrete pillars and my back arched pulling my attention to the colored tiles between my feet. All my energy drained, my shoulders slumped and the inside of my mouth turned into a barren desert. I had the inability to pull my hands from the pockets of my slacks, and I was unable to pick my head up to address the senior staff to look them in the eyes. Lewis was the last to walk by and he patted my lower back with sympathetic taps on his way out the door.
The factory foreman spoke first, “Let’s go downstairs and have a talk.”
Yup. You’re a dead man.
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