Around Noon, Dan’s phone rang. “Hey Dan, are you ready for lunch?” Bob asked in his usual cheerful voice.
“I would like nothing better right now, Bob, but I’ll have to take a rain check. No time today. I need to leave not later than 6:00 p.m. and need to get as much done on the new program I’m working on to get it ready to send to State Ed by Monday.”
“You don’t seriously think you’ll get that done in one day, Dan,” Bob said, scoffing.
“No, I’m just starting to put a rough draft of the proposal together that I’ll work on through the weekend. I want it ready by Monday as an extra incentive for Marvin to give me the lab I need—especially if I can work it out so there’s no significant cost involved by trading for the old Apple IIe computers—I have someone coming in Monday before Noon to look at our computers and bring a generic clone he says he’ll trade for them. I want all my ducks in a row to seal the deal if the clone PC system checks out. The Melameds are sending their IT guy from the Manhattan school to evaluate the sample PC and I want him to take back a copy of the proposal I intend to file on Monday which calls for 20 PC-compatible computers in one of our labs. No computers, no program. I know they want the program, so I’m going to do whatever it takes to make it hard for them not to agree to the computer swap or some other alternative if that falls through.”
“You know, Dan,” Bob answered in a sober tone, “If you get them to agree and something goes wrong, it will likely mean your job. You understand that, right?”
“Yeah, I know. But it’s worth the risk. I don’t buy the argument that it makes no difference what computer platform we use or what programs we teach our students because as long as they know the basic concepts, employers can train them on any software they want. You know better than anyone that’s unadulterated crap. The help wanted ads for secretaries and office support personnel are very specific as to what software proficiency applicants need—and it’s not typing simulations on Apple IIe computers they’re looking for” Dan replied.
“Hey, you’re preaching to the converted. I’m 100 percent with you on that. I just don’t want to see you canned. Remember: under promise and over deliver. The Melameds will take for granted that you can do what you claim and won’t be much impressed when you simply deliver what you promised. But they’ll be thrilled if you deliver more than you promised. And if you deliver less than you promised . . .”
“I know, I know,” Dan sighed. “But this is important, and I need to get it done before the thrill of the shiny new moneymaker fades for them. If I do nothing else while I’m here, that will make a lasting difference. The rest is irrelevant for me. If I get fired, I’ll land on my feet. I have no real ambition for advancement here and no fear of failure for setting the bar high knowing I may not reach it. I can’t in good conscience not try to change what I know needs changing.”
“The problem with you is you’re an idealist. And you know what happens to them, right?” Bob said, chuckling again.
“They miss out on lunch with their friends?” Dan quipped.
“Yeah, and then they turn into bitter, angry, unemployed realists that leave their friends to eat lunch alone permanently.” Bob replied with a half-hearted chuckle.
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