Craig, the building manager for my office, had come all the way into the basement to find my co-worker, Ken. But Ken was not there; he had the day off.
Ken had done Craig a work favor, circumventing the bureaucratic process by which work requests for our team were normally processed. Ken does things like that. He’s not, at heart, a functionary.
However, the favor involved two steps: first unplugging, then re-plugging (if that’s a word) a computer and all it’s peripheral devices. In between the un- and re-plugging, a group of sturdy men would disassemble a desk and work unit and reassemble it in a different, superior, configuration.
The favor was needed because the person who used that computer on that particular work surface in that particular office was located on one particular floor of the building in which I work. The highest floor, in fact, where all of the most important people spent their work hours. People far too busy and important to bother with things like bureaucracy and processes for notifying people like building managers and, well, Ken and I. So Craig had been given very little notice to get this particular, outside-of-the-ordinary work request completed. And so, he had come looking for a favor.
But the cunning plans of Craig and Ken had failed to take into account several factors, including Ken’s memory (he forgot about the second part), Craig’s lack of knowledge of Ken’s schedule (Ken was off today), and the slowness by which the sturdy men had completed their work (they had taken long enough that they were not finished before the end of Ken’s normal work day).
Which brings me back to the morning in question, when Craig had come looking for Ken, and found, not Ken, but Ken’s empty cube in the basement of the building where I work.
In the cube next to Ken’s cube was myself, a giant glazed cinnamon roll, and a steaming hot cup of half-decaf, half normal coffee, with lots of cream and lots of sugar. That’s just the way I like it.
“Ken’s not here,” Craig said helplessly.
“Nope,” I said, and I bit off a piece of my cinnamon roll and sipped a little bit of my coffee.
“He was doing me a favor,” Craig explained.
“I remember,” I replied, eyeing my cinnamon roll and hefting my warm cup of coffee.
“Where is he?”
“Ken?” I asked. Craig nodded. “He’s not here.” This was beginning to sound like a comedy routine, I thought. Maybe I can make it even funnier.
“I can see that,” Craig said. He was normally a patient man but I could detect a small hint of frustration.
“It’s his day off.”
“Oh, he’s off on Mondays?”
I nodded. My coffee wasn’t getting warmer. Quite the opposite.
“He was helping me unplug that computer upstairs.”
“Right.” I could smell the cinnamon and the sugar glaze. Wait. Can one smell a sugar glaze? I could taste it. I tasted it.
“But it needs plugging back in.”
“Right.” I nodded. I am not volunteering for anything, I thought.
“The movers are done upstairs,” Craig said.
The suspense was killing me. Why doesn’t he just ask me straight out? “But Ken’s not here,” I said.
“I can see that,” Craig said. “Can you plug it in for me?”
At last! So tempted was I to refuse. However… “Is that where you’re going with all this?”
Craig barked out a laugh of frustration. “Yes! That’s where I’m going!”
“OK.” I carefully set down my cinnamon roll and coffee. “Fine.”
I hate it when Ken does favors for people. It breaks our processes.