Which reminds me of my old friend Mark. I don’t know what Mark is doing for a living right now, but he used to be a building design engineer, a professional driver, a rally judge, and on the executive of the Mini association back before the Mini had a renaissance. He lost his gig as a rally driver when he ruled a team had won because they crossed the finish line first even though they did it on their roof, not on their wheels; the association thought he could use a little “time out.”
Mark is the man Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes grew up to become.
What he really should be is a professional talkshow guest. He has more outrageous stories than your whole bookcase even if it has a complete collection of Baron Munchausen, and as his sister once said to me, the most annoying thing about them is that they’re all true. The one about using a giant pine tree as a slingshot to shoot his friend through a third-story window, nearly causing a fatal cardiac infarction in said friend’s mother, who was in the room, making the bed at the time? True. The one about betting kids a quarter they wouldn’t jump into a hole in the ice he made with an axe in the middle of the Canadian winter? True (best four dollars of entertainment I ever spent, he said). The one about the guy vansurfing and getting slingshotted right off the top of the van by a “welcome rally competitors” banner hung across Main Street? True. The one about the Lambo that’s too long to tell here but awesome? True, and you can ask the police of Washington and Oregon about that, though it’s best to have a lawyer with you when you do.
But the best Mark story dates back to the time nearly 20 years ago, when Macs were new and Nexts were yet to be, and a Maccer had to virtually razorwire his cubicle to protect the Sacred Box. Mark was, you may imagine, something of a prankster, as well as quite possessive; he set up a “fail-proof” defence system. Did it fail? Well, yes and no, depending on whether you think getting woken up at 2 in the morning is a failure or a win.
It is 2am.
The phone rings.
It is a coworker, gibbering desperately, “I’m sorry, I’M SORRY OKAY? HOW DO I TURN IT OFF?”
What had Mark done? Simply set his computer so that, unless while shutting it down you entered a particular key sequence, it would warn you with “Don’t do that, Dave” then go dark for a few seconds, then come back to life and say, “I told you not to do that, Dave.” Over. And Over. And Over.