Terry Doolittle sometimes wondered if she were cursed. Cursed to work at a mind-numbing job day after day when what she really wanted was adventure out beyond the far horizons, but what she could get was data-entry doing money transfers at a bank, day after endless day. Cursed with a vivid imagination, that showed her exactly what she was missing, as she watched her films at night as she ate her dinner for one, and played with her little animals in her cubicle when she couldn't take the numbers any more and none of her online friends were available at work. Cursed with a spirit that loved celebrating and life far more than the joy+satisfaction that came from getting to work on time.
Cursed... by that oversized Russian ox.
She of the gigantic and completely unfeminine body, in Terry's opinion, who managed to make Terry feel even more useless than she already did by her sheer presence. She showed up every day, like clockwork, to taunt her with her oversized muscles and effortless strength, clogging her terminal on company time with her un-bank-related self.
Why her? Why her station, of all the terminals in this dump? Why was it her terminal that inevitably managed to tune into that particular Russian station every day without her knowledge or consent?
She'd asked tech support for help. Repeatedly. And every time they'd come up to the floor and peer at it with the appropriate air of concern and techly know-how, and every time, they'd put the machine back together and say they didn't know.
So, the next day would find her waiting for this Russian bitch to get off her screen again, driving her numbers down and earning her looks and lectures from Mr Page, him of the polyester suits and the bad toupee and the voice that managed to grate on her nerves even more than she did on his, which, judging from the pained looks on his face every time he had to talk to her, was considerable.
She wondered, sometimes, if it was one of her friends playing a joke on her. But if so, why every day like this? It was a joke that grew old the first time it happened, never mind the seventy-fifth.
Day after day. At about the same time, always the same program. She grew to hate that woman - for her muscles and her ease and for the fact that she was so clearly doing what she loved when Terry so clearly was not.
She was so tired of the ineffectual repairmen. They were always men, and always so condescending in their attitudes, their words, sure that she was doing something to cause it, as if the sheer fact that she was a woman made her unable to operate a computer effectively. She didn't deign to tell them that she probably knew more than they did, tho' she thought it, a lot. Especially as they came and went in their turns, never giving her a clear answer to the question of why her, why this woman, why Russian exercise television, when they were all in a bank, for God's sake.
She started thinking about it existentially. Was she being punished for something she'd done in a past life? In this life? She quickly ran through the list of her sins. No, nothing so heinous as to deserve this woman on her screen every day, savaging her both her self-esteem and her scores/success.
So, what was it? She eventually decided that it wasn't hers to know. Just hers to put up with.
Bullshit. She wasn't going to believe that. Not for a minute.
So she stared and waited and finally, one day she couldn't take it any more.
She gave the terminal a huge thwack on the side.
And lo' and behold, if the screen didn't clear and give her her data-entry screen back.
Well, look at that. she thought. Sometimes it really does pay to just hit the fucking thing.
She remembered that the next day and the next. Privately, she supposed it had as much to do with the fact that it took her approximately the same amount of time to get fed up with waiting for it every day as it did the actual usefulness of the hitting itself, but she usually chose to ignore that fact in favor of the sheer satisfaction she got from hitting it.
And it beat hitting Mr Page, which would do no good and get her arrested, besides. She might not like her job, but she liked having one, and certainly wasn't going to jail for someone like Mr Page, whom she didn't like at all.
So, even tho' she knew very well that it probably wasn't her causing the solution, any more than she was the cause of the problem, in the end, she was simply pleased that it obeyed. She wasn't getting paid to watch television, after all, and certainly wouldn't have picked that program even if she were.
Giving it a good *thwack^^ and watching it return to her input screen was good for her soul - and her bottom line. Mr Page was happy, or at least as happy as he ever got, she was as happy as she could be at a job that satisfied only a tiny part of her soul, and the Russians, well, the Russians went on their own way, living their own lives. Nobody knew how the Russians felt about it, but presumably they were as happy as anyone else.
Everybody was satisfied. And if the reality was more that she ended up waiting the same amount of time every day before thwackking her monitor, than the actual *thwack^^ proving beneficial, well, she didn't really care, as long as it worked.
Besides, it gave her an outlet for her frustration, which was a good thing, considering how much she kept hearing on the news about workplace violence.
Dealing with Mr Page, she could understand why that statistic was on the rise. That didn't mean she had any desire to end up in jail for hitting him, as much as she might like to some days.
Hitting her monitor seemed like a much better idea all 'round.
So she thwacked and it cleared and her days went on, and if she still longed for a life of adventure, it was enough to live vicariously through her movies while she was waiting for a new and brighter day to come.
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