Technical gibberish

"The Ex-Executive Assistant" is a comedic story about a young man who loses both his job and his girlfriend on the same day.

Recap: Shep and Lyle were hanging out at home on Saturday morning when their grandparents dropped by for an unexpected visit. Shep bailed to visit his girlfriend, but immediately returned home after having a heated argument. Lyle’s grandpa says he found the perfect job for Lyle, which is why they wanted to visit. 

Lyle returned to the living room with two cups of tea and handed one to each of his grandparents. Shep sat in his recliner, taking a long sip from his mug.

“How’s that coffee?” Lyle’s grandpa asked Shep.

Shep grinned. “Intoxicating.”

“So, Grandpa,” Lyle said, taking a seat, “about that job?”

“What job?” his grandpa asked.

“What do you mean, ‘what job’?” his grandma said. “The job we drove all the way up here to tell him about – that’s what job! You don’t remember anything anymore.”

“My memory’s perfectly fine,” Lyle’s grandpa said. “I was just confused, that’s all. I thought he was asking about my job.”

“What job? You don’t even have a job! You’ve been retired for twelve years!”

“That’s why I was confused.”

“You’ve been confused all day. What’s wrong with you? You never would have found your way up here if it hadn’t been for me.”

“I’m just tired,” Lyle’s grandpa said. “I didn’t get enough coffee this morning.”

“We have coffee, Grandpa,” Shep said.

“Right,” Lyle’s grandpa said, “but you don’t have creamer. What good is coffee if you don’t have creamer?”

“They gave you tea,” Lyle’s grandma said. “You’ll drink what you were served and you’ll like it.”

Lyle’s grandpa frowned. “But I don’t like tea.”

“You don’t have to drink the tea, Grandpa,” Shep said. “I can run to the store and get creamer.”

“You are not running to the store to get creamer!” Lyle’s grandma said, yelling. “He can drink the tea!”

Lyle’s grandpa looked at Shep. “I can drink the tea.”

“Grandpa,” Lyle said. “The job?”

“Ah. Right.” His grandpa pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to Lyle. “I found this posting on the Internet and immediately thought of you. I think you’d be perfect for it.”

Lyle skimmed the job description. “This is for a web developer.”

“Take a look at that salary!” his grandpa said. “Can you believe that? Who knew you could make so much with computers?”

“Grandpa, I don’t know anything about web development. I’m a journalist.”

“You know about web development,” his grandpa said, giving a dismissive wave.

“No I don’t. I don’t understand any of this.”

“What’s there to understand? It’s computers! You use computers all the time.”

“I can use a computer, but that doesn’t make me a web developer. It’s the same way I can drive a car, but I can’t change my own oil.”

“You can’t change your own oil?” Shep asked.

“I’m just trying to draw an example,” Lyle said.

“Changing your own oil is the easiest thing in the world.”

“No,” Lyle said, “taking your car to Jiffy Lube is the easiest thing in the world. They can do it in five minutes because they have the equipment and expertise.”

“I’ll change your oil if you don’t know how,” Shep said.

“I’m not talking about changing oil!” Lyle said. “I’m talking about web development!”

“What’s there to know?” Lyle’s grandpa asked. “It’s just using computers.”

“Grandpa, it’s more than just using computers. They have a whole list of requirements here, and I don’t meet any of them.”

His grandpa frowned. “What are you talking about?”

“It says here you need expert knowledge of Pearl, Javascript, MySQL, CSS spreadsheets and database management. You also need experience managing Linux-based servers and implementing network infrastructure.”

“So?”

“So? I don’t understand any of that! It’s all just technical gibberish to me. I could never be a web developer.”

“What about that website you made when we had the family reunion?” Lyle’s grandpa asked. “You know, the one with all the pictures on it?”

“Oh, yeah,” Shep said. “I liked that website.”

Lyle sighed. “I built that using iWeb, Grandpa. It was consumer software Apple developed so ordinary people could create basic websites. I don’t even use it anymore because Apple stopped updating it.”

“Is that why the site’s gone?” Shep asked.

“No. The site’s gone because Apple discontinued its web-hosting service, and I don’t know how to move the site to another provider.”

“Talk about technical gibberish!” Lyle’s grandpa said. “And here you are saying you’re not qualified for the job.”

“I’m not qualified for the job, Grandpa! I couldn’t be a web developer any more than I can change the oil in a car.”

“I’ll teach you how to change the oil in a car,” Shep said.

“I don’t care about changing the oil in a car! I take my car to Jiffy Lube! They do it in ten minutes!”

“You know,” Lyle’s grandpa said, “I think you’re happier not working. That’s why you don’t want the job. You’ve gotten lazy. You’d rather stay home and sleep in every day.”

“Grandpa, please!” Lyle said. “I’m not lazy. It’s just that I genuinely know nothing about web development.”

“Well, then you need to learn. You have to work somewhere.”

“I already have a skill set. I’m a trained journalist.”

“So where can you work, then? You said newspapers are going out of business.”

“That’s the problem. I have a skill set nobody needs.”

“Then you need a new skill set. If I were you, I’d go into web development. Did you see that salary?”

“Yes, Grandpa, I did see the salary. It’s so high because the job requires a lot of knowledge – knowledge that I don’t have and can never learn.”

“Not with that attitude.” Lyle’s grandpa crossed his arms.

“It’s not my attitude! What do you want me to do – take out another student loan and go to college for four more years?”

“I didn’t go to college, and I have a job,” Shep said.

Lyle glared. “We’re not talking about you.”

“Your grandpa’s just worried about you,” Lyle’s grandma said. “We both want you to find a job that makes you happy.”

“Who cares if he’s happy?” Lyle’s grandpa asked. “He just needs a job. He doesn’t need to be happy.”

“I care if he’s happy!” Lyle’s grandma said. “He has a right to be happy!”

“Who has a right to be happy?” Lyle’s grandpa asked. “I worked hard for forty years, and I was never happy.”

He turned to Shep. “Shep, you have a job. Are you happy?”

“No, I’m not happy,” Shep said. “In fact, now that Cassie and I are broken up, I’m suicidal.”

“See?” Lyle’s grandpa said. “No one takes a job to be happy. You take a job to survive.”

“Who wants to survive if you can’t be happy?” Lyle’s grandma asked. “There’s no point in living if you can’t be happy.”

“Actually, I’m starting to believe there’s no point in living – period,” Lyle said.

“Now look what you did!” Lyle’s grandma said, yelling at her husband. “You pushed him too hard, and now he’s depressed.”

“Him? What about me?” Shep asked. “I’m the one who’s suicidal.”

“You’re not the only one,” Lyle said.

“Apologize to your grandson!” Lyle’s grandma said, pointing at her husband.

“Why should I apologize? This is stuff he needs to hear.”

“Apologize, or you don’t get any of my prizewinning pumpkin pie tonight.”

“What are you talking about? That’s ridiculous.”

Lyle’s grandma narrowed her eyes. “Apologize.”

Lyle’s grandpa sighed. “Lyle, I’m sorry if I sounded too harsh. I guess I’m a little grouchy because I didn’t have enough coffee this morning.”

“Why didn’t you have enough coffee?” Lyle asked.

Lyle’s grandpa shot a look at his wife. “Because we ran out of creamer.”