Fallen Men


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It was around 1999 or 2000. I was working as an engineer for a company that built tracking systems for vehicles. At that time, vehicle tracking was morphing from ground based antennas that triangulated the position of a vehicle into the grand Global Positioning (Satellite or System) (or GPS) system we have now.

The company wanted to come up with a name for their new project. Since I knew I lot about mythology and history, they sought my advice on supposed names for their new device that was to be installed on automobiles.

The conversation was held upstairs and there were four people involved in the conversation; The Head Engineer/Owner (THEO), Rob (that’s ME), and two nameless engineers (NE).

This was the conversation as best I can remember.

(THEO), “Rob, what do you think of ‘Spartacus’?”

(ME), “I wouldn’t use it.”

(THEO), “Why?”

(ME), “Because Spartacus lost. He lost to two Roman armies. And at the end, he was crucified.”

(THEO), “We were also thinking of ‘Czar’, the name of the rulers of Russia.”

(ME), “Not a good suggestion as he was deposed in 1917 and shot a short time later.”

(THEO), “How about ‘Icarus’? He was flying in the air. ” (Obviously this had to do something with us using satellites)

(ME), “I wouldn’t use that either.”

(THEO – crossing his arms), “Why not?”

(ME), “Icarus fell to the Earth when his wings melted. I wouldn’t want that name if I was flying a plane, and I probably wouldn’t want it if I was driving a car. Perhaps you were thinking of Daedalus?”

(THEO – now staring at me), “Mercury was the messenger of the gods. He also didn’t fall into the ocean. What do you think of him?”

(ME), “Poisonous.”

One of the nameless engineers now turned his head away from us, almost (but not quite), hiding his broad smile from us.

THEO thanked me and I departed. As I was walked down the stairs, I swear I heard laughter.

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