My city job requires me to use office 365 to sign into my email. The migration to 365 happened about a year ago, I assume when it became cheaper to use the cloud based Microsoft apps. For those of you reading this that do not have to use this if your work does not set up their own page there was a login page where with stock photos of random people, usually on computers or doing something else that requires them like they are doing something professional and semi-important.
The first time I logged in, there were a few small thumbnail photos. I can’t remember exactly today how many there were but let’s just say it was five or six at the most. One of them happened to be a man that could have been anywhere between the ages of 28-48 sitting alone on some white wooden steps looking down at a tablet in his hands. He had greying temples and peppered grey facial hair, round glasses, and a jean jacket. It wasn’t clear exactly what he was doing on the tablet, but you could tell it was important, but that it was also fun and a little provocative but definitely well thought out and beautifully articulated. I saw him every day I logged into my city email, which was about 2-3 times a week. Each time I logged in I kept wondering, what’s he doing? Is he reviewing a spreadsheet? Finishing up some blueprints for an Eco-friendly design of a school that helps underprivileged kids? Maybe he’s using some sort of software to master his new independent folk album or signing up for a yoga retreat. Either way, the stories kept growing and growing.
I guess you could say I got attached to seeing this person weekly. It couldn’t have been too serious because I can’t tell you when he disappeared and the login screen changed to a large blue swirl of a nothing. I kept logging in to the drab city library news, but now without the joy of seeing my perfect mystery man. The blue nothing became my new reality and like a child with an old toy that they got tired of playing with, I just plain old moved on.
Until about a week ago, when Microsoft changed their log in screen, again. This time, it’s one long picture that takes up the top half of the screen. The main focus of the picture is a man, staring intently at a tablet, flanked by one woman on each side which is obviously present but not the focus as one only has half a face, and the other is nothing more than a tuft of blond hair over the back of a left shoulder. This man is about 28-38, dark features and dark hair. He is starting at a tablet while wearing a grey sweatshirt underneath a blazer (a fine mix of business game with sense of humor). Really though, he’s looking at the tablet with a purpose, like he kind of wants to make out with it, but he kind of wants to throw it across the room in a fit of anger. I can’t tell. Suddenly I turn to my co-worker and say.
“Why the fuck am I always so attracted to the men in these Microsoft login screens?”
This student worker, who is a 19 year old, very introverted male, looks at me like I’m insane then shrugs a little. I must explain myself. I tell him about the man with grey hair on the steps. I bring up the new login and explain further.
“See, it looks like they are just the best mix of all things. Like they have their own house, but it’s filled with old guitars, which it may also have an alkaline water system. Obviously there’s a big yard with some kind of running water and a garden he planted himself. He’s responsible, but edgy. Like he’s about five minutes late to the meeting, but you know he could walk into the boardroom and show those old white haired men who don’t care about anything but money a thing or two about how to humanely run a business and still profit. Or, like that he has just recovered his mommy wound and is ready to meet with a woman on a soul level and team up with her to make serious changes in the world, included but not limited to starting a family and raising a mindful child that can contribute to the future communities.”
He let me stop talking and looks at me blankly for a moment. I fear I’ve said too much.
“That’s oddly specific.” He says.
“Yeah I guess it is.” I respond, and stare out the giant windows at the front of the library for a moment before trying to get myself a bit out of the hole.
“But really these Microsoft people really know what they’re doing with these stock photos. How do they do it?”
I look over at him and he nods a little, then goes back to watching whatever YouTube video he has open on his laptop. With nothing exciting going on at the city, I log out of my email.