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Typical Day

Charlie Crashmeister's smartphone beeps incessantly from across the bedroom. Annoying, yes, but not nearly enough to wake Charlie out of his stupor. Next, his iPod blasts Queen's "We Will Rock You" as loud as the device can go without blowing out its internal speakers. Charlie groans and rolls over, pulling the covers over his ears. Finally, his Star Trek "shuttle bay doors" alarm clock does the trick. Sirens are really hard to ignore, especially when they penetrate the upper range of your hearing...again and again and again. Charlie bellows a few choice words, glances at the clock, and heaves himself out of bed and into the shower. No time for the snooze alarm today.

Less than 15 minutes later, Charlie has showered, shaved, and thrown on a clean company polo and reasonably clean khaki pants. Good thing they provide these polos, he thinks, because otherwise he'd be wearing the same shirt until he couldn't stand himself anymore. Charlie grabs a couple of granola bars as he runs out the door, frantically trying to hit the office before his 8am starting time. He makes it with two minutes to spare. Charlie boots up his computer and scans his daily call sheet to see whose computer he can destroy, er, fix today.

You're goin' down, Dell!

However, Charlie can't get out the door just yet. First, he must endure an excruciating all-hands meeting conducted by a sadistic office manager with way too much time on her nicely manicured hands. Finally he escapes and speeds across town to his first client, an irate father who has just found an extensive porn library on his 17-year-old son's PC. The kid is so organized that he's cross-referenced the DVDs so he (and his friends) can find them more easily. The cyberwizard's father wants the DVDs gone by the time the son gets home from school. The father also wants blocking software installed so the kid can't rebuild his inappropriate database. Although the kid has cleverly disguised the files as classroom assignments, Charlie finally locates and destroys them all. Two hours later, he installs the blocking software, wishing he could be a fly on the wall for that family confrontation.

Next up: a client who hasn't been able to hook up to the Internet for two days. She's rebooted her system and checked her connections so many times she's lost count. She's repeatedly called her service provider, who refuses to believe the glitch could be the company's fault. Charlie gets on the phone and strong-arms the smug service rep who's clearly speaking from a prepared script. Finally, the rep admits the blockage results from a scrambled signal from the company's regional server. He re-routes the woman's line to a functioning server, and her search engine screen magically appears. This guy is clearly no match for Charlie's cunning tenacity.

Time for lunch, which is probably another greasy burger and overcooked fries from Charlie's favorite drive-through. The food's enough to rot your stomach and clog your arteries, but it's cheap and convenient, which is why Charlie wolfs it down every day. Finally, he belches up the foul-smelling remnants, slurps down his 32-oz. soda, and whips out of the parking lot to his first afternoon appointment.

Well, here's something a bit different: a business that's so slammed they've had to add two more employee workstations. Trouble is, none of the five office computers are networked; this makes placing, tracking, and billing orders rather inefficient. Charlie spends the next two hours running cables, updating software, and testing the newly networked system's functionality. Meanwhile, employees pace the floor impatiently as the work piles up. Just when Charlie thinks he can wrap up the job, he discovers a virus that's attached itself to many employee emails. Blast it, Charlie thinks, this wasn't on the schedule—and he might spend another hour here. He tracks down and eliminates the virus; then he installs a top-notch anti-virus program that should prevent (or at least delay) another attack.

This is one way to destroy a computer...from long range.

Now Charlie has spent almost three hours on this networking project, and he still has one more stop to make. In contrast to his last client, this company is trying to nurse its ancient computers along until the firm's sales pick up. It's an exercise in futility, as the business' processing and storage needs far outstrip the computers' feeble CPU and hard drive capabilities. Charlie manages to buy the company another week or two, although the computer's ultimate demise is right around the corner. Translated: This computer is about to be toast.

Finally, Charlie is finished with his calls, although he still hasn't written up his invoices or computed his mileage. That can wait until tomorrow, he figures. Right now he needs to work off some stress from his mind-numbingly tedious workday. He heads to the gym, where he sweats through three miles on the treadmill and knocks off his weight-training workout. Grabbing (and eating) a sub on the way to his apartment, he plops himself on the couch to commune with his remote. That plan doesn't last long, however, as Charlie passes out halfway through an ear-splitting reality show set on a stock-car racetrack. Guess he'll have to find out who gets eliminated—and who survives—tomorrow.