Thursday, June 17, 2010

Recess at Work Day

Blogger's Note: Today, June 17, is "Recess at Work Day." Designed to promote teamwork through anti-workplace exercise, I've written this poetic narrative to examine its primal subtext. "Recess" may mean "a suspension of business or procedure often for rest or relaxation," but it also means "a hidden, secret, secluded place." Combine the definitions, and this is the result.

Recess at Work Day

Historians still debate who first thought to solve the "too much loose paper" problem with a small piece of coiled metal. The title volleys between a British manufacturing company and an unassuming Norwegian lad, but since new evidence for either side hasn't surfaced in years, the origin of the paperclip has become a stationary argument.

Equally difficult to determine is when and where a clock-watching, paper-pushing desk jockey first looked at this little metal coil as just one link in a long chain binding him to a job he never wanted, in a system that demands cohesion. Historians speculate that when this man, in a homicidal bid to kill some time, unfurled this paperclip, he triggered a metaphysical unraveling of the Industrial Age itself, an era based squarely on twisted things.

Perhaps this transcendental devolution is why the man resorted to base survival instinct, as he used the raw materials at his disposal to create crude tools, like tying a rubber band to his newly straightened metal wire as a bow, and foraging Q-tips from the mouthwash samples in his vanity drawer as little arrows. Dosing a swab with hand sanitizer, the man struck his computer mouse against his tape dispenser until they sparked, igniting the Q-tip before he fired it into the air -- a signal flare, a beacon to see if he's not alone.

Like dim-eyed cavemen drawn to the first flame, cubiclemen slowly emerged from their dark folds of earth. Inspired by their coworker's innovation, they embraced their varied, primal roots, some as Olympians with discuses made of post-it notes, others as cowboys with stapler six shooters. Partitions were dismantled and reduced to their base elements. With old coffee grounds like wet sand, and coffeepot filters like plastic beach buckets, castles were molded and erected in effigy of Monday morning meetings -- a kingdom without peasants, without jesters, without agendas or scepters. Tribal dances brought hailstorms of little white dots from dark, pregnant clouds of three-hole punches. The drought was ended.

Before long, the tribe headed West, spreading like an interoffice memo, recruiting the payroll clan, the band of flesh-eaters in Accounts Payable, even the mythical molemen of the mailroom. They faced resistance from the bourgeoisie of the I.T. department. By then, they weren't even speaking the same language anymore. Before the firewalls were doused with leftovers from the break room refrigerator, somebody sent an e-prayer to the gods, but they were taking an early lunch.

The last known recording of cubicleman's plight infers the construction of a tower -- a Jacob's corporate ladder. They stacked copy machines upon one another, at an incline, then, shedding their suits like a snake's skin, they slid bare naked down the glass leaving a wake of flashing lights and collated rear portraits, like the birth of stars around a moon. Truly this is the only documented proof of cubicleman's devolution -- the evidence that for at least one precious day everybody unapologetically made asses of themselves.

Before long, natural selection prevailed and life resumed on course. These precious records were lost. Nobody could find a way to clip them all together.

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