Photo Credit: .mushi_king @ flickr Rob's employer didn't need a summer intern, let alone a paid intern. This absence of need conflicted directly with the Director of Engineering's need to find his son a summer job while he was home from college. In the battle between Frugality and Nepotism, there could be only one victor, and plenty of collateral damage.

On his first day, Chris arrived wearing jean-shorts and a stained Boba Fett t-shirt that wasn't quite long enough to reach his waistband, which itself wasn't quite broad enough to completely contain his waist. He exuded the faint aroma of Cheetos and basement, and had the dazed look of someone unused to full sunlight.

Rob decided the first order of business was to get a feel for Chris's technical background. The Director of Engineering assured him that Chris was a computer whiz, but he didn't intend to throw Chris at their servers without a little vetting. "So, have you ever run a web-server?"

"Oh, yeah, all the time."

"Apache? IIS?"

"No. I use Internet Explorer. People say you can get viruses from it, but that's only if you're a porno-browsing moron. I had a guy try to hack me once. Once. He won't be trying that again."

"Well, great," Rob said. "Building management needs to do some renovations upstairs, so we're going to need to move a few workstations to another office. Let me get you a hand-cart and show you where things are."

Rob handed Chris a cart, showed him where the "to" and "from" locations were, and went to go do some real work. Fifteen minutes later, the hallway reverberated with an expensive series of crashes, punctuated with a whimper. Rob found Chris leaning over a thoroughly destroyed tower. "I… I tripped," Chris said. His lame story was corroborated by the Chris-shaped dent in the side of the case, and an honestly pained grimace.

"Why didn't you use the hand-cart?" Rob asked.

"I wanted to get some exercise. I need to be in good shape for my Jeet-Kun-Do classes. I'm totally going to rock my brown-belt test next week."

After explaining that the office wasn't a gymnasium, Rob learned his lesson and supervised Chris a bit more closely. The morning passed without Rob retiring any more asset tags. He left for lunch and spent a portion of it brainstorming a set of scut-work that needed done and would keep Chris out of trouble. When he pulled his car back into the lot, what he saw caused him to narrow down the list of acceptable tasks even further.

Someplace among the construction equipment, Chris had scavenged a five-foot long metal bar. He spent his lunch break doing his best impression of the "Star Wars Kid". His skill with his improvised staff was on par with his skill at moving towers. He showed the grace and elegance of the Incredible Hulk at a tea-party. Rob parked far away from Chris's practice area, and spent a few minutes waiting to see if the bar went through someone's windshield.

Nothing dramatic happened. Rob shook his head and went back to work. Over the next week, Chris's floor show became a gag around the office. Anytime he didn't have an assigned task, Chris darted out to the parking lot or an empty room and pretended to be the Baton Twirler of the Apocalypse. The staff dubbed the bar his "companion cube", since it was nearly always at hand.

One day, Rob allowed Chris into the server closet; he needed a gopher. He didn't pay too much attention when Chris excused himself, but he did look up when Chris waddled back in with a pair of steaming coffee mugs. Beside Chris's head was a sign that read, "ABSOLUTELY NO FOOD OR DRINK IN THIS ROOM."

"Hey, I brought you some coffee," Chris said.

"Don't bring that in here," Rob warned.

The warning went unheeded. Chris's foot found a delicate barometric imbalance around floor level; he tripped, the coffee went flying. The company's internal webserver was destroyed, and Rob dealt with the after effects of a scalded groin.

By the end of the summer, Chris's clumsiness, lack of caution, and general incompetence caused no less than five major outages and destroyed a few thousand dollars worth of equipment. Chris said he was sad to go back to school, but everyone else patted him on the back and hoped they would get to see the door strike his ass on the way out. After his last day, things returned to normal, and he was quickly forgotten. The only trace of his passage was a clumsily photoshopped picture of Chris battling an oversize server with his metal rod.

And then, sometime near Christmas, the network went down. Rob scrambled to the server room, analyzed the situation, and quickly identified the problem. Fixing the problem was as simple as reconnecting a few network cables. And the root cause? Chris's metal bar. It had been propped in a corner behind some equipment. The combination of trucks driving by, the tides, and perhaps Santa's sleigh cruising overhead had jostled it loose. Gravity did the rest.

It was one last gift from Chris to ensure he would never be forgotten.

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