Monday November 18, 2002:
I have a confession to make dear diary: I badly misjudged somebody.
So around about 2pm, Miller buzzes me on my walkie:
“Calhoun, that asshole Dr Magnusson is bitchin’ about something in Anomalous Materials. Lab 3C. Can you get over there and see what’s what?”
I sighed. “Can’t Otis deal with it?”
“I can’t get a hold of him,” said Miller. “His radio’s mysteriously started malfunctioning.” Otis was terrified of Dr Magnusson.
So I hauled ass over to Sector C. When I got to the lab I found Magnusson pacing up and down with a soda in his hand, looking like a stormcloud in a suit. The other scientists were all keeping their distance, as if they were sharing the room with a sabre-tooth tiger.
“Oh, it’s you! Well, it’s about time!” he said when he saw me, “Where on Earth have you been? We don’t pay you people to mosey around at your own convenience you know!”
“What seems to be the problem doctor?” I asked, trying to control my voice.
He pointed at his computer.
“This damn thing has locked me out. I’ve input my password three times and it won’t let me in. I can’t access my files. I can’t answer my mail. I suspect that some malcontent has deliberately altered my security settings!”
Now IT services aren’t really my deal, but it’s true that cyber security is part of the job. I tried my best to troubleshoot, but it was hard when Magnusson was shouting into my ear.
“Come on man!” he yelled, “If I’m not able to get my report to the administrator in the next hour, then my job will be in serious jeopardy, and I’ll make sure that mine is not the only one.”
I felt like a real bootlicker, keeping my mouth shut while he went off on me. It’s sad what you’ll endure for the sake of a pay cheque.
But then that goatee guy with the glasses brushed past us, and as he did so, I saw him drop something into Magnusson’s cup. It was so subtle, and Magnusson was so busy ranting, that he didn’t notice, but I caught it.
Magnusson was just telling me about how he was going to ruin my career when, all of a sudden, his soda just exploded. It started fizzing like crazy, and then just burst up like a geyser. He let out a shriek, and the drink splashed him in the face and spilled all down his suit. It was hilarious.
For a moment, no-one said anything. We were all sure that Dr Magnusson was going to explode too. His face was tomato red, but amazingly, he didn’t say anything! He just put down the cup, turned around, and shuffled out the lab, heading in the direction of the locker room.
Everyone waited until he was out of earshot before we all started giggling. Seems as though Dr Magnusson is even less popular with his colleagues than he is with security.
As I was leaving, I tapped the goatee guy on the shoulder and said: “Hey man, what the hell did you do back there?”
He showed me a box of Mentos he kept hidden in his pocket. Told me it was a simple chemical reaction: the rapid nucleation of carbon dioxide caused by introducing candy to a carbonated liquid. That made me laugh even more. I asked him his name and he told me.
Gordon. Gordon Freeman.
“Well Freeman,” I said, “I owe you a beer.”
He smiled and he’d take me up on it. You know what? Maybe some of these scientists aint so bad after all. At least Freeman’s on my side.
Wanna know the best part? I fixed Magnusson’s computer by turning it off and on again.