Monica looked at the screen. She watched it for a moment, expecting something to happen, then realized that the screen had seemed unchanged the whole time she had been there. Since the monitor was the only source of light, if something had changed, she probably would have noticed. The longer it went on, the closer she moved to the screen, as though getting a better look would somehow unravel the mystery. She was about six inches from the screen when she found her voice.

“How long has it been like this?”

“This time? About 20 minutes. If the pattern holds, I have about 7 more minutes to wait, and then it will show me the change I just made. Sadly, because preview isn’t working, if I don’t like the way it looks, I have to undo, which will take 10 more minutes. Undo is faster, thankfully.”

Monica turned to stare at him. “Chris this is ridiculous.”

Chris looked at her over his glasses. “Oh, thank you so much for telling me, Monica. I feel so validated.” The sarcasm was back and thick.

“Ok, fair, that was stupid. I’m just now discovering the hell you’ve been in for…”

“Since I started here.”

“What? That’s…why didn’t you quit?”

“So glad you’re happy to have me, coworker. I didn’t quit because I have bills to pay, and because I don’t like walking away from problems, I like solving problems, so I’m competitively staring at the loading screen.”

“You mean to tell me you told them it takes half an hour to make a single change to the file and they did nothing?”

Chris scoffed. “They didn’t do nothing, they reminded me that they hired me because of how fast I said I was and that they better see more output and fewer excuses.”

“You’re serious?”

“I’m pretty sure they thought I was exaggerating the loading time…”

“Ok. I’m your witness. This is broken. No one can work with broken.”

“’Tis a poor craftsman who blames their tools,’ or at least that’s what Greg said.”

“Greg is an idiot.”

“That’s not news. That’s also not changing any time soon, so we have established the givens but not moved closer to a solution.”

Monica shook her head. “Why are you even here? If you stayed all night and clicked as soon as the loading stopped every time you still wouldn’t be able to finish.”

Chris was suddenly very small, even though nothing had really changed. “If I’m here 16 hours a day or more and I can only do half the job, maybe they’ll see it’s not me. If I left at 5:00 every day, they’d just say I wasn’t trying.”

Monica took out her phone, opened the camera, and pointed it at the screen. “This is Monica Lorenzo, it’s 8:32 PM on Wednesday—you can see the time stamp on the monitor. I am with Chris and we have been in this office together for several minutes, during which time this loading screen never changed. Chris says it was like this for several minutes before I walked in, too, and that it freezes like this for 20-30 minutes for each change. What I have witnessed already is unworkable for anyone—there is something wrong with the computer, it’s not Chris, and we have to do something about it or we will not be able to make deadline.” She recorded another few seconds of the screen and then turned off the camera triumphantly.

Chris looked at her, puzzled. “What will that do, exactly?”

Monica smiled. “Really piss off the client who I plan to accidentally CC.”

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