Todd Park was tired. Not from lack of sleep, although he had tossed and turned all night. He was tired of his job. He didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he knew he had to do something else. His real name wasn’t Todd either, it was Myung-Dae, but Todd was much easier, and it kind of meant the same thing, well close enough for him. He had just finished reading a corporate memo outlining new laboratory guidelines, and since he sat in the lab all day, it was all bad news for him. Due to the risk of contamination, drinks were no longer allowed in the lab, even covered drinks. This, added to his lack of sleep and his growing dissatisfaction with work meant that Today was going to be a long day. He looked with mock disgust at his lab-partner Dino, and said “Why don’t you clean off that pig pen you call a bench. It’s disgusting”
Dino, who ignored the jab, had just finished reading the memo as well. “What contamination? Lead? We’ve been lead-free now for 6 months!” he said as he slammed his fist down onto his cluttered bench, sending little wires and a few pointy tools flying though the air. “If anything the lab is safer now than it used to be. They should be allowing us more freedoms, not less! This is making me angry!” Dino enjoyed being angry, though he would never admit it. Anger spurred him into action, and he suddenly began clearing off his bench.
Todd and Dino’s benches were located on the aisle next to the laboratory door. Theirs weren’t the closest benches to the door, but they were in the immediate view of anyone entering the lab. In spite of this, they usually sat at their benches surfing the internet. While Dino busied himself cleaning, RJ, the intern, walked into the lab with a binder and a sheepish look on his face. He had been told to read a 600 page specification while his mentor, Todd, waited for some real work to give him. He stood next to Todd’s bench for a full minute clutching his binder. Todd ignored him and continued surfing. Clearing his throat nervously, RJ said “Hey Todd, I’ve got a question about this spec.”
“You printed that thing?” said Todd accusingly. “Starving children in Cambodia could have eaten those trees, and you, you gluttonous pig, you wasted them on a stupid spec.” He spat the words out with as much vitriol as he could muster under the circumstances.
“And I bet you didn’t print it double sided,” Dino chimed in, not wanting to miss an opportunity to belittle the intern. “Even better, you could have printed multiple pages per sheet, and gotten it down to say 75 sheets.”
RJ shrank under the onslaught, but Todd wasn’t done. “Why would you print a PDF? It’s searchable! Nothing can beat that! And you can highlight and add notes just like a paper copy. There is no point!”
“What a dumb-ass,” agreed Dino.
“I was reading it on the train,” said RJ meekly. “I didn’t think…”
“That’s your problem,” interrupted Dino, “not enough thinking.”
RJ finally asked his question. He was confused about the use of various units in the spec (dBm, dBc, etc.). Todd explained it to him and sent him on his way.
“His problem is he has no confidence,” Todd said matter-of-fact-ly. “He’s never going to get anywhere like that. People are going to walk all over him.”
“Yeah, people like you,” accused Dino, “which is funny, because you don’t really have that much confidence.” Seeking every opportunity to improve his position in the lab hierarchy, Dino played his next card with deadly precision. “You don’t have any confidence because of you’re tiny Asian wang. Your confidence is like this” he said holding up his thumb and forefinger to measure about one centimeter. “My wang is huge.” He continued, rubbing it in as well as he could. “Tiny wang, huge wang! No confidence, huge confidence!” Satisfied that he had made his point, he turned back to his computer to let Todd fester.
A package had arrived a few days earlier, and the contents had been cushioned with bags of air about the size of a sub sandwich. They came in a long perforated ribbon. Tearing off one of the bags, Todd shoved it down the front of his pants, and stood up. He adjusted it to so that it extended down his leg a good eight inches. Then, brandishing his impressive bulge like a weapon, he sauntered up behind Dino’s chair and said “What do you think now? Look, infinite confidence!” The last syllable of “confidence” was punctuated by the click of the lab door lock releasing. A moment later the lab door swung open, and Todd was now facing the VP of Engineering with his stupid grin sliding slowly from his face like pudding. He spun around like a boy caught with his pants down, grabbing at the bag of air in a vain attempt to cover up his indiscretion. The VP’s hand flew up over his eyes to protect himself from the awkward moment, but the damage had been done. “Whoa!” was all he said as he backed out of the lab and let the door close. Todd fumbled to remove the air bag before any further embarrassment. Dino was pounding his bench laughing, sending circuit boards and more pointy tools flying. There would be no more competition for lab pecking order today, or for the rest of the month for that matter.
“That’s not going to look good on your review,” Dino said at last.
“You don’t think they’d fire me for that do you?” Todd wondered aloud. “Because that would be awesome!”