We always need a technician.
Sometimes the technology is force.
Sometimes the technician dies.
In one off-hand comment, one of the men mentions that he's not able to talk to his wife about any of this stuff, and not because of security. That she sometimes shouts at the Fox News when they show The Enemy, and he bites his tongue because she can't understand. He says, the way a body drops, the odd physics of it? He says, gravity suddenly grabs every molecule, it's like watching a balloon go from helium to lead. He says, the colors of the inside of a human body are garish and surprising, especially against the dust and the plants.
I'm just walking through, riveted.
On the screen, there's a map, and a video. The map shows something, and the video shows the result. Mostly I ignore these; the guys providing support to the customer will often, all at once, go "Ooooooh...fuck" and say things like "well, that had to hurt" or "that's a mess." I do my best to walk through just doing my job. They're immersed in it, buried in it, they left the service but didn't leave the life.
Early, very early, we have a crashed system that we rely on and there's two operators there, and I have to go, get into the room, call the security people, get the world turning, and it is 3am in our time zone. The operators are both awake, alert, not happy. The server is dire. They're on phones and chat sessions with annoyed customers on ships and aircraft. I get the system booting, I swap in the kernel that works, I remove the bad kernel mod and replace it with a good one, I reboot, the whole time I hear this idle chatter. Still can't sleep in a bed, he says. Why not? the other op replies. It's too high off the ground, he says. I feel like I need to be on the ground, you know? Yeah, the other op replies. Yeah, I had that. You'll get through it.
I tell them that the server is up, that we've got traffic on it. Their headphones chatter, the screens scroll, their war comes back online. We all ignore what just was said, those words wiped in a shift of focus from broken people to fixed equipment.
Thanks, man. He looks empty eyed, coffee and Copenhagen and adrenal empty. I leave the interior room, stand for a bit in the hissing air handler of the middle chamber, breathing slowly, rejoining the world.
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