The programmer begins in gladness…
Well, the day is done. I’ve made my money and eaten my bread dipped in olive oil, so I can begin.
That day, that day in the fall of 1984, in Maastricht, Limburg, The Netherlands, had just begun. I had come from my flat on the Hondestraat to my “hondebaanje” at “Europa Dada”, as I had come to refer to my employer, a soon-to-be unspectacular failure of a company. The offices were located around the corner from my place, not 50 meters from my front door, at Bredestraat 10. Bredestraat? Broad Street? A man with strong lungs could spit across it during a hurricane.
I’d come in early to get a break from the editorial department crowd, those British and French folks with whom I worked. It was around 7:00 and, at that time, I could sit at my desk quietly, knowing that it would be two hours before I would have to field jejeune questions from the British and equally jejeune insults from the French. I was relaxed and focused.
Then, a knock at the door. I know it’s a clich? but that’s what happened.
The balance of my morning was shot. Still, I decided to ignore it. That goddamned knocking! I figured whoever it was would get frustrated and leave. But it kept up. That insistent knocking. It could not be ignored. That godfordamned knocking!
I went to open the door with murder in my heart.
There was this dude standing in front of me, a hippie, hair down to his shoulders and one of those Jesus Christ beards, a bard’s beard, if you Dutch poets will pardon the pun.
“Hello, I’m Luc Dubois…”
I was not surprised that he spoke to me in English. The office language was English, though I’d never seen him.
“…Is Toon Akermanns here?”
“No. Just me.” I was in a monosyllabic mood.
“He’s supposed to be here.”
“Welcome to Europe Data.”
I’ll get on to Toon Akermanns in some detail in later chapters. Suffice it to say at this point that, by that date, six months after I had joined the company, I was fed to the teeth with that cocky, though admittedly entertaining, dwarf. The mention of his name added to my irritation. Moreover, I was the bearded, long-haired hippie-in-residence. I didn’t need any competition.
In short, my welcome was disingenuous.
“Come on in.”
I led “Luc Dubois” to the kitchen and served us up some coffee. Luckily, there wasn’t any vlaai handy. We sat there and made small talk – nothing memorable – and smoked. He appeared to be a personable guy, but he was about to become a member of the Automation Department. The Enemy. He seemed comfortable, so I bid him a insincere farewell and hauled my ass deskward.
I rarely spoke to him for months after that, though I know of many engaging events that affected Our Hero in the interim, and beforehand and afterwards.
END CHAPTER ONE.