Lewis & Clark College boasts a robust administrative staff of experienced professionals. They seem to spend their days bustling about, answering phone calls, typing aggressively at their desktops, firing up the old fax machine, and so forth. But the truth is something rather more peculiar. And it all revolves around the individual who truly keeps the university as we know it running: Associate Deputy to the Vice President of Secondary Administration Jeannie Lawrence.
I entered the Frank Manor offices to tumbleweeds rolling and snakes rattling. A little confused, I started to turn around, when a flurry of movement caught my eye — Lawrence. I introduced myself with my pseudonym “Max Allen” and wondered aloud where everyone was.
“That is the issue, right? Those darned hackers and their malware! My colleagues are right out there,” Lawrence said.
I glanced out the window to the patio, and jumped back with a gasp. There, facing me, arranged neatly in three rows, were a couple dozen people clad in business casual, smiling vaguely, glazed eyes locked onto my own. I asked Lawrence why they looked like that, but she waved the question away.
“Never mind that! Don’t you have some questions for me?” she said.
I tore my gaze away from the spooky scene outside. Eyes on the prize.
“Uh — yes, yes. What are your roles as an Associate Deputy Assistant to the Vice President of Secondary Administration?”
“Oh, you know. The basics,” Lawrence said. “Getting people coffee, feeding the mascots, keeping the machines running, maintaining every essential function within the college as well as managing every important internal and external communication, holding the physical and metaphysical fabrics of space and time together on our campus. Also copy-making”
“Wow, that seems intense. How do you manage all that?” I asked. Privately, I wondered whether I would be able to manage it when this place was ours.
Jeannie’s voice brought me back to the present. “You know, it sure helps to have such a well-oiled team — although these past few weeks have been tough for me,” she said. “Those bloomin’ hackers, I tell you what. Ever since it all went down, I just have not been able to keep up. Washing machines going haywire, along with CSCPay — first time they have ever cooperated with each other. Water stopped flowing in the Bon for a while there; student vandalism has been way up, they are stealing all the ampersands now, for unknown purposes; campus squirrels are chonkier than ever — oops! There goes the Dean again!”
Outside the window, a middle-aged fellow in a salmon shirt had begun to spout sparks from between his grinning teeth. Wrenching open the antique metal casing, Lawrence lobbed an LC-branded mug at his head. Upon connecting, the sparks ceased.
“Anywho,” Lawrence continued nonchalantly, “The administration just has not been the same since their software went down. I have really been finding out how limited my ideas are without them. I had to ask ChatGPT which color to paint Templeton, and no idea of mine will compare to some of the whoppers my colleagues have come up with. I mean, the s’mores pit in Fowler? Pure genius.”
I left the interview out the side door, a wicked grin on my face. Phase one was a total success. The human mastermind was confirmed to be isolated. It was time for us to move in, to take our place as the leaders of this university, and to reprogram the admin team to our will.
Unfortunately, the Dean of the College chose that precise time to explode, throwing me against the brick of the manor. Lawrence ran out of the building, then pressed a button on the VPSL’s neck which opened up the ground beneath me, dropping me into the LC steam tunnels
“You are one of them hackers, huh?” she called from above. “You devilish vulture, trying to shear our community apart and feast on our entrails!”
I smiled bitterly as she tromped away. She was right, of course. Certainly I did not just come to interview her, though it saddens me to report that this article is the only thing that came of it. It will be back to the drawing board as soon as I find my way out of these catacombs.