All Cable Tied Up

, | Working | January 12, 2016

(I work as a receptionist and general handyperson at a prestigious Dutch research institute. I am also in charge of office supplies and most computer peripherals, but not all. One of our researchers approaches.)

Researcher: *known high-maintenance individual* “Hi there, I need a VGA cable.”

Me: “Well, I’m not in charge of those; that’s the IT guy and he is sadly not here today.”

Researcher: “But I need a VGA cable.”

Me: “I understand, but I really don’t know where they are kept.”

(It is insanely busy at the reception: film crew in the lobby with famous Dutch people looking up ancestors, several guests checking in, phone ringing, colleague trying desperately to go back upstairs after my lunch break to do his Friday job in bookkeeping.)

Researcher: *not budging* “I need a VGA cable. I was told they are somewhere in a cellar.”

Me: “Oh, that must be the server room! Can you come back in half an hour and we’ll go see if there’s one there?”

Researcher: *not budging* “I need a VGA cable.”

(My colleague gave me the “just go get it done” look.)

Me: “All right, but are you sure it’s a—”

Researcher: “—I know exactly what the one I need looks like. I will see immediately if it is the right one.”

Me: “Okay. Let’s go.”

(We go down to the cellar. I have just unlocked the server room and do not know where the light switch is but I can see a little bit by the hall light, so I start glancing around for the switch. He, meanwhile, starts slapping and sliding his hand around on a bank of switches, plugged-in cables, and such, on a side wall.)

Me: “Please stop feeling around on that wall.”

Researcher: “I am looking for the light switch for you!”

Me: “Please stop doing that! That is not the switch!”

(He keeps doing it.)

Me: “I don’t know what any of that is for! Please stop!”

(He keeps doing it.)

Me: *having spotted the light switch* “PLEASE STOP DOING THAT!”

Researcher: “Wow, you need to calm down!”

(He gives the bank of things one more slap just as I hit the light switch.)

Researcher: “There! I got it! See? I’m helpful!”

Me: *diplomatic silence*

Me: “Here are the VGA cables!”

(I hand him one still in the shipping twisty tie. He SITS DOWN on a technical stool and begins to examine it closely. After a couple of minutes (knowing my colleague is swamped AND trying to go do his own job) I speak up.)

Me: “Is that the one, then?”

Researcher: “I think so…” *continues to study it*

Me: “I really need to get up to the desk again; you said you would know it when you saw it… That IS a standard VGA cable…”

Researcher: “Yes… Yes, I think this is it.” *remains seated*

Me: “So we should—”

Researcher: “I also need a power cable.”

Me: *knowing there is NO hope of NOT settling that right now* “Okay, what kind?”

Researcher: “I don’t know.”

Me: “THIS kind?”

(He examines it closely. After around almost a minute:)

Me: “So, is that the right one?”

Researcher: “I don’t know… This one is… I don’t know… Maybe. Probably. Okay. I think so.”

Me: “Or is it perhaps THIS one?”

Researcher: *instantly* “Oh, YES, that’s it. Thanks!”

(He leaps up, smashing the telephone off wall and dislodging network cables. As I try to put them back in he keeps looming over me and reaching in and grabbing whichever one I am not holding and trying to stick in just anywhere.)

Me: “Please, I have this…”

Researcher: “I broke it; I should fix it!” *continues to grab and stab*

Me: “PLEASE! I know where these need to go in! Just let me take care of it, please!”

Researcher: “Wow, you’re in a bad mood! Here, let’s calm down… Breathe iiiiin… Now breathe oooouuut…. Now iiiin…”

(This makes him start doing some hand gestures, which allows me to finally plug the network cables back in.)

Researcher: “There, see?” *walks off* “I helped put it back together because I broke it and now you’re all calmed down, too! Remember those exercises next time you get excited.” *walks out into hallway* “Aren’t you coming?”

Me: “Yep, just as soon as I put all these cables back in their respective bins and lock the server room!”

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