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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)

TITLE: Scenic Outlook
By Tim Pickl


“Just one more hour Maggie and we’ll be there!”

“YAY! I can’t wait, daddy.”

“Me too.”

“What’s that sign say, daddy?”

“It says, SCENIC OUTLOOK AHEAD, 1.3 miles.”

“What is a seen-ick out…luck?”

“Let’s stop, and I’ll show you. I need to quick check my work e-mail, anyway.”

I slowed down, much to the consternation of the impatient vacationers behind us, “Too bad, they’ll get over it!” I thought. Then I parked our small recreational vehicle in the scenic outlook.

“Wow, daddy…this is awesome.”

“Wait—don’t get out of the camper yet.”


“Because, princess…see there’s a dangerous drop off the cliff right there, and I don’t want you gettin’ hurt.”

“Ohhhkay. Can I take pictures with your EPhone?”

“Sure—turn on the radio, too. I need to quick log in on my work laptop and check my email.”

Maggie turned on the radio, and grabbed my cell and started playing with it.

On the economic side of the news: the national economy has been stagnant for nine straight quarters, but the President today said, “There is hope and we have a positive outlook for the rest of this fiscal year, and definitely into next year. Positive changes are coming.”

“Thank God I have a job…” I muttered to myself, pulling my laptop out of the black bag; opened it and noticed it was already running in power save mode. When I opened the lid, the login immediately appeared and I entered my password.

Microsoft Outlook was already running. I noticed there was a strong cell network signal and was able to get the laptop connected to the internet, then log into work’s virtual private network (VPN). I tried refreshing my email in Outlook, but it wasn’t responding.

“Smile, daddy!” Maggie snapped a picture of me.

“I love you, princess.”

“I love you too, daddy.”

Microsoft Outlook was still not responding. Just then, I remembered something my boss told me—there was a new feature they had installed on all of our computers. On the desktop, there is a shortcut simply labeled, Click here for Chat Support.

So, for the first time, I tried it. A small window popped up.

Welcome to Chat Support. A Helpdesk Agent will be with you shortly.

“I miss mommy.”

I just nodded my head. Since my wife passed away last summer from bone cancer, it was something I didn’t want to think about or expand upon.

We were on vacation.

“My nice vacation can really begin if I can get this stupid thing working. Come on—is this the helpless des—oh, there they are now.”

LUKE: Good day, Thomas.

THOMAS: Hello, my Outlook is not responding on this computer.

LUKE: Will the application open okay?

THOMAS: Yes, it was already opened. Then I connected to the VPN. I’m just trying to get my e-mail.

LUKE: Have you considered using the Webmail function available to you on the company’s website?

THOMAS: I have, and I don’t like it. I need to maintain all the email I have in my personal folders—offline—on my laptop.

LUKE: That is OK, I was just asking. What is Outlook doing now?

THOMAS: I just see the hour glass.

“Oh, look daddy! A deer! It’s walking right by us.”

I looked up from the laptop and gazed at the most graceful doe I have ever seen.

“I’ll take pictures.”

LUKE: Here’s what you should do: Do you know how to open Windows Task Manager?

THOMAS: Yes sir.

LUKE: Good. Open Task Manager, click on the Process tab (at the top), then sort the list presented by clicking on Image Name. Good so far?


LUKE: Now scroll down that list until you see Outlook.exe

THOMAS: I see it.

LUKE: Good. Now right-click Outlook.exe and choose End Process.

THOMAS: Did it—another window popped up. I clicked end process and it went away.

“Daddy – look…look!”

A fawn followed the doe across the Scenic Outlook’s grassy area; then disappeared in some trees.

LUKE: Is Outlook.exe gone now?

THOMAS: Yes sir.

LUKE: Open Microsoft Outlook again. Then click Send/Receive.

THOMAS: Launching…it’s thinking about it…

LUKE: Is it connecting?

THOMAS: Yes…and I’m getting my email now! Thank you.

LUKE: Thank you for contacting Chat Support. Have a positive outlook!

THOMAS: Have a positive outlook, too, Luke. “Positive outLuke.”

LUKE: Ha! Take Care.

After all that, there was nothing urgent I needed to handle for work.

I closed the laptop.

“Daddy, can we go to the water park, now, please?”

“Let’s roll!”

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This article has been read 679 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leola Ogle 06/09/11
Cute. Great take on this week's topic. Loved the dialogue! Good job! God bless!
Linda Goergen06/10/11
Well, this dialog certainly took me through a range of thoughts and emotions...and outlooks! LOL Great job!
Joe Moreland06/12/11
Great story. I kept waiting for something dramatic to happen or for you to try and hit us over the head with a "working while on vacation with my daughter" morale, but, you know what? When you didn't do either, and I looked back over the story, I felt it was complete, subtle and did such an excellent job of letting the situation play out.

This is one of the most well written stories i've read this week. Less is more is one of those lessons I really need to learn when it comes to writing. :)
Janice Fitzpatrick06/12/11
Cleverly worked theme. this piece left me wondering what will happen next, not so dramatic wise, but following the parent and child,while they spent time "together." Subtle hint wisely used. Good job!
Noel Mitaxa 06/13/11
I love the ironic contrast between the dad whose outlook is limited to his computer (a pun I fully appreciate) and his daughter who is having her outlook widened and deepened with every passing moment.
Well done.