What’s That Lying On The Table?

My Writing Projects

Part II – What’s That Lying On The


It was late October, 1992. The weather in Columbia, South Carolina was great. It was seventy two degrees outside but I was indoors, at work and working hard.

Ten printers, three feet tall and four feet wide, roared away in the computer room. The walls, ceiling and floors of the 1000 square foot room were a glistening white. Three mainframe computers sat and hummed in the middle of the room. Four reel tape drives along with four cabinets were positioned against the left wall. Against the right wall were the printers spitting out page after page of marketing, sales, manufacturing and financial data.

With the exception of the occasional phone ring, the MIS (Management Information System) office was much quieter. The office was rectangular. Desks were placed against all four walls and a long conference table, adorned by ten chairs, sat in the middle. Ten terminals sat on the tables, four each on the two long sides of the room and two each on the two short sides.

I went from terminal to terminal typing commands but not pressing the enter button. I looked at my watch and then I looked at the clock. I looked at the visitor who sat in the office shuffling paperwork. He was an I/T manager from the head office in New York. He watched how I ran the computer operations room. When the clock reached 4:00pm, I went from terminal to terminal pressing the enter button. Each screen brightened as symbols and text rapidly scrolled across their displays.

I opened the door that led into the computer room. I pulled several tapes from the shelves and loaded the reels on the tape mounts. I left the reels in standby mode and walked back into the computer room. The manager from the New York office was standing up now. He’d been watching my every move. He continued to watch as I went to several terminals whose programming had finished. I typed commands one by one, pressing enter after typing and then the tape reels started turning.

“You ever thought about working in New York?” he asked.

“I think about it all the time”, I responded.

“How would you like to be a roadie like me, learning new applications, testing software, writing training programs and then running field deployments projects all over the country?”

“Where do I sign up?” I asked.

The manager from New York laughed, “I’ll have one my guys call you next week. It will be a phone interview.”

“Okay, I’ll be ready”, I said, my voice hardly containing my excitement.

“By the way, what’s that lying on the table over there?”, he asked.

My self published, self made, poetry chapbook titled ‘Social Conscience’ laid next to my briefcase on one of the tables. It had fallen out of my bag.

“Oh, that is my poetry chapbook”, I said.

“Your poetry chapbook? Oh, so you are a poet?” he asked.

“Yes, I am. I started writing for the public a few months ago. One of my poems was just published in a poetry journal out of Atlanta”, I answered.

“Dude. That’s cool. My I take a look?” he asked extending his hand.

I gave him the book, he started reading and I went about finishing up my work. I glanced at him from time to time and he smiled as he read.

“You can keep that one if you like it”, I


“How much?”, he asked.

“Gratis”, I answered.

“Why thank you. I like what I

read so far”, he said, “This is amazing work. Do me a favor though.”

“What’s that”, I asked.

“If you get this job in New York, don’t stop writing”

“What if I don’t get the job in New York?” I asked.

“Don’t worry about that and don’t stop writing”, he answered.

“No problem. I won’t worry and I plan to continue my writing”, I said as I wrapped up my work for the day.