Sliced bread bag2

Dateline: Friday, 1:00pm

"Sir? Ah... where are all the helpdesk techs?"

Andrew glanced at the clock before answering Tani the Intern. A year ago, he'd have said they were at lunch, and likely would be until 3:00, but that was before Helga got assigned as the Helpdesk Manager. She ran a tight ship; they'd have to be working an emergency to all be gone at the same time these days.

Andrew pulled up the helpdesk ticket queue, looking for the source of the disturbance. Usually he'd know if there was an outage of some kind, but it was possible it was some esoteric system that had failed. Still, nothing in the queue looked important enough to occupy all four helpdesk operators at once.

What the hell, thought Andrew to himself, as he locked his PC. It's a slow day, let's have an adventure. "I don't know. Let's go find out."

Dateline: Friday, 1:30 pm

"They are definitely not hiding under their desks, sir!" One thing he had to hand to Tani, she was thorough. Not particularly bright, but thorough.

"You tried the lunch room?" Andrew asked.

"Tried there first. And the lounge, and the smoker's deck out back."

"And I tried the restroom," added Andrew, "which means we only have one option left: it's time to head upstairs."

"Upstairs?!" squeaked Tani. "But sir, I've never been up there!"

"The upper floors are just like our basement," he lied, hoping to put her at ease. In truth, they tried to avoid taking the interns upstairs if they could help it; it was best not to show them what they were giving up by choosing a career in IT over something more lucrative in business. Still, with four techs missing at once, there was little recourse but to search the building thoroughly.

Dateline: Friday, 2:00 pm

It was easy to forget how strange and mystical the upper floors felt to those in the IT dungeon. Where in the basement there was the dim light of fluorescent bulbs year-round, upstairs it was high summer, and some strange form of wide-spectrum white lighting was pouring into the room through glass panels flush with the exterior of the building. Where in the basement the interior walls were grey and flimsy, here they were white and sturdier, often decorated with artwork. And, most importantly, while in the basement they had only a small lounge with a brown-down sofa, upstairs they had several cozy meeting spaces with crisp, modern-looking seating.

"Sir... have we died?"

"No, Tani. This is the fabled Upstairs."

"It's so... bright!"

Andrew nodded in agreement, canvassing the space before them. It was so different than their homeland, so strange and unnerving. How would he find clues here? How would—

Just then, one of the missing techs exited a conference room down the hallway from their location. Andrew burst into action, hailing him as he jogged to catch up. "Oi, Steve!"

Steve slowed, turning to wave to Andrew. "Hey! Come to join in the search?"

"The search for the missing techs?" he asked, slowly.

"Nah, the bread!" Seeing Andrew's confused expression, he pulled out a folded printout from his pocket, showing it to Andrew.

It was a helpdesk ticket. Andrew's confusion gave way to shock and disbelief as he read the case description aloud for Tani's benefit:

"'Urgent... high priority... someone has stolen the bread I was planning to eat for lunch. I must have it returned immediately.'" Andrew looked up at Steve, stunned. "First of all, some idiot logged an IT helpdesk ticket for this? Second, Helga has all four of you hunting for a loaf of bread?!"

"Not just any idiot—and not just any loaf of bread," Steve replied. "Richard Milton's loaf of bread."

Andrew's jaw hit the floor. "Steve... Dick Milton's the head of the Canadian operation."

Steve nodded. "So you see why it's super important we get to the bottom of this, pronto."

Andrew cradled his face in his palm. "Steve, he works in Canada! In the Canadian HQ! The missing bread is probably in Canada too!"

"Sure, sure," replied Steve, smiling benignly. "But I'm here. So I figured I'd search where I could."

Dateline: Friday, 2:15 pm

"So what did we learn today?" asked Andrew, flippantly, as he and Tani returned safely to their basement home.

"Steve's an idiot, sir."

Maybe Tani was brighter than she seemed.

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