Gregory chewed into the nail of his index finger as he impatiently stared at the phone sitting in his lap. Any second now, an email would be coming in. He needed it five minutes ago. The conference was still continuing in front of him as he sat in the audience. In fifteen minutes, he wasn’t going to be in this chair anymore. He was the next presenter up on stage.
He finished chewing off the bit of nail and swiped down on his phone again. The circle spun a few times as the app refreshed. It disappeared and in it’s place a red “one” stared back at Greg.
With a twitchy finger, Greg tapped the new message. He read the first line and felt the blood drain from his face. His eyes darted around him to make sure that nobody else could see his phone.
“The system is down. It won’t be ready for the presentation” the email informed him.
Greg swiped past the message and clicked the phone number that sat in the auto-generated signature. As he raised the phone to his cheek, he left his seat. The guy next to him was too into the current presentation and Greg fumbled past his legs. Greg could feel the man’s condescending stare seer into the side of his head but chose not to acknowledge it. Instead he was focused on the sweat that was building on his brow. The phone started ringing.
Once outside of the conference hall, he made sure nobody was in his immediate vicinity. The ringing stopped.
“Greg…” The voice on the other end started.
“What the fuck do you mean it’s down?” Greg shouted into his phone. The vein in his temple flared from beneath his skin and throbbed.
“The system is down. We don’t know what happened. But, the system is…”
“You don’t know what happened? How could you not know what happened? You built the damn system. It’s your creation. How could you not know all the ins and outs of the god damn system?!” Greg spat out again. He watched a drop of spit fly across the hall.
“I… I don’t know…” The other side tried responding but his voice kept cracking.
“Then, how the hell are you going to fix this?” Greg said, lowering his voice. The question sounded more like a death threat.
“Well… we… we…we…” The other voice was struggling with his word’s again.
“We… we… we… WHAT?!” Greg screamed into his phone again. He listened to the man on the other side of the phone take a deep breath.
“We already tried rebooting a couple of the secondary systems but none of that is helping.” The man finally came around to saying.
“Then, why did you waste my time rebooting systems that WON’T HELP?” Greg could feel his heart pounding in his chest.
“Well, we were hoping that it would fix the problem” the engineer replied.
Greg pinched the bridge of his nose. He ground his teeth. He felt the knot in his neck get pulled tighter and tighter.
“It was a rhetorical qu… never mind.” Greg spoke through his clenched jaw “What are you doing to fix the problem now?”
“The only option we had left.” The man answered. Greg paused for two heartbeats, waiting for more.
“And, that is…?” Greg pried with a seething tone.
“We rebooted the system.”
“So, why are we having trouble?” Greg asked.
“The system is currently going through it’s self-diagnosis process and it needs another nineteen minutes.” The man answered while audibly cowering away from his phone.
Greg pulled the sleeve back on his dress shirt. His smart watch’s screen woke up. The digital second hand on the clock ticked forward. He only had eleven minutes left till the presentation. Greg let his sleeve back down and walked to the auditorium doors. He pried one open and peeked inside. The presentation before his was wrapping up. It was time to start making his way to the backstage prepping area. He did just that. He also returned to his phone.
“How long have we been working on this project?” Greg asked in a professor-like tone.
“A…about three years…” the other side responded, not quite sure where this was going.
“Three years. You’re right. And, do you know how long three years is in Silicon Valley?” Greg continued his line of questioning.
“It’s a God damn eternity.” Greg paused. “We have been building this app for three years. For three years, we’ve told the world that we were going to revolutionize the way we used computers. Not only did we tell them that we were going to revolutionize the world, we were following through with it. And now, you’re telling me that our system…our great and magnificent system… is down for our first presentation.”
“Yeah. That is what I’m saying.” The other side responded.
“Fix it. Now. I don’t care what the system is doing. When I get on stage, the system needs to be working. And if it isn’t, you can forget the idea of ever working again anywhere. Speed up the reboot process.” Greg ordered, his demeanor now cold and quiet.
“It’s impossible. I can’t do that. I simply can’t.” The engineer stated.
“Find a way.” Greg retorted.
“That…that would take an act of god…” The engineer desperately tried convincing his boss.
“Then, get off the phone with me and get Him on the line. I will not let your incompetence be the end of me. Fix it.” The last two acidic words hung in the air for a moment. Greg pulled the phone away from his face and mashed his thumb into the touchscreen, ending the call.
He made it backstage. A team of assistants charged up to him and began attaching a microphone to his lapel and strapping the transmitter onto his belt. Greg slid his phone into his front jeans pocket. He took a deep breath and walked on stage.