Andrew pulled on his coat and closed his briefcase, then glanced back at the computer screen. The message was still there. ‘Saving…’

“Come on,” he mumbled, “the spreadsheet isn’t that big.”

But Andrew wasn’t the type of worker who could comfortably walk out on that kind of message. The economy wasn’t in the best of shape, and this was not the time for him to be looking for a new job. He stood and stared at the screen, glancing at his watch every minute or so and thinking about the bus schedule.

A secondary window opened on the screen. In big bold letters it said ‘LISTEN’. A moment later the window vanished.

Andrew listened. It wasn’t like he had anything else to do while he waited. As he strained his ears he heard a faint sob from somewhere in the cube farm. It was followed by an incoherent growl of frustration, which was enough for him to see the top of a head about a dozen cubes away from his. Somebody else was having trouble too, from the sound of it.

He walked up the aisle and found a woman he didn’t know. She had her coat on and was staring at the screen. The status window was familiar: ‘Saving…’

“You too, huh?”

She squeaked and started, then turned around. “Who are you?” She clutched her purse in front of her like a shield.

“Andrew Stevens. I work over there.” He waved in the vague direction of his desk. “My computer’s doing the same thing.”

“Oh. I’m Tanya. Tanya Meier. Do you know what’s wrong?”

“Not a clue. Mine’s being doing that for a good ten minutes. And I don’t trust the network enough to just leave it.”

“Me neither. I’ve only been working here a couple of weeks, and my document is due first thing tomorrow morning.”

“For the Ops meeting?”

“Yeah. You too?”

Andrew nodded. They both stared at the window and the little swirling icon for a few minutes. Finally Tanya spoke.

“Come on, network, I want to get out of here today.”

“You have plans?”

“No, just me and the TV. How about you?”

“The same.”

They watched the screen some more. The progress bar moved a few pixels, just to taunt them. Finally Tanya looked at his watch.

“Well, that’s my bus gone. It’s an hour ‘til the next one.”

Andrew checked. “Me too. You want to grab a bite to eat when we get out of here? I know a good deli that should be open.”

Tanya smiled. “Sure. Provided this ever ends.”

As if on cue, the progress bar advanced to 100% and the computer began its shutdown sequence. Andrew went back to his desk and saw the same. The last window open read. “Saved.”


Years later, when the kids asked, Andrew would swear that a window had flashed up for just a second during shutdown, saying “You have your chance. Don’t let her get away.”