If Mr.Boyd hadn’t been a perfect bastard, Sally would never have had a close encounter of the third kind.

No, wait, we’re telling it all wrong.

If Sally hadn’t dropped her keys right in front of her door, she’d never have seen the giant green spiders.

Of course, the reason that Sally dropped her keys is that she was practically sleep walking, and honestly shouldn’t have been driving. And that was because Mr. Boyd was a bastard who kept trying to make his programmers deliver on what the sales people had over-promised the clients of his computer company.

In fact, as Sally walked down the hallways of her dingy apartment house, she’d been muttering to herself “Midnight code? We should be so lucky. At Boyd’s and Boyd’s we write four am code. And then get up two hours later and spend most of the next day undoing the mistakes we made while half asleep.” She was so sleepy she didn’t get into the mystery of why the firm had an extra “and Boyd’s.” As far as she could tell Mr. Boyd had no family and had never been married. But she supposed it was entirely possible Boyds reproduced by fission.

And then, blessedly, her apartment door ws in front of her, and she reached for the keys from her purse….

Perhaps it was some movement in the shadows of the dark hallway. She’d never know. But she dropped the keys and bent to pick them up. And saw the two giant green spiders hiding around the corner of the hallway looking at her.

Okay, so she couldn’t see any eyes, but she knew — just knew — they were looking at her, and sort of jiggling in anticipation, like kids who have set up a prank and are waiting for you to fall for it.

And then she was running, screaming, down the hallway and towards the door of the building.

Which is when she collided with a large, dark male. Though at the time she didn’t know he was a large dark male, or in fact even human. She thought in fact he was a spider.

“Ow,” Craig said when hit on the head with Sally’s shoe. Fortunately women no longer wore high heels to work, but the tennis shoes stung when it smacked across his face.

Which is when Sally realized Craig — though she didn’t know he was Craig — must be human, because she couldn’t imagine a spider saying “Ow.” Well, Sally wasn’t a particularly imaginative kind, even if she was a very good coder.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “There were giant green spiders at my door.”

Instead of recommending a good alcoholism-prevention program, Craig shuddered. “At my door too. And they were holding ray guns.”

Sally blinked. We said she didn’t have much imagination, remember? “The spiders were holding ray guns?”

Craig rubbed at his eyes. “Hell, I think so, but I’m not even sure. You see, my boss, Mr. Banderas, is a perfect bastard, and he keeps promising code that can’t be delivered in the time he gives. And then he works us until we deliver it anyway. I don’t think I’ve slept eight hours in the last ten days. Cumulative.”

And Sally laughed because she rarely met a guy who even knew the word cumulative. Particularly since it seemed she spent her life writing midnight code. “You live here? In the building?” she asked.

And sitting on the floor of the dingy apartment house, Craig realized that Sally was really very pretty despite the dark rings around her blue eyes, which matched her glossy dark hair. “Yeah,” he said. “It’s weird we never met. But I blame it on Mr. Banderas.”

“No. Some of the guilt must go to Mr. Boyd,” Sally said. “Trust me on this. Your Mr. Banderas can’t be worse than Boyd. He’s a perfect bastard. I mean, he calls his firm Boyd’s and Boyd’s but there’s no indication there is another Boyd. Possibly in the whole world.” She allowed Craig to help her rise, and leaned on him while she put her shoe on.

When they went back to her door, there were no spiders visible.

They said goodbye at the door with smiles, because this is not that kind of story. But the next night, when Sally came stumbling in at 4 am, Craig was also stumbling in at 4am. It was none of Sally’s business that he’d been lurking in his car for half an hour so they could stumble in together.

And after a few early mornings of stumbling in together, Sally had said “We have to stop meeting like this and go out for dinner or something” which was very bold of her, since she had never even had a date.

And Craig said, “Let’s do it.” Which was very bold of him, since he’d once thought the best solution to romance would be to write himself a girlfriend program. Only he couldn’t ever get the AI right. The technology was just not there yet.

But anyway, their first afternoon off, after two weeks, they went to the zoo, and then out to dinner in this tiny, quaint Greek diner.

After a few more of those afternoons — and a glorious evening — they started looking for different jobs, where the managers might be slightly less bastard-like. Or at least, perhaps, imperfect bastards.

As it happened Craig found a job paying double what he’d made at Mr. Bandera’s. Which allowed him to ask Sally whether she wanted to marry him and perhaps have beautiful kids who’d be perfect coders.

She said yes, of course. She was socially awkward. Not stupid.

On her wedding day, while her mother told her how unlikely it all was, she thought, “And mom doesn’t know the half of it.” Since she’d never told mom about the green spiders.

In a bar across the galaxy, amid many other strange life forms, there is a table around which several green spiders sit, drinking something pink and foaming from little steins.

And frankly, if you can’t picture that, your imagination is as bad as Sally’s and we can only hope you’re as good a coder.

“Mike,” one of the spiders says to the other in spider language. (And if you can’t imagine either a spider language, or a spider named Mike. We’re sorry for you. After all, phonetically — mīk — is a very easy sound to make, and why shouldn’t a spider be named that?) “We’re going to be so rich. This Mating Human Geeks Program is a hit.”

Mike hoisted his glass of beer and nodded. “Isn’t it weird they never search their apartments of the cameras we hid earlier?”

“Nah,” the spider named Bob — what you’re going to have problems with a spider named Bob, really. Phonetically ˈbäb is even easier than Mike — who was the camera man of the group said. “I’m very good at hiding the cameras.”

“And guys, this is not just curiosity,” the Spider named Uotty’rq (are you happy now.) said. “Without us contriving it, it is possible most Human Geeks would never meet. And they’re a beautiful subspecies, well worth preserving.

147 thoughts on “Arachnophilia

  1. It was none of Sally’s business that he’d been lurking in his car for half an hour so they could stumble in together.

    So CUTE!

    1. And that is quite literally a geek guy thing that geek guys do. Sometimes even more contrived than that. Because when he finds the right one, a geek guy without a wiki has to… make plans. Which are almost never ordinary.

      1. Girls, too.

        I found lots of reasons to happen to walk through the galley when I was “happening” to eat lunch the same time that my half-elf did. 😀

        1. When I was a computer tech, I heard that a co-worker’s wife’s computer kept giving her trouble, until he got the hint. My army’s buddy’s wife used to wash *my* dishes because we shared a bathroom. I bought them a salad plate in their day-to-day china for a wedding present; a few years later they drove six hundred miles to come to my wedding, while she was adorably pregnant.

        1. I believe it is. Having been best friends with an insufferably handsome and somewhat normal guy who never did anything of the sort, I was the one contriving reasons to be present when the girl I liked was around, planning conversation topics, and so on. Normies seem to come by that sort of thing naturally.

          I could be wrong, though.

        1. Because they’re short shorts. if you don’t rely on stereotypes and tropes, you have to explain WAY more.
          For the same reason, jokes (and this one has a ton embedded) HAVE to rely on stereotypes and tropes. Because if you do a completely original setting, and neither play to nor defy the expectations, people won’t get what’s funny.

  2. It is good that this was spiders. While spiders are mostly killed, I will occasionally put one outside.

    Centipedes on the other hand are destroy on sight. Too many legs.

    too many legs….

    1. I don’t mind spiders myself as long as they’re not poisonous, oversized, or crawling on my face. The latter transgressions will inevitably result in forceful removal to the outer wastes of nonexistence.

        1. We’ve got an invasive species down here, the huntsman spiders, that are about the size of an adult’s hand; out of the corner of your eye, they register as kittens or small dogs because they’re big enough that you can see the separate reflections of light on their eyes.

          They are alarming to have in the house so I prefer them outside, but they eat roaches. *thumbs up*

          1. mcahogarth could you please provide me with then general part of the world where you are? I don’t travel much but I most assuredly want nothing to do with wherever you are (or wherever that invasive species came from).

              1. I should have known, Australia, the land of bizarre animals and strange poisonous creatures that can kill you. Makes you wonder if the dropbear isn’t real…

                1. Yep… Whenever you read “…I most assuredly want nothing to do with wherever you are (or wherever that invasive species came from)”, dollars to donuts it’s Oz.

            1. lol 😀

              I’m in sunny Florida! We have (limited, but better than nothing) freedom here! It’s worth the spiders!

              1. A chacun son gout. You may keep those creatures. At least they’ll have plenty of food, as far as I can tell the palmetto bugs that live in palm trees are just Giant Economy size cockroaches so an excellent food source.

              2. Either I’m oblivious, or those haven’t made it to the Orlando area yet, but definitely sounds like a good reason to look into stocking some bird-shot for the 12ga. (I don’t hunt birds, so I don’t usually stock it.) What? 12ga too much gun for spiders the size of Yugos? Oh wait… kittens… she said kittens… Nope… 12ga it is! 😀

                1. I don’t know, that sounds like it would create more mess than you want, lol 😀

              3. Wait, there are Huntsman spiders on the east coast of North America?!! Yikes!!! Time to dust off the jettison California plan and adopt it.

              1. The spiders don’t bother me. The roaches the size of SmartCars, on the other hand…

                  1. You just need to be in the northern part. The lizards here are those small tree lizards (and the occasional feral gecko), and the gators don’t live near me (no big enough lakes). Also, we get seasons, but not so much that you get sick of them.

                    Other than summer. You’ll get sick of summer.

                  2. My poor mom hated lizards, snakes and bugs. So we moved to Florida. She got to liking the lizards once she realized they ate bugs (and the tiny baby chameleons were cute), and she got sort of tolerant about snakes, but the palmetto bugs….
                    I remember her doing the flamenco with a broom, going after low-flying palmetto bugs.

                    1. Palmetto bugs are just a fact of life down here in Florida. if you live down here, occasionally one WILL get into your house. Rich, poor, clean-every-single-day, or complete slob, there is no way around it. You will occasionally have to deal with a Palmetto bug. Back when I had long hippie hair, I lived in a rather run-down place, so lots of entry points for Palmetto bugs. Let me tell you, waking up to a Palmetto bug landing in your hair and getting tangled up is probably one of the RUDEST wakeups EVER.

                    1. If I needed to shoot a gator, I would NOT use a .223. Either a .308 or 12 guage slugs to convince the critter that yes, it really is dead so stop trying to eat me.

                    2. Years ago I worked for a company that moved to a facility built just outside of town (Orlando Florida). So, the place was practically surrounded by swampland. One day, doing my usual tech guru stuff, I heard the receptionist scream bloody murder. I shook my head. “Sigh… another snake” I thought. NOPE. Gator big enough to make that fence climber look like a puppy, and it was actively TRYING to get into the building.

                      I ran over and locked the door. Hey, you do what you can.

                      We called a licensed gator guy (huge fines if you try to deal with them yourself). When the gator guy got there a few hours later than expected, he and his (guessing) 8 year old sun jumped out of the truck and asked where the gator was. We we told them the gator had wandered off about a half hour before and pointed at where the thing got under the fence. The kid, physically about the size of “our” gator’s head, yelled “I’ll go get him!” shimmied under the fence, and ran off into the swamp.

                      “Don’t worry about him, he’s been around gators all his life.” Gator guy dad said… I worried anyway.

                      Turns out, the reason they were late is they picked up gator on the way that was almost equal in size to the one we called about, and on the way to our place the darn thing woke up in the bed of his little truck (one of the little Nissans if I remember right) and put the truck in the ditch, almost tipping it over trying to get out. He showed it to us. No idea how he managed to get that thing squished in there like that, or where he would put “our” gator if he caught him (assuming him… could be a her)

                      A while later the kid re-emerged and told his Dad that there was a whole mess of gators out there and no way to tell which was the one that was the threat.

                      I’m like… “All of them?”

                      (Note, I hadn’t lived in Florida long at that time. Much less concerned with gators now.)

                  3. Grew up in Florida. Camping, fishing, sailing, diving, all wonderful. Bugs OMG not gonna lie I hate bugs. Described them to my kids, do not think they believe me. Gotta love when the cock roaches fly into the house when you open the damn door. Never living there again!

                    Besides that, the story was a delightful little romp. Thank you, made a horrible day a good one!

              2. My uncle used to catch those hand-sized black and yellow garden spiders and encourage them to build webs in the corners of the cow barn. The spiders got good and fat but they never made a noticeable dent in the fly population.

            1. We chased it outside. Fortunately it was the only one we’ve had in the house so far. (The water moccasin that crawled up our drain into the bathtub was a lot more trouble.)

            2. Just don’t pay any attention to the camel spider lurking just out of sight behind you.

          2. Okay, if I may ask, where (vaguely speaking) is “down here”? because if I ever do move, it will NOT be anywhere that has oversize spiders or any size of cockroaches. Had to deal with too many roaches in my life.

        2. neilthelesser said “Tarantulas are kinda cute”

          Umm No, possibly even Hell No. Had a summer job long ago where one of my coworkers had a very odd girlfriend who had a pet tarantula. While I was busily working at the frylator and stove they set it behind me on a table. What they dead not realize is that I have a severe case of arachnophobia. I turned to see said noghtmare and had a spare frying pan in my hand so fast they almost didn’t manage to stop me from smashing the darn thing.

          1. I once had a direct report that road-raced bicycles, and when the weather allowed he commuted on back roads up and over the Diablo range to work.

            In the springtime up there the tarantulas wake up and go looking for a good time, and when the weather warms up sufficiently rapidly they do so all at once, swarming in sheets of furry legs across the paved roads.

            My report reported it was not possible to avoid squishing them when at speed, but they were not that difficult to clean off the bike.

            Spiders don’t bug me, and I’m generally up for capture-and-release if it’s not too cold out, but that mental image of the road covered in furry legs in sets of eight all heading thataway in unison has been with me for the many years hence.

            1. Jacksonville, FL is a port city in a subtropical climate, so they get imports. I remember my dad’s story about how his workers got very nervous about a giant spider. Eventually, somebody killed the darn thing.

              Its legs hung over a dinner plate. Giant spider, indeed!

            2. Crazy one-eyed uncle discovered “tarantula migration” on a motorcycle in Nevada.

              I think he was STILL screaming, and driving with his eyes shut, by the time he made it to Lake County Oregon.

              1. I once rode through a swarm of bees at about 70. That was messy. Bee guts everywhere.

                “What are those black dots up ahead? OH SHIT BEES!” Sput-sput-sput-sput…

                  1. Old son would probably have gone off the road to avoid them.
                    The first time DIL saw him: pull over, open all doors, scream and wait for bee to leave the car was an education.
                    She still married him.
                    He’s SERIOUSLY phobic.

                    1. He’s SERIOUSLY phobic sane.


                      Ok maybe not the screaming under “sanity”, but the bee goes where it wishes to go. Or Else.

                      She still married him.


            3. Wonderful, Tarantulas headed for a tarantula orgy (or at least a tarantula disco). The things you see when you don’t have a flamethrower…

            4. I hope your bike had fenders…
              The vision of the ‘skunk stripe’ of spider guts up your back… shudder…

          2. The one experience that convinced me that teleportation is possible is when a tarantula ran over my face when I was half asleep. There is NO FRICKING WAY that I went from prone to vertical a good twenty feet away!

      1. I’m a light sleeper… one day was taking a nap. Dreamed that a spider was building a web attached to my face. Woke up and discovered that some stupid spider had affixed a guy line from the ceiling to my nose!!

        (Gulliver’s Spiders??)

      2. We had a large orb spider set up shop over one of the kitchen windows year before last. We considered her almost a pet (and very useful since we have had bug problems) as well as a quite attractive spider and were very sad when the inevitable end-of-year spider die-off occurred. Sadly, none of her babies stuck around.

        1. Yeah I used to go to a cabin in Maine with my best friend when we were late junior high/high school. One year there was an immense orb spider making admittedly gorgeous webs in one of the exterior windows of the cabin. Unsurprisingly we were Lord Of The Rings fans (geeks dont you know). We referred to her as Shelob all summer making his dad chuckle and threaten to feed me to her as in build I made a good representation of a hobbit in those days.

          1. There are spiders who like to weave webs over my front steps from side to side. . . .

            I use that door.

            1. Like the Gary Larson cartoon? Two spiders spun a web across the bottom of a playground slide.

              “If we pull this off, we’ll eat like kings!”

    2. The little black house spiders are actually adapted to living indoors (for about 5000 years now, per one researcher) and will die if pitched outdoors. And remember, they wouldn’t live indoors if there wasn’t plenty to eat… makes you wonder about what other bugs you don’t see, eh??

      Those I don’t mind, but seriously, does EVERY long-legger in the neighborhood have to camp on my ceiling??

      1. I only complained about spiders when they were over the bath while I was in it, and we had a cat who loved catching and eating them. It could lead to some very … splashy … and pointy … bathing.

        1. I had one of those cats. Used to find spider legs in the bathtub all the time.

          1. We learned to pick her up and hold her so she could get them off the walls near the ceiling *before* running the bath. It made everyone much happier. She had snacks, and we didn’t have splashing pointy things in the bath.

      2. It’s part of the reason I’m not too aggressive with the spiders that make their home in my home.
        And a couple glue traps in strategic locations keep their numbers down to acceptable levels.

        Of course, it doesn’t help if the indoor populations don’t get new blood often enough – there was a while that every other spider I saw only had seven legs. I’m not sure if it was bad moults, partially successful cannibalism, or inbreeding.

        1. Or predation by something else. When I lived in the desert, I’d let the wind scorpions (Solifugae) come indoors, because that kept the black widows down to only in dark corners rather than inside every crevice, chair, and boot. Would often see long-leggers short a leg or two, probably from narrow escapes.

          Also got big wolf spiders in the house. One day happened to see a wolf spider and a wind scorpion stalking one another… looked evenly matched, but when they grappled the wolf spider quickly got the upper hand.

          Wolf spiders have good vision, and apparently can recognize people at a distance of about 3 feet. For a year or so I kept one as a pet. It lived in a big jar, and it quickly learned that I brought it grasshoppers (which it would eat completely within a few minutes, leaving behind nothing but the legs). And it could tell me from my tenant, and whether I was bringing it dinner — when I had a grasshopper, it would get all excited and run round and round in its jar. Conversely it would just stare at my tenant, and give me a merely cursory look if I wasn’t carrying lunch.

          Wolf spider eyes….

    3. Assassin bugs. No bigger than a box elder bug, but middling-aggressive and that proboscis makes a painful hole. Made my kill-on-sight list.

      [To be fair, that’s taken at 100x.]

  3. I’m reminded strongly here of the writing style of the famed R.A. Lafferty. 🙂

  4. Now that we have this world, the next short needs to be two generations in the future to see what the Green Spiders achieved with their breeding program. I suspect the results may surprise them – breeding nerds may prove dangerous to the health of aliens.

  5. Why are most bosses “perfect bastards”? There are a rare few who are not, but they are far outnumbered by those who are.

    1. I suspect there are more that have not reached the level of “pure bastards” but still working to reach the “pure” aspect of bastard-hood. 😈

    2. It helps if one’s boss is in another city or even country. My current boss is in Chicago; the previous one was in Moscow (and I’ve been in Denver the entire time).

      1. Yes, I concur. While not as distant as either Chicago OR Moscow, my former employer was in a different city and was a very hands-off manager. As long as the work was done and the clients happy, we were golden 🙂

  6. Hehehe. Very cute. Very apropos to this group. I have a son who could use the services of those aliens… they should advertise 🙂

    1. I have a son that could use the “Spider Dating” service too. His cousins have all done the dating apps, well all the girls, anyway. Only one found her significant other off-line (buying her car after her divorce). Don’t know which app/program.

  7. Not sure how Sally’s shoe hit Craig in the face, but Sarah’s characters are very talented. 😆

          1. I’ve seen it (fortunately not the target). Actually, the story rings true – some of the things that I have seen between the hours of 04:00 and 05:00 while on a coding death march would put Mike, Bob, and what’s-his-name to shame.

            I also did know one quite excellent coder who did wear high heels. Rather odd, as she was already quite tall – those put her at 6′ 3″ or so. Perhaps she had the habit from a need to intimidate lecherous Russian bosses when she started working in Ukraine?

      1. Ah, after she bumped into him.

        For some reason, I had this picture of her bumping into him and falling such that her feet were at his head.

        Not enough coffee. 😉

  8. Thing is, the covert sensing problem isn’t as bad as the other spiders think.

    Giant green spiders obviously do not have the same sensory organs that humans do.

    Human sensors like their video cameras, microphones, etc. are explicitly designed to be interpreted via human sensory organs. So the lenses on the camera, the sensor that the lenses focus the light onto, etc. are designed by human known engineering principles to be meaningful to human understanding.

    Very few human geeks are so concerned about being spied on by aliens that they deduce the principles of inhuman sensor engineering, and search for sensors that are not being used by human beings.

    For example, they have no real grasp of vibration privacy.

    1. or emfazing (emphasing? emfoling?) via antennae. Now if I could only remember the book; the insect species from the Flinx books, perhaps?

      1. I think emfoozing is from the Palainians from Palain VII. My fellow L2 Nadreck is of that species. Also Dextribopping. None of the other Lensman can figure out what the heck the Palainians are doing either, its just something beyond the ken of those of us that live above 5 degrees kelvin…

          1. Nadreck won’t say if it is related to reproduction or not… Hard to tell as palainians don’t blush (nor do Rigellians for that matter).

      2. Emfol is from Midworld by Alan Dean Foster. It refers to the empathic link the Furcots and Midworld-adapted humans share with the trees, which turn out to be much more than they seem.

        So, right author, but nothing to do with the Thranx.

  9. First flower of spring today, bloomed through the last of the melting snow. Rejoice.

    1. Daffydills are almost done here – the first I saw was a couple of weeks back.

    2. Ah…. what bloomed? no flowies yet but I’ve got tulips, surprise lily, and daffodils a hand high, and the grape hyacinth never entirely die back, tho the crocus and regular hyacinths are as yet nowhere to be seen. Had dutch iris and mini iris poke up in January, got surprised into retreat end of Feb. when we got our second winter.

      Tulips here are like weeds, they grow in random spots around the yard (clearly where no one would have planted them), and there’s a feral patch escaped from old flowerbed into lawn that doesn’t bloom, but keeps expanding. BTW for those with crappy soil… I grew monster tulips in the desert with blooms the size of coffee mugs, with little to no care (and not much water).

      WTF flowers: brought some California poppy seeds north. Apparently in Montana they are a hardy perennial… had some bloom in November, after it had been well below zero, and they start sticking up from existing roots as soon as the snow can be shoved aside. So much for the official contention that the many lineages are all intimately adapted to their home ground, and should never be planted elsewhere.

      1. Crocuses here. First one today. I’ll have flowers in bloom through November.

        if our hostess is interested. Porto just advanced in the European Cup versus Juventus. One of the wildest matches I’ve seen in a long time.

        1. Cool. I usually get crocuses up first, but might be they got confused since we had spring in January, then winter two weeks ago.

          All sorts of random bulbs coming up in the strawberry bed, since that’s where they got temporarily put last year… the strawberries don’t seem to mind….

    3. Nothing’s blooming yet here, and we’ve probably lost 50-75% of the roses from the -11 F cold snap after it was so warm. *shrugs* Gardening in the high desert.

  10. Lovely story dear Hostess. Reminds me vaguely of how my wife and I met and our penchant for a little Greek restaurant in Worcester. Hey wait a minute, I suspect there is dirty work afoot here, Eight feet and they’re green. Although kind of glad for their breeding program…

  11. Yep, if it ever happens, it’ll have to take something like aliens getting involved. 😛

    1. I had a Dear Little Old Lady at my place of worship trying to match me up with her grandson. Who is 20+ years younger than I am. She did not realize that. It was . . . a delicate dance of “no thank you,” because she really, truly meant well. He was also dating someone at the time, and she didn’t realize it (the couple where discreet, because of potential job complications.)

      1. Heh. I met my wife at ceramics class, mostly populated by ladies from her church. The first night I was there; she wasn’t so they all said “Oh, you have to meet [her]. She’s so sweet.” She was; and gorgeous in her zaftig way.

          1. Well, I had to look it up when I met the word; I think it was “Brothers in Arms” or “Mirror Dance.” The one on earth.

            1. That would be ‘Mirror Dance’ where Miles and not-Miles first met on Old Earth. ‘Brothers In Arms’ was much later, when Mark hijacked the Dendarii to rescue clones from Jackson’s Whole.

  12. You do understand that the person you need to illustrate this story is Phil Foglio? He is so very good at illustrating scary and cute and funny at the same time.

    1. Unfortunately, unless something has changed, the Foglios would be unlikely to be willing to interact with the white mormon male who has a great rack.
      Back when folks were trying to cancel Orson Scott Card for being a Mormon, the Mrs. stated that anybody who was a ‘bigot’ should be shunned.
      I remember because I was a huge fan of Girl Genius at the time– the sheer hypocrisy just killed any enjoyment.

  13. “Bows? Arrows?” the lady half-laughs at me over a cup of coffee. “It’s all about the algorithm, arranging meet-cutes, and setting up sideways-events. Like, watch over there…”

    Her finger tracks to a man reaching for a cup of Starbucks’ “Finest” and the woman he runs into almost causes him to spill it all over them both. He apologizes, then asks her about the magazine in her hands-I can’t see from here-and she answers it and offers to share a table with him.

    “I mean, I do still have the old tools handy. Sometimes,” and her grin is wicked, “you need to go really old-school on some people.”

  14. I’m not particularly fond of spiders but if their success rate is that good; sign me up.

  15. Neat-o!
    It also reminds me of Tom Digby’s story about the FFI, or Future Friend Indicator. People started acquiring these gadgets (Nowadays it would be an app) that would alert you when someone was nearby who might be a possible friend.
    After people had gotten used to the device reliably pointing out worthwhile friends, the aliens who were providing the devices started adjusting the parameters so people would befriend people who were different from them, undermining innate xenophobia.
    I imagine a FFI app could be programmed to connect Human Geeks to each other.

    1. *Considers how she got here because somebody went “hey, this person wrote something cool, go read” and there’s several folks she met by similar, “hey, talk to this person without having to TALK to them, by reading a blog post” who are also here, and elsewhere*

      I think they’re called “blogs”……

  16. When I worked as a controls engineer for Owens-Illinois, the Lakeland Florida bottle plant had a wastebasket full of brooms at every exterior door. You were supposed to grab a broom every time you went outside to keep the alligators away as you made your way between buildings.

    Once they had a problem with intermittent faults on one of their batch scales (where they weighed the stuff that went into the glass furnaces) and no one could figure it out. It turned out that several times a day an alligator would climb in through a window, run across the building and exit out a door on the other side. I don’t know if anyone would have noticed it he hadn’t been running across the scales’ platform and triggering the fault as it bounced.

    Or until he had eaten someone since they wouldn’t have a broom to fend him off while they were inside the building.

    I always wondered how effective a broom would be as alligator defense. I never needed one, luckily.

  17. Nice story! And wonder of wonders the comment are even enjoyable.
    Peoples reactions to bugs appear to be highly variable. I always find comments about Palmetto bugs (1.2 to 1.6 inch) interesting because I spent years in Arizona where 3 to 3.5 inch long Paloverde root borer beetles (Derobrachus germinatus) emerge from the ground every few years to infest the landscape. Of course a bunch of large beetles is nothing compared to a major cicada swarm where the ground is carpeted in bugs.

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