Tonight was different. Every other night was the same, me, working late in an old office building in the sketchy side of Cleveland. I work for New Dreams Accounting, a software company that goes by NDA. This confuses potential clients who immediately think Non-Disclosure Agreement. The company isn’t doing very well, hence the lean IT support team that has been weaned down to me and guy named Jayson with a y and refused to be called Jay for short. Jayson refused to work after 6pm, leaving me mostly alone except for a security guard who was usually sleeping or masturbating in the executive bathroom. There were rumors of messy run-ins regarding the latter.
Most nights I handled 30 to 50 tech support calls related to application performance, incorrect passwords, random Java script errors and more performance issues. Performance issues were always the worst and most frustrating for the end users. After three years, I gauge my customers’ dissatisfaction by the number of “fucks” during our call. Performance issues typically resulted in three or more “fucks.”
It was sometime after 9pm when he showed up, crashing through the unlocked door, staggering toward me. Dirty hair, baseball cap, non-funny zombie eyes and a grey short sleeve tee. He was waving a small pocket knife and had strings hanging from his arms which after closer review were tracks from shooting heroin, or something strong used to forget. He yelled something about being sick and needing a couple bucks. I had no cash on me. He started yelling louder as he approached my desk. The eyes were unfunny from a distance and were now frightening as they appeared to be full of blood. I looked around for anything of value wondering if the security guard was near climax in the john. I grabbed my laptop and slid it over to him, “take it” I told him. He looked down and stopped yelling, inspecting the laptop “Is that Windows XP?” I nodded. He put away the knife, “what the hell am I gonna do with that old thing? I can’t get 2 bucks for that man.” I put my hands up, “I have nothing, sorry.”
“Pills, do you have any pills?” I didn’t but it did trigger a thought. I asked him to sit for a second. I didn’t ask him to sit still because he was in heavy withdrawal and there was no way he was going to be still for anything. I go to the kitchen area, just steps away and open the refrigerator. I reach into the far back corner and pull out a bottle of champagne, left from a celebration over a year ago, the last time we signed a new client. On my way back I grab two coffee mugs. At my desk my guest is watching me and then looks back at my laptop, “you should upgrade man.” I pop the top, pour two cups of champagne and we both drink them down. He asks me what I do and about the company. I explain and his response is “Like Non-Disclosure Agreements?” The phone is ringing non-stop when I pour a second round. He proposes a toast, “to NDA and burritos smothered in cheese.” Sometime during our second drink the security guard shows up and takes my new friend away.
I shut off my computer and fill up my cup, emptying the bottle. Maybe tomorrow I will ask for an upgrade. I take a drink and leave the phone ringing.