It was a red alert. David had never seen a red alert before.
Everybody had leapt up from their computers, a wild thrill in their eyes. Some of David’s coworkers looked worried, terrified even. He suspected that some of them had never seen a red alert either.
People were running past his cubicle. They were rushing, charging, sprinting, down the hallway and towards the boss’s office. The employees bumped into each other, slamming and stumbling in their haste.
During David’s job training, they had only given him one instruction about a red alert. Report to the boss. They hadn’t explained what a red alert was. They had simply said to report to the boss. He hadn’t expected the flashing red lights, or the wailing siren, or the stampede throughout the entire office building.
As soon as David stepped out of his cubicle, somebody almost crashed into him. “Come on! Come on! Go, go, go!” a person was yelling across the room. The cubicles had mostly emptied. Though David wasn’t certain why, he didn’t want to be the last one out.
He had never been to the boss’s office. Strangely, he couldn’t even remember his boss’s name. Had he ever known? For the two months that he had worked here, David had always heard the boss referred to merely as “the boss”.
As he rushed down the hall, he realized with a sinking feeling that he had left his solitaire game up on the screen, for anybody to see. But there was no turning back now. The crowd of programmers and engineers was sweeping him away.
At the end of the hall, people were cramming into the boss’s door. David craned his neck to search for a nameplate on or near the door, but he couldn’t spot one. The crowd pushed him forward. He was getting squeezed into the office.
The boss’s office was three time’s the size that David had expected. It was clearly designed to contain the entire company’s set of employees, as it was doing now. They all stood in rows, waiting to hear the boss’s command.
The door closed behind them. The final employees had arrived. Slowly, the boss stood. He flicked a switch on a console that sat on his desk. The alarm turned off. For a moment, the office was in complete silence.
Then the boss announced. “There is a bug.”
The silence sustained. Everybody seemed afraid to speak.
The boss said loudly, “There is a bug! A bug in one of our apps!”
Across the room, small murmurs arose. Whispers, questions, accusations. Somebody had made a mistake in their programming. Whoever it was would be punished severely. That was clear to everyone.
The boss pressed another button on his console. A screen lowered behind him, and a projector turned on. David had seen this image a hundred times. It was their weather app. It was the most simple app that the company had produced, excluding the alarm clock.
The boss produced a long rod from somewhere behind his desk. He slammed it against the screen. “Does anybody see the problem? Who sees the problem!?” he roared.
The room held its breath. Then one employee raised a hand. Then three more. Half of the employees. David’s eyes widened, and then he too raised his hand.
“Now!” the boss barked. “Somebody tell me what the problem is!”
An employee in the front took a step forward. With a quivering voice, David heard, “The app says that it’s Saturday.”
“That’s right!” the boss screeched. “What happened to Friday? Somebody tell me where Friday went! Why doesn’t our app know what day it is!?”
Deep in the crowd, another employee suggested, “Maybe it was a problem with a leap year.”
“A problem with a leap year that didn’t come into effect until today?” the boss jabbed doubtfully. “I don’t think so! Who is responsible for this? Who!? Tell me!?”
This silence was the longest yet.
But then somebody spoke.
“It was Jason.”
All eyes turned to Jason, who was suddenly stumbling backwards. “It wasn’t me! It wasn’t!”
“I saw it!” another employee yelled. “He was monitoring the calendar today! He’s the only one who could have done it!”
“I’m sorry!” Jason squealed. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I must have clicked on something by accident! I didn’t mean to!”
The boss’s entire body was trembling with rage, his eyes bulging and his face red. “For four whole minutes now, our users have been checking our weather app and seeing the wrong day of the week! Do you know what you’ve done!? Do you have any idea what kind of trouble you’re in!?”
“No! No!” Jason wailed. He tried to run for the door, but the crowd held him back.
The boss marched up to Jason. “You’re finished,” he whispered.
What happened next, David couldn’t even believe.
He never saw Jason again.