The PC People

Posted on Friday 6th October 2006 at 00:00
In the country is a city and in the city is a university and in the university is a building and in the building is a room and in the room are computers. This is one of the PC Labs and in the PC Labs live the PC People. There are many PC People: big ones; little ones; fat ones; thin ones; old ones; young ones; hairy ones and hairless ones.

Adrian the academic is always in the PC Lab. Every pc lab in fact. Sometimes he is not Adrian but Adriana and not a he but a she. Adrian and Adriana are sat either side of me now. Both alone, silent and so buried in work they've probably forgotten there are other people in the room. These two academics always have either a folder full of notes or a pad of lined paper on the desk in front of them and are concerned solely with their work. If they have fun (and maybe they do) then they have it at other times, but not here; not now.

The Giggle Girls are never in the PC Lab when you arrive. They are cleverer than that. They wait & who knows where & until the exact moment when you are too far into whatever you are doing to get up and move. Sometimes there are two of them but more often than not three is the crowd they desire. When they enter the room all the other PC People know they are there. No one knows where their laughter comes from nor why, but something is apparently happening in their lives that is so funny they can't stop laughing about it in loud, high pitched voices. No amount of cross looks or shhhing from the other PC People will quiet them as they are so engrossed in their laughter that they scarcely notice anybody else is there. You know when they leave as the silence which follows their departure is all consuming and not even the roar of the air con and its phonic counterpart in the fans of the computers can break it.

The Giggle Girls are second to none for annoyance save the Boisterous Boys. These testosterone junkies are as manly as they come and definitely not gay, and they want everyone in the room to know it. These creatures are in fact a hybrid of their football playing cousins and the sort of drunken thugs who've long since scared regular people out of the city centre at night. For them the computers are a quick source of sports news as well as an opportunity to wonder out loud the answers to questions they really should know already, such as where the library is. No one is sorry when this crowd gets bored and heads back to the bar.

The Friends are possibly the most common breed of the PC People. They usually come in the form of two girls or occasionally a girl and a guy, though never two guys. These two may talk but usually in quiet voices that can only fall foul of eves droppers if neither the Giggle Girls nor Boisterous Boys are at home. Sometimes they are to be found working together on research or writing up and project or downloading lecture slides. Other times they pursue private projects quite apart from any academic commitment they might have. Holidays are often booking in this manor, and evenings out usually have their genesis here.

Silent loners are nearly as common. No one knows what they think as they sit there alone, checking emails and looking at photos from nights out now published on the World Wide Web. In many ways these are the victims of a system that puts practicality before timetabling friends together. They wait for an hour, maybe two for friends to return from lectures to greet them and for their own lectures to begin.

A group whose numbers fluctuate in time with the passing of deadlines is the Last Minute Panicers. Though relatively few and far between in early October, these disorganised creatures will soon take over every computer in every PC lab in the University, desperately trying to do in a day what the academics have been doing all term. Listen closely and you can tell from their chatter which modules and which subjects have deadlines fast approaching. It is common to find a whole class in at a time all trying to do exactly the same thing without being accused of copying and sharing ideas. This group very rarely bothers with that interweb thing as they are slaves to the word document, powerpoint presentation or excel spreadsheet that will never ever let them go.

And then there is me; your humble narrator and observer, your eyes in this crazy world of production line educations, taking a break between lectures to faithfully recite for you my tale of the PC People.

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