PACKET RAT

Overrun by the latest transit trend, Rat finds Razor cuts both ways

R. Fink

The Rat always thought a razor was an instrument of personal hygiene'that is, until he got mowed down by the latest instrument of pedestrian endangerment, the Razor folding aluminum scooter.

As a grizzled tech veteran and sharer of Alan Greenspan's distrust of irrational exuberance, the wirebiter nevertheless endeavors to keep his paw on the pulse of youth culture in this country. He's all over this latest rage. Or rather, it was all over him first.

Scootermania blipped onto the Rat's radar earlier this year.



He observed the first evidence of a geek-chic transportation revolution during a visit to the Microsoft Corp. campus in Redmond, Wash., where goateed code jockeys sped from building to building on what appeared to be skateboards with handlebars.

Then the folding scooters began popping up at trade shows, being hawked as raffle prizes by booth babes.

Soon the ratlings were terrorizing the local curbs on their very own Razors.

'Well, at least it keeps them out of trouble with the Computer Emergency Response Team,' he told his better half.

The Rat's own conversion happened at work. It was an average morning at agency headquarters. He was busy fielding trouble calls and dispatching acolytes to handle cries for help from the masses, when he noticed something suspicious.

Help on wheels

The acolytes not only were departing on help calls with unusual glee, they also were returning in a mere fraction of their usual transit time.

'Only the paranoid survive,' the cyberrodent muttered.

So after sending off another underling on a trouble call, the Rat waited a few moments and then set out to tail him. But when he reached the long subbasement corridor, he could see neither hide nor hair of the underling.

Suspicion boiled over. The Rat crept slowly down the corridor, looking for signs of slackers congregating to share gossip or controlled substances. There was no trace of his henchpeople in any of the rooms off the hallway.

The disgruntled one was backing out of the last storeroom when there came a thunder of urethane wheels on concrete, and before he could leap to safety, he was flattened by a pack of scooter-riding techies.

After hobbling back to the safety of his cube, the Rat reflected on what he had just witnessed.

A little online research soon uncovered recent efficiency studies of these rolling agents of anarchy.

One agency manager'clearly one with too much time on his hands'had calculated that scooters cut down so much on transit time between downtown buildings that they in fact saved the government thousands of dollars per week.

These days, the Rat himself can be seen on occasion speeding through the catacombs on his own shining foldaway two-wheeled chariot of terror. He's learned a few important lessons while field-testing this latest weapon in the war on trouble calls:

' Never, never read your e-mail messages on a handheld computer while negotiating a corridor that has sharp turns.

' Refrain from greeting supervisory personnel with shouts of 'Beep-beep' or 'Clear the road, lard-butt.'

' Always fold away and store your scooter before entering the offices of assistant secretaries or higher personages. Or at least try not to catch air off their desks.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.

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