hen I was 17 years old I was working at a local internet service provider as a perl programmer. The pay was $8.00 an hour, which wasn't bad for a small town. Minimum wage in my town was on par with wages paid for rowing a viking slave ship, and I was grateful to have a job that didn't involve hamburgers or livestock. I was in high school, however, so I had to work nights. Working nights meant a lot of alone time with my boss. If my boss had been a beautiful female secretary with a penchant for geeky coders, this would have been ideal. Unfortunately he was not anything of the sort, my boss was a man in his late forties who hated his wife so he'd often work long hours to avoid her. He wore tinted, prescription hunting glasses and had a mustache which sat atop his upper lip like a greasy falcon awaiting the commands of its master.
My boss shared the same name as a celebrity. Anytime someone would meet him there'd be the inevitable "Wait, your name is [...] - just like the celebrity?!" conversation, whereby he would have to begrudgingly admit that yes, he had the same name as this other famous person. Because I'm afraid that someday he'll read this (or his wife will), I'm not going to call him by his real name. To protect his identity, I'll instead refer to him as Rod Stewart.
So late one night I'm working and Rod Stewart is sitting behind me, typing away. The office was situated so that I faced a wall, and Rod Stewart sat against the opposing wall but facing me (so his back was to it). We worked in a windowless basement with all the servers, switches, and other networking equipment. He'd surrounded him with 8 computer monitors which formed a semicircle around his desk. I always figured he wore those tinted hunting glasses to shield the blinding light coming from those monitors. Normally Rod just did his thing and I did mine; we would talk every now and then, but there was very little overlap in our work. On this particular evening, however, Rod was unusually talkative. He walked over to my desk carrying the motherboard of a computer and asked me to read the small numbers printed on the side of the microprocessor, claiming that his far-sighted vision made it tough for him to read the tiny print. I read them and he went back to his desk. Soon after he fired off a question about programming, and when I turned around I noticed he had an old computer case sitting in his lap, which he appeared to be tinkering with. I answered his question and then resumed working. A few minutes later he asked another question, which I answered. These questions kept coming, always with a few minutes in between. It seemed that he was trying to make it obvious to me that he was working, because when you work you naturally always have a computer case in your lap and you ask your coworkers lots of questions. I didn't really figure out what was going on until I heard the sound of pennies.
Imagine the sound of a sack of pennies being shaken up and down, sort of like a "shick shick shick." Internet culture has declared the correct onomatopoeia I was hearing to be "fap fap fap," but I still think it sounds more like a shick than a fap. Soon after Rod Stewart asked me to list all the data types in the perl programming language, I began to take note of this penny-shick sound. It was fairly regular, but occasionally the rhythm would bump up a notch and the shicking would get pretty intense. It didn't take long for me to figure out that the wife-hating Rod Stewart was whacking off at work - his 8 monitors no doubt flooded with depraved pornography from the darkest corners of the internet. Over the years I've forced myself to believe that he was definitely looking at porn, because the thought of him looking at ME while masturbating would be enough nightmare material to span several lifetimes. So why the computer in his lap? This was all part of his brilliant plan to make it appear as if he was very busy.
I tried "accidentally" dropping one of my large perl books onto the floor, hoping that the loud slap of the cover on linoleum would shock Rod Stewart into ceasing, but unfortunately it only momentarily deterred the pennies from shaking.
At this point, I had a choice: I could turn around in a flash, point my finger and taunt the man whose lustful gaze was fixated on 800x600 pixels of god-knows-what, or I could keep working and pretending that life was a beautiful journey and there was no such thing as greasy mustached men who jerk off at work. If I turned around and called him on it, I might lose my job. If I sat there and kept working, I'd have to hear those pennies shake until Rod Stewart shot millions of sticky little Rod-Stewartlets into an empty computer case. Was that worth $8.00 an hour?
Apparently it was, because I took the sissy route and got the fuck out of there. Making sure every movement was slow and obvious, I grabbed my backpack and made my way to the exit, maintaining constant eye contact with the floor. I mumbled something to Rod Stewart about having to leave early that night, to which he over-enthusiastically replied "Great Matt! Thanks for all the hard work today!"
Rod may have won this time around, but I keep telling myself that one day he'll try that again and something will go horribly wrong. He'll be forced to go home and explain to his miserable wife how he got his penis caught in a CD-ROM drive. Who'll have the last laugh then, Mr. Stewart?
I will, you son of a bitch. I will.