A tumbler full of orange juice would likely short out the world’s slowest laptop, Ellison Kendall speculated while taking a sip of her drink. Of course running over it with her car or dropping it from her eighth floor apartment window would be equally as effective. But at 5:15 a.m., Ellison lacked the energy to make that kind of effort. She hadn’t been up this early since competing in the Ragnar six months ago, but here she sat in front of her laptop, chin in hand, waiting for the remote desktop connection to load. It was taking longer than the sky took to turn from the dull gray of pre-dawn to the soft-hued rust of sunrise.
In frustration, she shoved her chair back and headed to the kitchen to refill her glass. The view from the kitchen sink window overlooked Tempe Town Lake with its calm, blue water. A red-and-white sailed boat glided along smoothly. It seemed a stark contradiction to the knots gradually tightening in her shoulders and neck. She hadn’t been able to log on to the McCullough Realty remote desktop connection from home for four days now. Last week’s fourth floor electrical fire was the root of the problem; high-speed internet access had been temporarily disabled, leaving only outdated connections easily overloaded by the few apartments serviced.
Ellison’s worst aggravation was her rude neighbor who seemed to always be online, making it impossible to work from home. The sluggish real estate market, not to mention her worried boss, demanded the highest levels of customer service. She had not been able to extend that over the past several days. If this went on much longer, she might lose a client or a sale. The risk was too great. Shooting down her last swallow of juice, Ellison decided to take action.
After fishing her cell phone out of her purse, Ellison’s thumbs went to work on a text to her neighbor, JERKin806. The nickname she had chosen for him was strictly a reaction to his bandwidth-hogging tendencies, the number of times he’d hung up on her, and his absolute refusal to cooperate. It was in no way similar to the ‘J. Warren’ label on his lobby mailbox. Except for the ‘J’. She had no idea what it stood for, but jerk seemed to fit exceptionally well.
Ellison: The web is super slow right now. R U on?
Less than a minute later her phone chirped a response.
JERKin806: Yes I’m on. Pulled an all-nighter. Deadline impending.
Ellison: That’s what you said last night. And the night before.
JERKin806: Redundancy police on duty? Next time I’ll rephrase.
Ellison: No need to pretend you’re well-mannered.
Ellison: Etiquette is such an inconvenience.
JERKin806: Kind of like 5:20 a.m. texts.
Ellison: You’re not the only one trying to get work done.
JERKin806: Just the only one trying not to nag.
Ellison: If I could get on the web occasionally I wouldn’t have to nag!
An irritated growl escaped Ellison’s lips as she threw the phone back in her purse.“Idiot,” she muttered, slamming her laptop closed.