Betty? Promoted? She never worked in an office. She doesn’t understand computers. Heck! She probably never saw one. This is 1979, the age of computers! Telecommunications and computing.
“The black phone is not for personal calls, it’s a modem.”
“Oh,” Betty hacked a smoker’s cough as she sat at her newly assigned desk—the former supervisor’s desk. “What’s a modem, Eve?”
Harry up and left for what? A better job? Left me here to manage. I managed for three weeks. I can do his job—Harry’s assurance as he balanced his heavy box of stuff out the door. He had a degree in business and experience in data analysis. Betty’s credentials? Production work in the plant for how many years? How old is she? Her generation never used computers. She’s looks 40-ish.
Eve inhaled, smiled and touched the black phone sitting on her desk. “Modem is an acronym for Modulator/Demodulator. It’s a phone line dedicated to communicate with another modem connected by a network. We send digitized bits of data from a computer to the mainframe at head-quarters through this dedicated phone. The signal is modulated into electrical signals for transmission over phone lines and it is then demodulated by another modem at head-quarters to receive the digital data.” She sipped her coffee to hide a smirk.
Betty coughed “Oh—I see. Headquarters. That’s New Jersey. All the way from Maine over to there? By phone? Without talking to anyone? Hmm. It can’t take too long for me to understand all of this computer stuff. I been working production for fifteen years here. Done some quality control and shipping too for about six years. So I’ll be able to learn how that acronym equipment works. You agree?”
“Ever work with computers?”
“Are you from around here?”
“So you graduated from a local high school?”
“Uh, not quite. Well—yeah.”
“What is it? Yes or no?”
“I quit when I was sixteen—going on seventeen!”
“So you quit in your junior year?”
“No—freshman,” she mumbled, pulled out a cigarette then reached for the ashtray. Betty bared her teeth as she grimaced. “You didn’t clean the ashtray.”
“I don’t smoke—I don’t do ashtrays.”
“Never smoked, Eve? Or quit?”
“Never. A waste of money. Bad for the lungs,” Eve paused as the plant manager rushed by the door heading for his office.
Betty stood up quickly, “So it is. So—it is. Uh, excuse me, will you? Gotta wash this out before I use it. I hate filth.” Betty pulled her shoulders back, lifting her chin high as she daintily held the offensive ashtray with forefinger and thumb and sashayed out of the office.
“Don’t you think we better get started first—Betty?”
Betty disappeared around the corner.
Eve’s smirk changed to a sneer.
So Harry had a falling out with the manager. Two strong-willed men and the subordinate makes a bad move. Never argue with the boss, Harry.
See what you’ve done to me, Harry? You got a new job, and I got… Betty.
Eve used the free time to re-arrange her desk and organize files for Betty. Twenty minutes later, she groaned as she began the day’s data entry due by 2:00 PM, transmitted by 3:00, received and verified by New Jersey by 4:30 then printed on the line printer before 5:00. She gritted her teeth, Where the hell is Betty?
As Eve focused on keying data Betty and the plant manager entered the room. The clock indicated fifty-eight minutes since she left.
“Hello George. Betty. You forget the ashtray?”
“Oh. Uh… I put it somewhere. Maybe I left it in your office, George. Did you notice it?” Betty coughed a chuckle as she placed her fingers over her lips and smiled with chin up and chest out—pointing to the plant manager.
“Oh, bother,” Eve mumbled and returned to the keyboard.
“What, dear?” Betty patted Eve’s shoulder.
George glanced at the clock and out the door, “I have to go. Eve, teach Betty everything she has to know. She’s got lots to learn. Make it quick. Let me know if you need anything to make it happen.” He dashed back to his office. Betty’s hand rose slightly as if to touch his arm, but she immediately retracted its movement and stuffed the errant hand in her silk, slacks’ pocket.
“I’ll be back. Got to find that ashtray so I can wash it.”
What on earth… ? She’s been here for two hours and hasn’t done a thing. “We got lots to do,” Eve shouted as Betty disappeared around the corner once more.