I used to work for an alien. He didn’t come right out and say he was an alien. He never pulled his face off or tried to eat me or anything like that. But I had my suspicions from the beginning; it was the way he acted and reacted to things. Taken individually, his quirks were just that: quirks. If he’d been rich, you might have called him “eccentric”. But added all together, it was obvious. He was an alien.
There are a lot of aliens in I.T. They tend to be early adopters of technology yet run the arcane equipment in the back lab. My boss – the alien – had an early cell phone earpiece. It looked like someone had stabbed him in the ear with a corkscrew. He’d start conversations with me and after a bit his answers would make even less sense than normal. Eventually I’d get it; he wasn’t talking to me, but rather the little voices in his head. He had worked with our software offering for over a decade by that point. I started out asking him how to do things, but soon I realized the current versions of the application worked a little differently in the modern days of Windows based computing.
Our system kept track of our clients and our interactions with them. It also had a special cross-reference against nearby restaurants. Anything worth doing was worth getting goofy over. He’d obsess over our lunch plans. We’d go out and I’d get criticized for ordering things plain… in between the fifteen minutes he’d take to order a hamburger just so. He drank “kiddie cocktails”. He really liked NASCAR. That in itself isn’t odd, but everything he touched, wore, stacked, signed or put on a shelf in his office had some relationship to Jeff Gordon. I like to think it was just a serious man-crush; I’m sure he didn’t have any Jeff Gordon DNA in a Petrie dish in some back room in his basement office ready to be cloned into a race of really fast driving slaves back on K-PAX or anything.
I think he had been taking human being lessons back on the home world, but he wasn’t a very good student. His reactions were always a bit… off.
He was polite. “How are you doing?” he might ask.
“Not so good,” I might reply. “My dog was hit by a car yesterday.”
“Really?” he might reply. “What kind of car was it?” He would suddenly flare up in these insane bouts of anger, stalking and stamping and roaring about something and then – suddenly – he was back to his “normal” self, his bland expression actually showing some signs of concern.
“You’re hair seems to be standing up on end,” he’d say. “Is everything all right?”
In the end, I lost my job because – like most aliens – he didn’t understand the concept of money. They – of course – stopped using anything so outmoded centuries ago. While it had been a challenge working there, I found I missed it later on… especially when I found myself working with an a##$%^& from Earth.