I am sitting in a charge nurse meeting at work, listening to the Information Technology (I.T.) guy explain why our computers are so slow.
“It turns out,” he says, “the trouble is with their dongles, so – ”
My eyes pop open.
“Dongles?” I burst out involuntarily, incredulous. “Did you say dongles?”
The I.T. guy misunderstands my reaction. “Yes,” he says earnestly. “Little antennas that plug into – ”
I’m not listening anymore. A whole new continent has just been discovered, a brand new world has opened up before me, ripe for exploring.
Computers have dongles!
I sit motionless in my chair, palms flat on the table, mouth open, my mind racing. I’m trying to absorb this utterly unexpected and astonishing news.
The computers are slow because there’s something wrong with their dongles!
Of course! No one wants to admit that his dongle is defective!
A whole network of computers – all grappling with their imperfect dongles! Each computer too focused on his own faulty dongle to pay attention to anything else!
No wonder the system is slow!
Another thought hits me. Where is the computer’s dongle? We have our hands all over our computers, all day – maybe we’ve been fumbling around with his dongle without knowing it! Good Lord, how is the computer supposed to function when nurses are messing around with his dongle all the time?
And just how many dongles does each computer have, anyway?
A new animal comes lumbering out of the foliage of my newly-discovered continent, covered in dongles. Dongles sprout from his body and swing freely as he ambles towards me.
He peers at me through dangling dongles.
Multiple dangling dongles! The envy of all men!
My mind leaps forward, spinning. How many dongles need to be out of order before the computer slows down? Will one faulty dongle crash the whole system? One damaged dongle, and the computer falls apart, goes limp, can’t cope?
Or are some dongles spares? Back-up dongles that can step up and perform if the original dongle malfunctions or misfires?
Way to go, computers!
The envy of all women!
Everything would have been okay – I could have stifled my laughter and successfully finished the meeting like an adult – had not one of my best friends, Karen, been sitting next to me.
She is turned away from me, listening respectfully to the I.T. guy’s presentation.
I whisper to her back: “Dongles! Computers have dongles!”
I can’t see her face, but I know she hears me.
I can tell by her swift intake of air. The way her back suddenly freezes. The way her hand flies to her mouth.
And then her shoulders are shaking in silent laughter.
Of course, once I see her laughing, I start giggling too. I cover my mouth with one hand. We’re in a meeting, for God’s sake! Muffled giggles escape. Now I have both hands over my mouth, trying to smother my laughter, force it back down my throat.
We’re desperately trying to keep quiet. The I.T. guy is still talking about computer dongles.
Karen is making little snorting noises now, her shoulders shaking wildly. She bows her head, trying to control herself. Her struggle makes me laugh harder. Tears well up and spill helplessly down my cheeks as I giggle wildly into my hands.
High-pitched squeaking noises leak out from between our fingers.
Here are two grown women, giggling like a couple of girls in church.
Once you get to that “desperately trying to suppress your laughter in a place where you’re not supposed to be laughing in the first place” stage, it’s all over.
I close my eyes, beg myself: Shhhhhhhh!
I hear the I.T. guy’s voice falter, trail off, stop. I peek at him over my cupped hands. He’s staring uncertainly at Karen and me, back and forth, taken aback. We both have our hands over our mouths, eyes watering, shoulders shaking. Everyone is watching us.
There is a long, long pause.
And then Karen and I burst out laughing. We’re pounding the table, gasping for air, roaring with laughter. We can’t help it! The other charge nurses exchange looks: There they go again.
Seriously, people: Computer dongles!
Defective computer dongles, slowing down the whole damn system!
All those computers, trying to function with inadequate dongles! Nobody wants a substandard dongle! Every computer wants his dongle to be at its very tip-top best!
Somehow Karen and I manage to pull ourselves together, apologize sheepishly to the group. The I.T. guy cautiously continues.
I have two words of advice for everyone:
First: Don’t sit next to your best friend in meetings. It’s dangerous. Especially if some unfortunate guy is discussing dongles, of all things.
And second: If you find your computer is slow, check his dongle.
It just might need some attention.