Preface 764
on Sunday, March 10 '13

In a certain district in San Francisco which I do not wish to name, there lived a gentleman. His household consisted of himself and his possessions, and sometimes a tabby cat — of the ugliest, large eyed variety — that he did not own but would find trapped in his apartment due to the negligence of his neighbors.

Our gentleman was verging on twenty five, of pleasant face, naturally vigorous constitution, a frightfully early riser. It was necessary to shift his circadian rhythms. They say his name was Oldot, though we are skeptical.

The reader must know that this gentleman strove wholeheartedly, put perhaps unconciously, to be the most rational of men. He gave himself up to the honorable profession of engineering software in the most straightforward way. Oldot, we must admit, was not a very clever man; not once was he known to have tried a solution that was uncharted. But this did not matter much, and in fact was to his credit, because novelty took time and failure a mop and broom. So it was satifactory to all that Oldot never compromised his efficiency if he could help it.

This attitude filtered into almost everything Oldot did: He was continuously avoiding his neighbors, who he found to be too old or too young, or too unlike him to interact with in a satisfactory way.

Only with his landlady, who lived at arms reach from his mailbox, was he the least bit talkative; but only because it was in his interest to be.

Oldot had few friends in this world. Anderson, another engineer, would enter his household regularly on the pretence of discussing the very best spandex running shorts. These discussions would go on for countless minutes, eventually always turning into heated rebukes in which personal experience was thrown around willy-nilly, and after a time they would see the damage they had done, would embrace with meaning and find softer topics like the proper use of plantains. Occassionally one would bring up an amusing new software library. But for the most part this talk of work was not enjoyable unless there was a serious problem at hand. And this was simply impossible when Anderson was welcome, on weekends, because the highest priority was vigorous exercise and rest.

One fine San Francisco morning — it was one of those bright Tuesdays — Oldot found himself wiping the steam valve of his espresso machine with usual care, wondering in an uncharacteristic fashion what his life might have been if he had taken up a profession as fruitless as that of a writer. Or journalist, he cringed. Apart from the useful 4 paragraphers like “How to Book a Cheap Cruise” and “Braces, Mending Plates, & Shelf Brackets”, he felt very strongly that the rightful place for serious writers was minimum wage coffee shops. So it is even more shocking that he thought of himself, even for a moment so brief, in a position of one of these irrational — might we be so bold as to say downright unintelligent — individuals, who expended so much engergy for so little return.

He was very pleased with where modern writing was going, towards more facts and less nonsense. And that was that.

That morning Oldot’s office was as excellent to him as it always was, for there were highly straightforward people who were quite willing to talk of memory leaks and encryption proxies. And when most appropriate, there was not one but three dessert restaurants within walking distance (he had recently been convinced that one was not enough). In its most unexcellent aspects — those few strange individuals who were long winded, confusing folk — Oldot responsded handsomely by nodding his blank face and then by complimenting their very small European cars.

No one bothered him today, not even to ask how he was “doing” — which he found to be a downright annoying question. So he settled into his customized ergnomic seat thinking how on all accounts this morning would turn out to be execellently ordinary.

One might notice that there would be no point in telling the reader of this morning if it turned out to be so ordinary. No, this morning was definitely not an ordinary one, and finally at half past eleven, just as the company-wide email had been sent out with a lunch announcement of low carb squirrel food, did the event of our interest take place.