“Charlie, this is impossible!” Sean nearly shouted. “Last week’s work—all of it—was gone the instant someone hit Save, and I can’t even be mad at them because if I had saved first it would have been the other way around.”

“Yeah, that has got to stop. I figure we need to come up with a new protocol or something—maybe we can check out a project so no one else can work on it. We can get something you can sit on your desk so people can see you have the project open.”

“Like have a physical item you hold to represent a project, and as long as you have that thing no one else can be working on that project?” Sean’s sarcasm was thick. “Like a talking pillow? We’re at talking pillow now?”

“Ok, no. It was just a thought. Jeez.”

“Not to be a jerk, but how’s that any different than putting each project on it’s own external drive so that the person working on it is actually the only person who has access to it. That’s like your version only it’s foolproof and doesn’t involve anyone bringing a stuffed animal from home.”

“Yeah? Well maybe the new plan will be that you have to wear the project hat, and I’lll make sure your hat is something really stupid-looking.” Charlie laughed joylessly and trailed off. “That doesn’t work because if something happens to one physical drive, then the whole project is lost. As soon as we make a second one so that there’s a backup...”

“We’re back where we started with who has the most recent version and we lose more work.”

“Bingo.” Charlie looked at Sean for a full five seconds. “No one loves a drought. We’re making payroll, we have this great workspace, and we have a bunch of projects lined up. We’re gonna be ok but we can’t afford to buy a whole new system right now.”

Sean sagged. “Isn’t there anything we can do? I mean, we’re burning the candle at both ends just to barely scrape at the last minute, all because we’re working with home tech instead of commercial tech.”

“It’s not home tech. You can’t buy this stuff at Best Buy,” Charlie scoffed.

“Ok, fine. But it’s by no means industry-standard. You can’t argue that.”

Charlie nodded. “It’s hard. It would be easier with new equipment. I totally agree with you. And crops in the desert...”

“Crops in the desert need rain, I know.” Sean took a breath. “I don’t know if the crops are the accounts or the individual project files or the developers or what, but the water is definitely money and the desert is obviously the lack of it. I know this—if we don’t water the crops, they’ll die, and no matter what you use to fill that blank, I don’t think you want that.”

The words hung between them for a moment, then Charlie broke the silence. “We’re in the desert. Don’t forget that. But can you get me some numbers?”

Sean was pleasantly surprised. “Absolutely.”

“But budget is the biggest issue. Desert. Remember.”

“Desert. I got it.” Sean answered as he walked back to his workstation.