Not to put too fine a point on anything, but I work for a fairly huge organization based out of South Florida that does billions in revenue. We’re talking big, big, BIG money. So you would hope to think — which is a dangerous venture in and of itself — that said organization would, at the very least, somewhat strive to ensure that the back-office personnel, who keep the cogs of the Happy Funtime Money Machine well-oiled and free-wheeling, have a work environment that fostered comfort, productivity, efficiency, camaraderie, and an ethos that would rival Puritanical self-starting can-do’ism.
But We Have No Time For Rational Solutions.
OK hyperbole aside, I want to share with you all An Incident from 2010. In our beloved break room, we have a large, soda-machine-sized cooler that is usually filled with soda and bottled water for office employees. Usually. One morning in 2010, someone decided that they pretty much had HAD it with stocking the cooler every day. They were done. Finished. Kaput. Over. FEH! We walked into the break room that morning to see the following Declaration of Principles plastered all over the cooler:
I stared at this message for a good…. oh, let’s say 45 minutes. In lieu of any actual WORK being done that morning. To loosely paraphrase Harvey Korman inBlazing Saddles, my mind was a cascading whirlpool of nodules of something, something… Obviously, this wasn’t going to stand. But in the face of adversity, the temptation to give in to juvenalia isn’t just overpowering, it’s nearly unstoppable. The trick of the tale, of course, is to rise above your animal instincts, to push through the wanton chaos emanating like toxic clouds from the reptilian brain, to traverse the evolutionary chutes-and-ladders of the neocortex and proudly assume the mantle of the illuminated mind, the Vesuvian dream fulfilled, to reach out to and stare down The Gods Themselves, achieving pure transcendent Metropolis-like spherical fusion of heart and mind.
But as you probably figured out by now, I sorta ain’t never learned that trick…
So I got my ass to Paint.NET and this was the result, which was proudly taped right atop the aforementioned Ninety-Five Theses of Carbonated Resistance:
OK, it was simple. Snidely Whiplash presents striking imagery of classic silent-film do-baddery. I pictured cases of soda being tied to railroad tracks, legs kicking and flailing akimbo. Point made, right? Well I wouldn’t know. It was taken down in less than five minutes.
Well as my grandmother used to say, “If you’re laughing before breakfast, you’ll be crying after dinner.” A very Russian sentiment. I have no idea what it means in the context of THIS story. But it provides an (im)perfect segue into my next Raised Fist of Agitation, which was pasted soon afterward on top of the original Declaration:
This one didn’t even make it to five minutes. It was gone almost immediately. 🙁
Well, I remained undaunted. I was then, and remain to this day, completely uncontaminated by daunt. I stared daunt in the eye on a dusty Sunday morn, ‘ere sunrise, arms at my side, tapping my fingers in the air at waist level but not reachin’ for my sidearms just yet. Time stretched out into infinity as the daunt and I circled each other and Sergio Leone-inspired tableau of… wait, wait, wait. Tableau? Really? It’s like using the word ennui when attempting to express sheer boredom and existential blues. I’m about as French as Genghis Kahn. NO, I don’t mean Genghis Khan, I meant Gengis Kahn. The well-known Dutch cantor…
But pseudo-Scandinavian Judaic crooners aside, it was obvious that I needed to take a more, shall we say, cerebral science fiction approach to the issue. Heading back to the Paint.NET drawing board, I had a moment of Lynchian inspiration and soon published this little nugget of veritas:
This disappeared off the cooler faster than I could even put it up. FINE! You want your Sci-Fi big, loud, dopey, and cheesy?? YOU GOT IT! Take this:
Taken away so fast, they left vapor trails. You see the fatal flaw in my approach right? Baby Boomer security guards (oops did I reveal too much with that?) have no time or use for Gen-X classics like the 1980 Flash Gordon movie — which is so freakin’ holy to me, a Kol Nidre service can’t even begin to compare. (Google it. It’s pure torture…) So finally, I came to the realization that if I want to build an empathic bridge to someone of a previous generation, I need to speak on their level. It’s like learning the old Ubbi-Dubbi language from Zoom, but without the need for red/yellow striped shirts or a sponsorship drive. But I miss the tote bag. Regardless, I figured this would be my Final Breakthrough of Awesomeness:
To quote Guns N’ Roses quoting Cool Hand Luke, some men you just can’t reach. Which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it! I totally heard that song on Spotify this morning, which is apropos of everything, because at this point not only had every last message I posted on the cooler been taken down, it was actually engendering an Inquisition Panel within the organization. As in, “Okay so WHO’S the clown putting all these up?” Needless to say, the issue of stocking the cooler with soda remained unresolved, as by this time I had achieved a Kaiser Soyze level of infamy and anonymity. Which is total horseshit, because the people who knew, KNEW, and were anxiously awaiting my next endeavor with baited breath. Like Zorro, I never had time to enjoy the adulation, as I had to swing in and out of the break room faster than you can say “Saul Rubinek”, pasting my masterworks to the cooler and disappearing into the artificial lighting without a trace.
But this was all an exercise in failure, since my endeavors were quickly removed the minute they were spotted by ‘The Fuzz’. Phooey! But then I realized that the problem was mine. I was drawing attention to my acts of corporate disobedience. Active resistance was quickly suppressed. As the Japanese say, the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. I’ve never actually heard someone of Japanese descent say this. I was too much of a blunt instrument. I needed to be less James Bond and more Simon Templar. Or whichever one was played by Roger Moore. With less winky smirkiness. (Yes I know Moonraker sucks, but I love it, so bite me.)
So where did this leave me? With a moment of what I consider true epiphany. Four-color super-heroics would leave me high and dry. I had to get subtle. Insidious. Subversive. It hit me faster than seasonal self-loathing at The Isle of Misfit Toys. The original message, the cause of this entire exchange, was STILL taped to the cooler door. It hadn’t gone anywhere, nor was it going anywhere anytime soon. The flaw in my strategy was that I kept trying to visually undermine it with riffs on pop-culture.
So what did I do? I figured it out. Almost immediately. Firing up Microsoft Word (as opposed to Proctor & Gamble Word), I typed out and printed a page. In the exact same font. In the exact same rhythm. With almost the same verbiage. So instead of the original message…
… I pasted, directly over it, the following:
Total time of exposure before discovery: NEARLY FORTY-FIVE FREAKIN’ MINUTES!!
To quote my favorite novel of all time from the greatest American writer of all time: Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene…