How hard could it be to track down a simple Thinkpad?

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A VG Serial: Doing Max Vinyl

Chapter 27

“It’s my first day on the job. At the moment it’s a bit chaotic,” Annie Ogden said. Too bad about this dude’s laptop, but she had other things on her mind. For one thing, she hadn’t answered the phone in over an hour. On the other hand, she had something in common with him. She was also here on a recovery mission. But she wasn’t about to tell him that.

“You don’t understand,” Olson said. “My boss is not letting me back in without that Thinkpad. God knows what he’s got on it. He’s the head of an accounting firm, for Pete’s sake! You know, tax records, social security numbers, IRS audits on private individuals, company balance sheets, negotiations with the IRS. I don’t want to even think of what would happen if that PC fell into the wrong hands. You see? You’ve got to help me, Annie.”

“What do you expect me to do?  I can’t even turn on my computer. We’ve been hacked, here. We’ve got a total system crash.”

“Then nobody can work just now, right? So you have the time to help me find my Thinkpad. Tell me where to get started. I’ll do the rest.”

The door to triage opened and Rodriguez walked into reception. The open door offered a glimpse of the assembly line going by with computer gear on it. Olson darted through before it closed. Rodriguez hardly noticed.

“They’re still working on it. What’re people saying on the phones?”

“What do you mean?” She didn’t want to tell him she hadn’t taken a single phone call since the system went down. Although, in a way, no one could fault her for not keeping up in the midst of a crisis during her first day on the job. Rodriguez was way too busy to listen properly, anyway. He didn’t break stride, heading for his office.

“We’ve got to know if the outside world has noticed that the system is down. Let me know, okay?”

“Ah, Mr. Rodriguez, a question.”

“Yeah, who the hell was that guy?”

Annie explained about the Thinkpad mixup. “Chances are he’ll never see it again,” Rodriguez said when she had finished. “Keep him the hell out of there. Call security if he gives you trouble. We don’t let people run around in there like that.” His door closed before he finished speaking.

She rushed back into triage. Callers had been waiting this long, they could wait a little longer. Olson wasn’t there. She found him in inventory, picking through laptops. After parts were tested and tagged for resale, they went on a belt headed for inventory, where, based on their bar code, they were automatically shelved by robots. When an order came in with the bar code information for that piece, the robot found it on the shelf and put it back on the line, this time headed for the packing room.

Olson was standing at one of those shelves, leaning all the way in, looking for Thinkpads. One of the shuttle robots was coming down along a track headed straight for him.

“Hey, look out!” she yelled.

He jumped back just before the robot went by. It continued down the track all the way to the far end of the huge room.

“That was close,” Olson said.

“You’re not allowed here, so get out. Now. For your own safety.”

“That’s nothing compared to what Mr. Sterling is going to do with me if I don’t bring his laptop back. This place is full of laptops. It’s got to be here somewhere.” He turned around to go on with his search.

“I’m serious, you know. What do you think would have happened if that robot had crashed into you?”

She didn’t get an answer. Olson stayed bent over the shelves, moving slowly down to the left, hunting for his boss’s precious computer.

“They’re going to send security if I can’t get you out of this room.”

His back was to her. He didn’t acknowledge her. She was starting to feel provoked. She wondered how Rodriguez would feel about her using karate on this obtuse person. Conflict management, indeed.

“You called?” A thick-necked security guard had appeared out of nowhere.  Looked like Rodriguez left nothing to chance. The security man and his partner went straight up behind Olson. The first one tapped him on the shoulder. Olson turned and, when he saw the uniform, tried to run. He ran straight into the stomach of the second security man, who bear-hugged him, pinning his arms against his sides, and hefted him straight up off the ground. The first security man slipped a thick rubber strap around him and cinched it tight, pinning his arms to his sides. In one movement the second one bent at the knees and balanced Olson over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. They looked like they had done this before.

“Let me go! Let me go!” A pair of sunglasses fell out of one of Olson’s pockets in the struggle. The first security man bent and picked them up. He nodded to his partner, and the two of them headed for a side door without giving her another look. Olson kept yelling about Thinkpads, his boss, something about a lawyer.

The door they went through led to the outside. Something about the careful way the security man had picked up Olson’s sunglasses gave her the feeling that they weren’t going to actually hurt him. They were enforcing company policy. The guy was annoying. She was sorry to have given him the time of day.

As she turned to go back to reception Annie saw Roberto, Murray, and a dozen others walking into the room from a door at the back.

“Battle stations,” Roberto said. “We’re online.”

“It works?”

“Piece of cake,” Murray said.

“You guys’ll never guess who showed up,” Annie said.

“Wait a minute, don’t tell me. Tris came back?” said Roberto. “After that hack, the boss’ll be having her ass for breakfast.”

“In a manner of speaking,” Murray said.

Annie shook her head. “The guy with the missing Thinkpad.”

“He came here?”

“He actually snuck in and was rooting around, looking for it.”

“Ballsy,” Roberto said, looking around.

“Security carried him out kicking and screaming.” Annie pointed at the door. But by the time Roberto opened the door, the grassy area outside the warehouse was deserted.

“I guess they made him leave. His car must be around the front.”

“We can’t have all the townies coming in looking for lost Playstations,” Murray said.

“He’s got a legitimate problem. Isn’t there any way you guys could make a little effort to track down a Thinkpad that came in yesterday? I mean, how hard can it be?” She had a feeling Olson would be right back in her face at the front desk if nobody did anything

Chapters of Doing Max Vinyl will be published on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Please click the book title, Doing Max Vinyl, to read more about author Frederick Lee Brooke’s novels on Amazon.

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