Mason's car -- "The Mobile Nerd Command Center" or MNC2 for short -- died the morning of the most disastrous job interview of his life. He practically lived out of the MNC2, charging his device-array -- phone, email pager, GPS, laptop, MP3 player, digital camera, and PDA -- from the DC inverter that dangled from a wad of duct-tape around the cigarette lighter; the back seat was full of dead Mountain Dews and empty coffee-cups from Highway 101's many Starbuckses; and both sun visors bore clip-on CD organizers filled with home-burned MP3 CDs that contained six hundred plus hours of music.Link Discuss
As Mason pulled into the empty Menlo Park parking-lot that morning, the dashboard lit up christmas with a Defcon 5 array of idiot-lights. Six different chimes sounded from the absolutely spectacular sound-system, resonating with jeep-beat bass that made his gut churn. The engine died as he pulled into the spot and the transmission made a horrible, grinding noise as he shifted into park. When he switched off the ignition, the engine made a chuggetta-chuggetta noise that sounded like a cartoon foley effect. Mason had a vision of his car's hood popping open and emitting a geyser of steam, followed by all four tires going flat in unison, but the chuggetas died down and he was sitting in the parking lot, seated at the conn of the former Mobile Nerd Command Center, with twenty minutes to his job interview.
Job interview! He cringed at the words, cringed at the memory of the grueling, humiliating pre-test he'd had to do to even *get* a job-interview, which had included fifteen essay questions on the history of the Internet, the fine points of Microsoft Foundation Classes, and SQL query-syntax. He'd had to define a glossary of no fewer than 30 technical terms, including "PEBKAC" ("Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair"), which had been his freaking *login* for five years on an underpowered Solaris box at his ISP.