We are unable to access the internet.
Acme Grommets and Gravel is beside itself.
The intern with whom I currently share a double-wide cubicle – a newly hired soul three quarters of a way through his Masters – looks at me with something akin to fear in his eyes.
“Does this happen a lot?”
I nod. “More often than you’d think,” I say.
He frowns, then turns back to his screen.
I want to console him, of course, but I also want to tweak his soft, wrinkly mind.
“My first job,” I say, taking on the role of Office Crone, “was data entry. The computer’s mainframe was housed in the biggest room in the building, probably 20 years before the internet. I didn’t even have a phone at my desk.”
He turns in his chair, blinks at me.
“I used to go out to my car at lunch time,” I say, “and find notes on my car.”
He takes his hand from the mouse, scratches the back of his head. “Notes?”
“Boyfriends, friends. People would stop by, leave invitations to places, addresses, jokes.”
He stares at me.
“Sometimes they would leave pictures of cats doing funny things,” I say.
He brightens. “Really?”
“No,” I say.
He frowns. “But what did you do? I mean, how did you get together with friends without calling?”
Somewhere in the ambient noise of a busy office, I imagine the sound of a crackling fire, my rocker creaking back and forth as I light a corncob pipe. “That was called ‘cruising’, young man,” I say, “and it was part of the fun. Would you run into friends? Would you make new friends? Who knew?”
“That would be weird,” he says slowly.
“It was weird,” I say. “We sometimes had to go back to the Dairy Queen a dozen times before we ran into people we knew.”
He blinks at me. “Dairy Queen?”
I nod sagely. “Biggest parking lot,” I say.
He turns back to face his screen, clicks the Google Chrome icon dejectedly. “Weird,” he says.
I stare at the back of his head. “Yep,” I say. “It was a weird time to be alive.”