By Chris Oldwood

Overload, 24(136):30, December 2016

One JavaScript module was removed and every Node.js build was knocked for six. Chris Oldwood fictionalises the tale.

The alarm punctuated the morning silence and brought Norman to an abrupt state of consciousness. After the disturbing buzzer was itself silenced the room was then gently brought to life with the sound of gurgling as the teasmade continued the morning ritual by making a fresh cuppa. Norman always liked to start the day with a fresh brew.

The rest of the day began much like any other with the usual bowl of high-fibre cereal, an invigorating shower and the precision buttering of bread for his home-made packed lunch. As he cycled to work he thought about the impending cricket match at the weekend. The team had played well all season and only lost a single game so far and Norman, as team manager, felt he had been instrumental in their success by giving the players plenty of freedom.

As Norman approached the office his thoughts began to switch from the cricket pitch to the day ahead. He made a mental note to check the cricket kitbag during lunchtime and then his personal life faded-out and his working life came into focus as the bicycle shed came closer into view. He reached into his rucksack and pulled out a couple of different locks, both fairly chunky, and with a padlock that Fort Knox would be proud of. With the bike firmly restrained he reached into his pocket to find a security pass which he proudly presented to the guard.

Norman took security very seriously. Prior to taking his current position at SeaPan Ltd he had himself worked as a security guard at a museum in the city. Initially he’d only been entrusted with the less valuable works of art such as the Roman pottery and textiles, but his exemplary work ethic and timekeeping had quickly earned him promotion. Within only a few months he found himself responsible for the safe-keeping of the museum’s prized collection of precious stones. Whilst he could appreciate the workmanship of the ceramics there was always something a little more special about the way the light would sparkle from the gems.

Alas the hours were unsociable and this interfered with his desire to play in, and eventually manage, the local cricket team. While recounting his tale of woe to another member of the team it transpired there was an opening at SeaPan Ltd which might be of interest. Norman quickly impressed in the interview and by the evening the job was already his.

The route to the department took in various twists and turns and like many postal rooms the décor was drab and functional. It was a far cry from the beautiful galleries of the museum but the job had its benefits and best of all he had his own office. He paused for a moment to admire his name on the door, ‘Normal P. Marshall, Package Manager’, then gave a wry smile and stepped inside prepared for the challenges of another day.

The morning largely passed by without undue concern. There was the usual assortment of queries from various members of staff complaining about the intolerable lack of service despite the fact that the problem was one of their own making. One rather irate salesman called Conan was becoming increasingly agitated over the delay of his parcel. He descended all five floors to the postal room demanding to know what imbecile was in charge, and what they were going to do about finding his missing packet. Norman nonchalantly stepped over to the large basket in the corner and pulled out a parcel they received a few days earlier which had been badly addressed. He asked Conan whether it was the one he had been expecting and, after grudgingly receiving a confirmation, took a moment to calmly re-educate his colleague on the most effective technique for ensuring packages are correctly identified.

Lunchtime finally arrived and Norman took his rucksack down from the top of the filing cabinet. He pulled out the make-shift lunchbox recycled from an old margarine tub and started to munch away whilst flicking through the discarded newspaper Conan had brought along in a rather pathetic attempt to look a little more menacing.

One further benefit of his new role was that the office was only a few minutes away from the cricket pavilion where the team played. This made popping over there to check the kit was in order for the weekend match easy to squeeze within his lunch break; after all he wasn’t expecting any surprises, just check the items off his mentally stored list and get back to the office for the afternoon shift.

He opened the pavilion door, rested his cycle up against the bar and headed into the home team dressing room. The long leather bag was already open and there had definitely been signs of some rummaging around. Norman knelt down and began to sift through the bag checking off the balls, gloves, bails, etc. Reaching the bottom his face slowly turned pale as he realised he was an item short – one of the left pads was missing!

Norman quickly rationalised that this wasn’t an opportunistic thief at work, but probably just one of the other players taking a few liberties. He quickly searched the pavilion to be sure it hadn’t been haphazardly returned, but found no trace. With his lunch hour about to expire he locked the pavilion back up and headed over to the office.

He knew he didn’t have time to personally ring everyone until the following evening so decided to broadcast his plight via social media in the hope that someone would own up, or at least take up the mantle on his behalf. Various replies came in during the afternoon with a few offering support, but the majority were just sarcastic comments. Norman had pretty thick skin but when people who didn’t even play in the team began trolling it started to grate on him.

Fortunately the mystery was soon resolved. The team captain had decided to get some extra batting practice in and, finding the groundsman had temporarily unlocked the pavilion, had helped himself to the pad. (It takes ages to put them on so decided just to protect his leading leg.) Having donated them to the club in the first place he felt he was probably within his right to borrow them whenever he pleased. The groundsman unexpectedly locked up soon after and so he couldn’t return it to the kitbag later.

Norman swung by the captain’s house on the way home to give him a piece of his mind. He didn’t want to have to store the cricket kit under lock-and-key, but he felt if some members couldn’t be trusted to look after what belonged to the entire team, then that’s what he’d have to resort to.

Another win for the team at the weekend tempered Norman’s animosity towards the captain and his knee jerk reaction to regulate access quickly began to fade. Instead he crafted a polite notice for the wall in the home team dressing room which reminded the players to consider the needs of the club before their own. The incident had clearly struck a chord as some of them pooled together and bought spares to ensure they would never again be short on match day.

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