Among my many jobs, one was writing tech manuals for a new super-duper online program to revolutionize how work gets done, in a place where it had been done in a most specific manner for about a hundred years, and target the manual to those who held both computers and reading in equal contempt.
This project I handled in concert with another writer. Both of us Lit majors.
My text was "dah-dah-dah -- Your're almost there -- dah-dah-dah -- you're doing fine -- dah-dah-dah -- You've got it!" And his was prose that went on for pages -- "If a red light blinks in the upper corner of your screen, this indicates a problem, but a problem that can be tackled if we consider the three probable solutions..." Mine was the more popular, and his the more accurate. So neither of us communicated anything of value.
In any case, we could finish our daily job in about an hour, so had time to kill. Which we spent quizzing one another on the first lines of literature.
"Ok, so who said this..."
Then the competition escalated to: what is the most recognizable first-line in English Literature? Something we didn't admit was that both of us scoured our book shelves; it made the next day interesting, attractive; a reason to get up in the morning.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged," he said.
Oh, that's good. Better than my, "Happy families are all alike..."
When the rubber hit the road, the shit hit the fan; in other words, when they flicked the switch on this new technical wonder -- our actual job, it was chaos. My stuff didn't work, and no one had read his. So the true techie wizard had to travel from San Francisco to San Diego and sort things out, personally.
Oh, well. We tried. And no one seemed to hold us accountable. So back to what mattered.
"The sun shone, having no alternative," he bid.
"Mother died yesterday," I countered.
To our credit, we never stooped to "Call me Ishmael."