Some people just can't function without their coffee. Jane had the rare distinction, in JD's opinion, of being a person who functioned pretty poorly even with her coffee—and she always seemed to have a mug in hand. Today was no different: she had her signature travel mug halfway to her mouth when she caught sight of JD approaching her cube with a replacement keyboard. Her eyes narrowed when she caught site of the cord wrapped haphazardly around the big black rectangle.
"I am not using a wired keyboard!"
JD closed his eyes and sighed. This had seemed like such a nice little database-analyst position when he'd landed it in his third year. An eternal optimist, JD wasn't concerned about whether he could handle the workload in addition to his schoolwork. And he even managed to stay bright-eyed when he learned that, with only four IT staff for a regional office managing several states, he would be doing as much reformatting of hard drives as rebuilding of indexes. But the sound of Jane slurping her java as he attempting to troubleshoot her never-ending string of helpdesk tickets regarding her wireless keyboard was starting to wear a small, steady crack in his foundation.
Back when "wireless" was nowhere near as ubiquitous a descriptor as it is today, keyboards without cords were an expensive novelty. As a top sales representative and careful observer of desktop feng shui, Jane managed to finagle one from some obscure overseas supplier, becoming the small office's number-one creator of helpdesk tickets within days of the purchase. If JD could have replicated her constant dropped-key issues even once, he could have made the argument that they couldn't afford to support her specialized hardware. But since the problem had always evaporated by the time he arrived at Jane's cubicle, JD would just close the ticket and try to focus on database analysis. All would be well for one to three days, when a new ticket would appear in the queue with a subject like My keybord stops typin somtimes and JD would trudge across the office to let his fingers dance a futile dance.
"I thought if I took your keyboard back to my desk for a while, I could finally get to the bottom of this," JD said, offering the replacement with trembling hands. He'd brought fresh pairs of batteries for both the keyboard and its receiver as a backup, but they never made the "issues" go away. This was, JD reckoned, his last hope. If he couldn't figure out what was wrong with Jane's keyboard, maybe he could just let her get used to the wired one. Maybe, in time, she would forget about her inexplicably unreliable toy, and JD could finally finish the schema redesign he'd been working on since he'd started the job.
Jane slammed her mug on the desk, its contents sloshing over the rim, and whirled on JD. "I can't use a wired keyboard! I won't!"
That settled that, then. Jane continued to rant, and JD was wondering if he could hit himself with the rejected replacement hard enough to earn a reprieve when his eyes lit on the mug. The big metal mug, sitting on the desk directly between the keyboard and, shoved as far off to the side as it could possibly be while still in range, its boxy receiver. The flaky, short-range radio receiver... The big metal cylinder... Jane always seemed to be drinking coffee...
The wired keyboard dropped from JD's fingers, forgotten, as he stepped towards the desk. Jane paused in her rant, unsure of his intentions. He gestured to her beloved keyboard, exhorting her to type. Sure enough, the cursor left a senseless trail of missed letters in its wake. He plucked the mug off the desk and Jane flinched, but he begged her to continue typing. The next few sentences were flawless. He placed the mug back on the desk, and, behold, keypresses began disappearing once more. A smile grew on JD's face. After simply moving the keyboard receiver next to Jane's monitor, he returned to his desk, optimistic that he had solved her issues once and for all. She hadn't even thanked him, but he didn't care.
The next morning, JD was refactoring the database schema for what he hoped would be the last time when his phone rang. It was Jane. "I thought you said you fixed it!"
"I... I thought I did."
"Well, it's messin' up again!"
JD couldn't help noting she was even dropping letters from her speech now. He didn't bother to bring the keyboard this time. Jane was at her desk, sipping from The Great Attenuator, her keyboard receiver returned to its inauspicious corner.
"Jane," JD asked, trying to keep the exasperation out of his voice, "may I ask why you moved your receiver?"
She dropped the mug into its hallowed place with a thump. "It's too ugly to be next to the monitor! I want it over there, where I don't have to see it."
"But the reception's a lot better if—"
"I won't look at the damn thing all day! I can't!"
"Okay. Then I don't suppose you'd consider keeping your coffee mug on the other side of your desk?"
"THIS IS WHERE IT GOES! Why can't you fix my keyboard?!"
JD smiled, and said he'd have to get back to her. On the walk back to his desk he felt optimism returning. He was sure that, after he resigned from this job, he could find a new major that didn't involve keyboards.