“God, what is that?!??” Jerry shielded his eyes and hissed as if he had been burned.
“That’s the sun, Jerry,” Tilly looked over at her coworker who seemed to be shrinking into himself.
“Is it always so… so bright???” Jerry slowly stretched out his pasty-white arm into the noontime sun.
“Yeah, Jer. You’ve just been holed up and plugged into that machine for who knows how long, you forgot what the afternoon sun feels like. It’s nice isn’t it? Being outside, breathing fresh air,” Tilly breathed in deeply and lifted her face up to the sun.
“Well, I don’t know… where are the reviews? How many people found this experience to be positive? I need to read at least a few reviews before I can make up my mind. And if there were a few articles about the benefits of sunshine and this ‘fresh air’, as you call it, I could make a decision a lot quicker,” Jerry nervously scanned his surroundings, almost as if he hoped the data he required would magically appear in front of him.
“Sheesh, you have been connected for way too long. Jerry, you don’t need all those things, just take a moment and think for yourself. Can’t you just feel that these things are good without having to read about them on some lifeless box?” Tilly felt a little sorry for Jerry. He had grown up in an age where the computer reigned king and with so much information waiting at his fingertips he had missed out on experiencing many of the everyday things that people from Tilly’s generation, who had grown up without this ‘benefit’, took for granted.
“How long has it been, Tilly? I can’t take much more of this. There is so much I should be doing, so much I’m missing. I mean, I don’t even have my Ephone! What if something happens? What if the system is back up and news breaks on a celebrity or a new uprising begins in the Middle East while we are out here? We’ll miss it, I won’t know anything!” Jerry’s very real panic was beginning to get on Tilly’s nerves. The Ephone, or “everything phone” that was always attached to either Jerry’s ear or hand was also useless since the ‘event’ earlier that day.
“The world will go on, Jerry, believe me. And you know what? You will too. So get a grip, you’re starting to irk me,” Tilly picked up her book, flipped to the page with the earmarked corner and started reading.
“But what… what am I supposed to do? I have nothing to do, Tilly,” Jerry looked down at his hands and then over to his coworker on the park bench next to him.
“Here,” Tilly thrust a sketchpad and a pencil into his lap, “why don’t you doodle or something?” she said before turning once again to her book.
Looking at the somewhat foreign objects he had been handed, Jerry flipped to a blank sheet and hesitantly picked up the pencil. “This feels weird,” he said more to himself than to Tilly as he grasped the pencil. Looking up at Tilly for further direction and seeing that he would receive none, he began to move the pencil around on the page.
After about two hours passed, Tilly stretched her arms and looked over to see what had managed to occupy Jerry so thoroughly. She had almost forgotten he was sitting next to her. “Wow, Jerry. That is…wow, that is incredible!” Tilly was astounded to see a beautiful sketch of the fountain in front of them, then, peering closer she realized that what she mistook as lines and strokes were actually zeros and ones. “I drew it in code so I would know what colors to paint it; if I ever come across any paints, that is,” Jerry looked almost ashamed of his art, but then a gleam of pride skittered across his face.
“Jerry, you have to show this to someone, I mean this is good enough to be hanging in a gallery somewhere!” Tilly couldn’t contain her excitement for her shy friend and coworker. “I have a friend who is connected in the art world, if you want, I can give him a call and see if he’ll take a look at it, what do you think?” Tilly started rummaging in her black hole of a purse.
“Sure, I guess… if you really think it’s good,” Jerry rubbed the back of his neck and grinned.
Before he knew it, Jerry had been commissioned to create 10 additional works to be presented as a small part of an exhibit at the “Fringe Festival” in two months. He was the talk of the town. Soon Jerry forgot all about coding, blogs, online forums and programming and immersed himself in his art, spending uncountable hours traveling to parks, hiking mountain trails and pushing up sand with his toes at striking beachscapes in his search for inspiration. He began to travel, met new people and began to see inspiration wherever he went.
After he set up his chair and pulled out his sketchpad, Jerry took a moment to breath in the beauty all around him. He had heard that Glacier National Park was beautiful, but the intensity of color and beauty of his current surroundings was beyond anything he could have expected.
Buzz buzz. Buzz buzz. Buzz buzz. Buzz buzz.
The alien sound startled Jerry and it was a few seconds before he recognized what the sound was. Digging through his knapsack, Jerry found what he was looking for at the bottom of the bag. “I don’t even remember putting you in there,” Jerry said to the device. Hitting the ‘on’ button of his long-forgotten Ephone, the screen lit up and revealed he had 889 new messages and texts waiting. “Oh my God. They must have launched the new satellites and rebooted the network,” Jerry instantly forgot about his sketch and Glacier National Park and for the next five hours was fixated on the small device in his hands.
“Jerry, what’s up with Outlook? I can’t find my contacts and why can’t I see the message the way it used to be?” It had been 6 months since the Internet and communications systems had come back online and Jerry was back in a cubicle, fielding IT questions like this one.
“Ok, Marcia. Let me take a look,” Jerry pushed a notepad and pencil out of the way and started hacking at the keyboard.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: The server at work went down today. So for five long hours, I attempted to be productive without the benefit of using my email, the intranet with ALL of my documents, the Access-based database I use or (say it ain’t so!) the Internet. Initially, it was kinda funny wandering around the halls, peeking in on everyone to see how they were coping. Everyone’s office was sparkling within the first hour, including mine, as if a spring cleaning epidemic had hit our college forcing everyone to break out the paper towels and Lysol. After there was nothing left to dust or sort, people either gave up and went home or started going through files or other menial tasks. I had extinguished every possible work-related task I could think of within about an hour so I gave up and started doodling. I doodled for about three hours today. Really makes you think about how reliant we are on technology and how people with jobs like mine are rendered useless without it. Not a fun feeling.
TWO: The Fringe Festival is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this weekend in Orlando. I’ve always wanted to go and check it out, so hopefully I will get the opportunity to do so this year. I always think of my friend, Pam who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland when the Fringe comes around so, “Hey Pam!”
Leave a story idea for Friday in a comment! Come on… all the cool kids are doin it!
Love & Squirrels.