The broken keyboard

“Hi boss, do you have a moment?”

“No, sorry, I am going to a meeting,” he said grabbing his bag, with his hand, which already held a cigarette, a lighter peeping out of his other hand.

I followed him along the corridor, hurrying to keep his pace.

“I just wanted to remind you about the order for a new keyboard, it is important.”

“Yeah, yeah, you want to bleed me dry, with your request for more and more and more…” Mr. Wash said, springing down the stairs and out of the entrance, and then opening the car door with a powerful swing.

“No, but…I really cannot work like that, boss,” I shouted after him from the building entry.

“I will sign the order this afternoon, make it work for a few more days, use your creative skills,” he shouted at me before closing the car door.

Back in the office my colleague laughed after seeing my face.

“That scoundrel, he is so stingy that he would let us still use pen and paper to write letters,” he said.

I sat down and looked at my inbox, annoyed at the thought of having to spend a few more days with a defective keyboard.

Next day I checked with my colleague whether the order had been signed. At his negative reply I felt my face burning, my breath caught in my chest.

“Sorry, he said it is not a priority at the moment, maybe in a couple of months,” my colleague said, with an apologetic smile. He then leaned towards me and whispered, “we are actually accepting bets on when you will get a new one, do you want in?” If my eyes were a laser, my colleague would have been incinerated on the spot. I did not utter a word and turned on my heels. I went to see my colleague again and put three hundred euros, all the money I had in my wallet for the month, and said: “I bet I will get one within a week.” He laughed and accepted my bet, giving me a 9 to 1 chance to win. He had been working in the purchase department for ages and he knew our boss and all the facets of his stinginess very well.

I walked back to my office and started my working day with a purpose, replying all the e-mails I had postponed up to then, waiting for a new keyboard.

I kept working like a crazy man for a few days, checking regularly how the betting was going. By the deadline everybody around me was cheerful, already savouring my losing and anticipating the jackpot, quite relevant for an office bet. That mood lasted until noon. Then Mr Wash came in person to hand me a cool brand new keyboard. He looked at me and shook his index and said, “lucky you that I do have a sense of humour.”

My colleague from the purchase department fell off the chair when he heard. He and all the others who placed a bet asked me how I managed to get one. I printed an e-mail and gave it to them. “This is a sample of the e-mails I have been writing this last week.”


“De4r Mr. C4rolw1de,

We th4nk you for your 1nqu1ry 4bout our l4test product. Ple4se f1nd here enclosed our brochure w1th the relev4nt techn1c4l det41ls. One of our represent4t1ves, Mrs Sm1th would be gl4d to g1ve 4 demonstr4t1on on your prem1ses 4t your conven1ence. She w1ll cont4ct you to 4rr4nge for 4 su1t4ble d4y.

We rem41n 4t your d1spos4l, should you h4ve 4ny further quest1ons.

Ple4se note th4t due to 4 techn1c4l problem, we 4re currently not 4ble to use the full extent of our keybo4rd. To re4d th1s text more e4s1ly, ple4se repl4ce the number “4” 1n the text w1th the letter “A” 4nd the number “1” w1th the letter “i”.

For 4ny compl41nts ple4se 4ddress yourself d1rectly to Mr. W4sh.

Best reg4rds,”

I smiled and stretched out my hand: “now, show me the money”.


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