The Infamous Laptop Incident

In July of 1996, I was sitting at my desk at The Internet Company when I heard some of the company higher-ups walking by on the other side of my cubicle wall. (Their names have been changed to protect the innocent…and the stupid.)
“This is a pretty good deal,” one remarked. “I can’t find a lower price.”
“What if they’re stolen?” the other one asked as they walked out the door.

It was a Friday. There was a company tradition to have a “happy hour” on Fridays at about 5:30. (Apparently nobody had better places to go and party on a Friday night.) As happy hour came around, the news spread…

Apparently the CEO of the company (who we’ll call “Marq”) got a call from someone claiming to be our UPS guy, “John”. He said he had a friend who worked at Lechmere in Woburn who had six laptop PC’s they were selling really cheap. Us being “The INTERNET Company”, he thought we might be interested. Marq had a tech guru look up some prices and they realized they were at least half the normal retail price. Marq set up a meeting with the UPS guy in the Lechmere parking lot.

Marq went with one of the founders, the tech guy, and the office manager up to Woburn to get the laptops. While the founder talked to the UPS guy on a cell phone, the office manager withdrew $3000 cash from her personal bank account. The Lechmere guy apologized that he had only four laptops left.

To make a long story short, they handed over the cash and the Lechmere guy gave them a receipt and went to get the laptops. The receipt was merely a typewritten piece of paper. The four Internet Company employees stood there in the Lechmere parking lot for a few minutes before they realized that the guy had $3000 cash and wasn’t coming back.

Upon returning, the vice president simply asked the office manager, “Is it true?”
“Yes. All of it. Whatever you’ve heard, it’s true.”

July 26, 1996

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