Sure, we still get free tickets to all the shows like and Anne Murray. Of course, the record labels still send us complimentary CDs by Hot Hot Heat, Jason Mraz and Marilyn Manson. And we gotta admit, being on the gift list of major companies like Anheuser Busch and Seagram does have its advantages.

But there are times when the pressure of staying up-to-date with the schedules for Mariah Carey and Jay Farrar can seem a bit overwhelming, and the slightest deviance in routine might cause any one of us to reach for the first available Uzi and administer a little concert industry justice.

Take yesterday, for example. When we arrived at the campus we were ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work on the itineraries for “Weird Al” Yankovic and Anthrax. But little did we know that an unspeakable fate awaited our arrival. A situation so horrible, so catastrophic that, for a moment, we really thought this company had sung its final dot-com encore.

Our computers were down.

The empty, black screens that met us when we walked into our offices, combined with the absence of the reassuring grinding of our hard drives, was a spectacle that we had never before even dared to contemplate. The silence was unbearable, the stillness bordered on the obscene. Plus, the fax machines continued to spew out the routings for Def Leppard, Insane Clown Posse and Social Distortion. We were being buried alive in a sea of unprocessed tour dates. We thought we were goners.

We immediately jumped on the phones and called out to Bermuda, Tahiti, Bakersfield, and all other corners of the globe where our computer techs can usually be found enjoying their contracted five-day weekends. Meanwhile the mountain of tour dates for Yes and Steve Winwood continued to rise, setting a scenario not unlike Hollywood’s greatest disaster flicks. It was Titanic, The Poseidon Adventure and Glitter all rolled into one.

Finally, after countless calls and pages, we were able to locate our chief of IT, the remarkable half-human / half-Vulcan computer genius simply known as Ivan, who quickly solved the problem. You see, our custodians had tidied up the night before, and in their haste to vacuum all the blood stains that regularly accrue from a day’s work of entering dates for Teena Marie and Sam Brown, they accidentally knocked the extension cord loose from the socket. Upon solving the mystery, Ivan quickly faxed us 500 pages of schematic diagrams instructing us on how to reinsert the power plug into the electrical outlet. We were saved!

Needless to say, we’re still shaken from yesterday’s nightmare. Living on the edge for as long as we have has definitely taken its toll, and our stress counselors are urging that we take a vacation. But where can one go when one already works in the garden paradise known as Fresno, California?

Hmmm… They say Baghdad is nice this time of year.