Meet Victor Barnacle
The woman kept scanning the organization chart, looking for a vacant slot. There had to be something the little man could do. Scribe? Wig weaver? Sconce scrubber? At least he was a Type A personality; she could definitely count on him for relentless persistence.
It was cold that morning in 1820, and a fog was beginning to descend upon the castle when Queen Victoria pulled on a velvet cord and summoned Victor Barnacle to the courtyard below. Victor tugged his waistcoat down over his bulging stomach and peered up into the mist.
"You pulled, my queen?"
"Vic, I've got a job for you," the queen said, gazing out over her queendom.
"Go thee into the land and tell the masses to pen their memos and things in a matter befitting my supreme greatness. You know, ornate and flowery. I want to be remembered."
"What?" Victor replied.
"Get a bunch of quill pens and be off with you!"
Victor bowed away, loaded his cart with 400,000 quill pens, and whipped his donkey into the hither and over the yon, handing out pens to lords, surfs, masters, slaves , and entry level administrators.
"Here, write like the queen! " he shouted. "Don't say THE CARRIAGE WHEEL BOLTS ARE WORN OUT...Say IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE WEARING OF THE CARRIAGE WHEEL BOLTS HAS REACHED A MAXIMUM LEVEL."
From clothier to comptroller to banker to bard, the dauntless pair plodded on through storm and sludge, month after month, year after year, stopping only to requisition more quill pens. Like Paul Revere, like Johnny Appleseed, Victor Barnacle had become one with his mission. CAST OUT CLARITY! DIP THY PEN IN THE ORNATE! SCRIBBLE THE FLOWERY! It was the winter of his content, but all that travel was just too exhausting. In his final hour, the darkness descending, he was still urging his donkey onward.
Like all spirits with missions unfinished, Victor's refused to cross over. Even now, his portly specter pushes on, clinging to a time and expression long in the bygone. His voice is still among us, ageless in its obsession, still coaxing, still commanding: "Don't say THE SOFTWARE IS INCOMPATIBLE...Say IT CAN BE SEEN THAT A SOFTWARE INCOMPATIBILITY IS PRESENTLY IN EFFECT."
Today, 170 years after Victor went forth for the queen, we still hear the sound of quill pens scratching. We still see letters and emails that begin with HEREWITH. Don't look now, but there's a long-eared ghost in visitor parking.