Kevin’s was nowhere to be found all day. His office door was unlocked, giving the department staff good reason to believe he was still on the premises, only who knows where. This was of great annoyance to the staff as they needed his guidance to resolve the ongoing problems with the network.
That evening, everyone went home except for Robert, who stayed to continue troubleshooting the sluggish network. He sat at his desk, convinced he was all alone working when suddenly the door to the computer room opened. Out came Kevin, his face lit with excitement. As he was about to return to his office, he saw Robert working.
“Robert,” Kevin said, scaring Robert out of his wits.
“Kevin, where have you been?” Robert yelled. “You’ve been missing all day and we’ve spent just as long looking for you! You mean to say you’ve been in the computer room all this time?”
“I think you should see this,” Kevin replied.
“What’s to see? Kevin, the network’s been running slow all day and I really can’t stop working now.”
“Take a break,” Kevin smiled. “Follow me.”
Robert groaned as he rose from his seat to follow Kevin into the computer room. They both walked up to a small closet on the back wall next to the mainframe. Kevin opened the doors to reveal a mess of data cables plugged into network outlets on the wall.
“What do you see?” Kevin asked.
“Kevin,” Robert sighed. “you know what I see. Those are cables that go to the mainframe terminals all over the hospital.”
“No, I don’t see anything else. Why, what else is there?”
“How about a ladder?”
“See?” Kevin moved the cables out of the way to expose a flat piece of wood that was nailed across the width of the small closet. Above it was another similarly nailed piece of wood followed by several more that continued up to the ceiling.
“Kevin, just because it looks like a ladder doesn’t mean it’s a ladder.”
“After you,” Kevin smiled, motioning towards the ladder.
“Oh no,” Robert protested. “I’m not going up there.”
“Then I’ll go.”
“Kevin!” Robert protested, but to no avail. Kevin had moved the cables off to the side so he could climb the ladder and sure enough, up he went, rung by rung and closer to the ceiling. Then he pushed a ceiling tile out of the way and disappeared into a small, dimly lit space above.
“Are you coming, Robert?” Kevin’s voice called out. “You need to see this.”
Robert too began climbing the ladder and when he reached the space above the ceiling, he gasped. There was Kevin, standing in what appeared to be a small, dimly lit office, complete with a desk, a phone and a mainframe terminal that graced its windowless interior.
“Unbelievable,” Robert muttered. “What is this place?”
“I have no idea,” Kevin replied.
“How’d you know about this?”
“I’ve been wondering about the ladder. I thought it was a rack of some sort but when I saw more than one rack, that had me thinking it could be a ladder, and where there’s a ladder, there’s bound to be something hidden above the ceiling. And here we are.”
“Amazing,” Robert said as he looked around the mysterious office. Then his eyes moved to the desk, where he spotted a small beige box with a blinking orange light on the front side. He examined the back of the box and saw a power cable along with a network cable both plugged into their respective outlets on the wall.
“What’s that?” Kevin asked.
“I have no idea,” Robert replied as he unplugged the box’s cables from the wall. “But we certainly don’t need it. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back to work and figure out what’s slowing this network down.”
“Of course,” Kevin smiled. “I’ll be down in a bit.”
Robert climbed down the ladder and returned to the office below. Kevin took one last look around the mysterious office before he too made his descent that took him back to the computer room that led to the office where the staff worked.
“How’s it going?” Kevin asked as he stopped by Robert’s desk.
“I don’t believe it,” Robert replied. “The network’s running much faster now. That small box I unplugged in that weird office was what was slowing everything down. Only I still don’t know what that box does.”
“We’ll figure that out tomorrow. Come, let’s go home. You worked a very long day today.”
“Can’t argue with that,” Robert sighed as he rose from his seat. “At least your time absent was well spent.”
“True,” Kevin smiled as he switched off the lights to the office. Robert joined him as they both made their way to the time clock to punch out for the day.
Meanwhile, in the small office above the ladder, a gray, wrinkled hand plugged in the power and data cables into their respective outlets as the orange light on the beige box began blinking.