30 Stories in 30 Days #1 – “Unforgettable”
Closing her menu, April asked, “So, Barbara said you worked in IT. What exactly do you do?”
Matt shrugged. “The joke in the department is we deal with monkeys and idiots.”
April raised an eyebrow.
Matt chuckled and closed his menu. “It seems like ninety percent of the problems we deal with in our company fall into two categories. The first results from people who have no clue what they are doing and as such are terrified to do anything. These are the people – usually the older ones – who call us whenever their computer beeps and they wonder if they did something wrong. Sometimes we can convince them over the phone that everything is fine, but often it’s like they’re afraid of cutting the wrong wire and we have to go to their desks and handhold them through printing a page or something. The old joke is they’re like monkeys looking at a math problem.
“The second category of issues comes from idiots. These are people who don’t know what they’re doing, but go ahead and do it anyway. A couple weeks ago, there was this guy whose computer picked up a virus. Instead of just running a virus scan and being done with it, he went, ‘I know what’s infected and I don’t need it anyway.’ So he deleted a program that wasn’t infected – and he did need – and then he went on for three or four more steps which just made things worse before he finally gave up and called us. I went to see what was wrong and as he’s telling me everything he did, I have to bite my cheek to keep from calling him an idiot. In the end, I had to reinstall a bunch of stuff and run the virus scan to get rid of the original virus.”
“Is it really that bad?”
Matt shrugged and smiled. “Well, the technology is … well, simple in theory. You can set up a way for all the technical stuff to work together. But then you throw in the human element and that all goes out the window.”
“So, you work in a vet’s office?” Matt asked.
April smiled. “Yes. I keep track of the appointments and billing. But the animals that come in are either sick and throw up or they’re nervous because it’s a new place and the pee on everything. And since I’m the new girl, I’m also on vomit and pee duty.”
“Sounds like fun.”
April groaned. “Well, it’s less glamorous than it sounds.”
Their waitress arrived with his beer and her merlot and took their orders for her chicken quesadillas and his medium, New York strip.
Once the waitress left April and Matt smiled at each other. April sipped her wine, then asked, “So, where are you from?”
Putting his beer down, Matt pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. “Evansburg, about three towns over. You?”
“Oh, some small town near Baltimore nobody’s ever heard of. But I have relatives in the area, so that’s why I went to the university, and I just stayed here.”
“What did you major in?”
April laughed. “A bit of this, a bit of that. After six semesters, I still didn’t have a major so my dad put his foot down and said I either had to pick a major and stick to it or pay for college myself. So I dropped out and – after several short-lived jobs – I now work in a vet’s office.”
Matt nodded and sipped his beer. “You met Barbara in college, right?”
“Yes. My roommate my first semester was a slut. It seemed she was always off in some guy’s room or had some guy in our room. At least four or five times a month I’d come back from a class to find a sock or bra on the door handle. Barbara and her roommate Jun were the social center on the floor with their door always open, so I usually ended up hanging out there. I really wish I could have made it to her wedding.”
“Yeah, Barbara said you couldn’t make it because-”
“Because my dad was having heart surgery.”
“How is he?”
“Mom had hoped it would slow him down, but so far it doesn’t look like it.”
Matt smiled and sipped his beer.
After a moment, April asked, “So, how was the wedding?”
Matt grinned. “It gave me a headache.”
Shrugging, Matt explained, “Standing in a hot church for … hours, I don’t know it just gave me a headache. I missed most of the reception because I slipped out to my car to take a nap.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
Again Matt shrugged. “Well, I joke with our younger sister Sue that since I missed most of David’s wedding I can miss most of hers. She didn’t seem to appreciate that.”
“Oh, there are three of you?”
“Yeah. You have any brothers or sisters?”
“An older brother. He’s in the Army as a tank mechanic.”
Matt sat up straighter. “Wow.”
April laughed. “The family joke is someday he’ll bring his work home with him.”
“That, that would be bad.”
“Yes it would.”
Matt took another sip of beer and glanced around the restaurant. On one of the TVs above the bar they were replaying a tackle and the commentators were drawing lines all over the screen. He looked back at April when she said, “Can I ask you something?”
“How long has Barbara been trying to set you up?”
Matt chuckled. “About a month after she started dating my brother.”
“Ah.” When he didn’t say anything, April asked, “Well, what are you looking for in a woman?”
“I don’t know.”
“Surely there has to be something.”
Shrugging, Matt explained, “I think it’s along the lines I’ll know it when I see it. It’s just, my first girlfriend in high school and my college girlfriend both screwed me over to the point that I’ll no longer play the game.”
April furrowed her brow.
“It’s, like all the crappy dating advice would be that, even though I’m not an animal person, I should be like, ‘Working at a vets must be so interesting. Please, tell me more about cleaning up animal vomit.’”
“But as I said, those two girls burned me and now I’m like, what you see is what you get. I mean no disrespect to your job, but as I said, I’m not an animal person and I won’t fake an interest in it just to minusculely increase the chance you’ll sleep with me.”
In the middle of her laugh, April snorted, which made her cover her face with her hands and Matt to smile.
“Sorry,” she said when she dropped her hands. “I hate when I do that.”
Before Matt could say anything, she added, “But I know what you mean. The last guy I went out with was this big football jerk. I swear, it was like every other sentence was about football. I mean, I can watch a game every now and then, but he had like six fantasy teams. I tried to follow what he was talking about, but by the end of the evening he so killed any interest I have in football that I don’t care if I ever watch a game again.”
“There’s a guy like that at work, he-”
A buzz came from April’s purse. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said. “I thought I turned it off.” She took her phone out and looked at the screen. After a moment she tilted her head to the side. “What?” she whispered. Looking up at Matt she said, “I swear this isn’t one of those phony messages to ditch a date, but my friend sent me a text that doesn’t make any sense. Do you mind if I call them, then I swear I’ll turn it off.”
“No, go ahead.” Out of the corner of his eye, Matt saw an animated discussion going on at the bar. He turned to see some guy waving his phone at the bartender.
He heard April ask, “Hey, what did you text me?”
The bartender reached under the bar and came up with the clicker. As he changed the channel on the TV and the man with the phone called out, “Hey everyone, you have to see this.”
The TV screen now showed a large banner reading, “Breaking News.” The bartender increased the volume and after a moment the banner was replaced with an anchor standing in a studio. “Hello, and welcome to this groundbreaking moment,” the anchor announced. “We here at BNB have just received confirmation that astronomers from the Allen Telescope Array in California have detected a radio signal that they say is ninety-nine percent likely to have come from an intelligent extraterrestrial source. I say again, it appears that we have just discovered proof that we are not alone in the universe.”
Matt looked over at April; her phone forgotten in her lap. He smiled and picked up his beer and held it in front of him. After a second, April mirrored him with her wine. “I just want to say,” Matt said, “that even if nothing comes of this date, it will be one we definitely will never forget.” He then clinked her wine glass.