#409: Shard

[F.U.C.K. is an e-zine that I started on January 24, 1993 and ended on January 24, 2000. One concept is that articles should be timeless if possible, so they were not released with dates. As such, the date on this blog is not exact but I will try to use a date as close as possible.]

Contentness. Satisfaction. With a sly smile, the young man dug in his pockets for his keys. The keyring held various keys for different aspects of his life. A four meg SIMM dangled from it, a sign of his profession. A super mini-maglite next to the RAM. He sorted out the right key and popped the trunk of his ’92 Honda Civic. The trunk lifted up revealing the normal contents he had seen every time before.

A black milk crate filled with car components helped him dozens of times before. Snake light, mini-mag lite, two cans of fix-a-flats, paperwork from his last two car repairs, and other assorted items. Next to that was an old military bag filled with common tools; screw drivers, hammer, wrench, and more. Toward the back of the trunk was a metal pole in case he ran into unfriendly types. He glanced both ways to make sure no one was paying any special attention to him, not that they would have a reason, but he always liked to make sure.

It was a beautiful day out, more so because he rarely left his apartment during the day. He set the red plastic cup on the back bumper and put on a set of cheap gloves. After he emptied the trunk of the normal contents, he set to task. Throughout the trunk were small shards of glass, littering the carpet like stars on night. Starting in the upper right corner, he moved clockwise through the trunk removing the glass. Each piece rolled off his gloves into the cup.

It was only five hours before, his friend had thrown a twenty pound rock through the window of a computer repair shop. He had followed the rock through seconds after and began to gather up items in the store. By the count of ten both men were in the store, thieves of the night. Twenty, and his friend’s bag had several hard drives in it. Thirty and he had removed all cable connections from their primary server, his friend with a full bag already. Forty seconds and his friend was heading out with bag in one hand, a stack of routers balanced on his other. Fifty seconds and he was running out the window he had entered, a full tower server under each arm. Both weighed quite a bit, but felt like empty pizza boxes because of the adrenaline.

Three minutes after the rock sailed through, they were turning onto the frontage road, entering the freeway. No sign of police, nothing else out of the ordinary. It was only fifteen more seconds before they were free to relax. Once on the highway, they were just two guys going home late at night. He remembers pulling into the apartment complex a big smile on both of their faces, content with their new found possessions. Neither could afford it on their individual incomes, but none of the equipment they had liberated were required by any means. Just an easy way to get new toys to play with, to learn about. It was a great way to enhance their skillset in order to progress in the computer industry.

Twenty minutes had passed and half the glass shards were out of the trunk and into the cup. No matter what they did, glass always ended up in the car or their clothes. It would be weeks later and one of them would find a piece of glass in a shirt pocket or cuff of a sleeve. This had almost become a ritual after a night of energy. More minutes and a few neighbors passed as he continued cleaning. It was rare that he gave thought about the right or wrong of what he did. He had no problems doing that kind of thing at night, no moral barriers. The more he thought about it, the more satisfied he was.

People didn’t look at the entire picture most of the time. They saw the short term view, and made a judgement based off that shallow view. The following day someone had to replace the broken window. That provided more work for the glass companies, helped pay the salary of the installation guy, produced more orders for replacement glass. The police would surely be called in to take reports, providing them with their somewhat daily routine. The insurance company of the computer store would receive a call, one or two of their agents would spend part of their day filling out paperwork in order to replace the stolen equipment. The computer store was not full of morons, so because of clever paperwork, the store actually made a few dollars profit on the missing equipment. The companies that made the hardware will receive purchase orders to replace the originals.

Add it all up, and not much was truly lost. More good came out of the ‘crime’ than bad, yet no one saw it that way. Or maybe they did. Maybe that explains why police are so casual about crimes of that nature, and never seem really interested in catching the bad guys unless the criminals happen to fall in their lap. Who knows. The last piece of glass fell into the cup, the trunk closed. He headed across the parking lot toward his front door, and without a second thought tossed the plastic cup into the dumpster. One cup of broken glass is all there was to represent hours and hours of work and legitimate business for all those other people.

Not like it mattered that his actions went unappreciated. He ended up with new equipment to play with. Half a dozen other people ended up with more work in order to pay their bills and move on in their life. If they stopped to think about it, they should probably thank him. But he knew it wouldn’t come to that. He had plenty of thanks already, in the form of a weak security system, poor response time, and bad placement of equipment. He laughed as he thought about sending them a thank you card. As quick as the notion had occurred, it passed on, leaving him with a slight smile. And a small cut on his thumb. Oh the price that is paid.

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