The Austrian connection

Photo of Ars Electronica Center window with reflection by Credit: Ars Electronica - Robert Bauernhansl

Photo Credit: Ars Electronica – Robert Bauernhansl

9.  The Austrian connection

By Andrew Nash

Read earlier episodes: 1. Vienna Woods

Free at last Franz made his way towards Building “C” – although not without looking over his shoulder a couple times to make sure Ted wasn’t following him. Paranoid, maybe.

Entering the lobby, he turned left into a short hallway with staff locker rooms and a break room for contractors. He pushed open the parking garage stairway door and went down the stairs. Once in the garage, Franz made a quick 180 into an easy to overlook nook, knocked on an unmarked door and waited.

The door buzzed open. “You’re late.” said Pete appearing suddenly behind the counter. “They check our inventory every day and I really don’t want them to find anything missing on my watch!”

Pete Snyder was one of Franz’s first company friends. He’d messaged right after seeing Franz’s new hire write-up in the company blog. Pete had great memories of the semester abroad he spent at Ars Electronica in Linz. So he was excited to meet the new guy from Austria.

Pete offered to show Franz some of the great places still left in the Mission – the neighborhood was gentrifying so fast that even Pete, resident for all of 23-months, talked wishfully about the old days. It was only after a couple evenings out together that Pete mentioned security. His department handled all the typical tasks like passwords, authorizations, firewalls, and back-ups, but wasn’t above going on the offense when necessary.

Pete mostly did white hat work hacking the company’s security systems looking for vulnerabilities before the bad guys found them. But they all took turns monitoring the company’s security tech tools – which is why he was behind the counter this morning.

“Sorry Pete,” Franz said handing over the voice mod device. “Pam and I had a late dinner, and I missed the early bus.”

“OK, but be careful, you really don’t want these guys on your case!” counseled Pete before adding, “Hey, by the way, none of my business of course, but are you getting serious with her?”

“Well, we’re talking about moving in together, so I guess that means, yes.”

“Hmm. You know I asked her what she did a couple weeks ago when we all had dinner at Seven Stills. Her answer sounded as phony as the one I use. Is she in security too? You do know her company does security, right?”

“Yeah, I knew that,” Franz replied, “But Pam never wants to talk much about work. I’ve always thought that was healthy.”

“Sure, but, as we say in security, you should always know who you’re dealing, or in your case, sleeping, with.”

He hadn’t imagined Pam working security – she didn’t seem the type. And, of course, it hadn’t really mattered. But now he wondered. There’d been an awful lot of coincidences lately. Thinking it might be good to talk things over with someone who knew the business, Franz asked suddenly, “Hey, have time for a lunchtime run?”

“Sure. 12:30 by the volleyball court.” replied Pete as he turned away quickly, slid his ID over the door lock and entered the secure storage area.

Read on … Episode 10: Vienna calling

Andy Nash

December 22, 2021


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