Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Overheard Down at the Cube Farm

Down at the cube farm you hear no end of things, some that are funny, some that are strange, and sometimes even things that are unprintable. Though it is tempting to relate items from the third column, for the sake of peace I will refrain. Something strange I heard the other morning here at the cube farm was an upper management-type disrupting a confab with some body awkwardness.

Keep in mind that I did not see any of this. The soul of discretion, I cowered behind my cube partition and peeked not once. There was nothing, however, to prevent my ears from catching every word and rustle of cloth; like me, your mind will have to provide the visuals.

The manager was holding an impromptu meeting with three associates, barreling along with a commanding baritone about this and that live issue. Others piped in on occasion but for the most part it was the manager's show. Then something happened and there was complete silence. I heard a rustle, like a pants leg being slid up a calf, and then the manager offering an apology. "Sorry," I heard him say, "I don't mean to gross you guys out."

No response from the others. What had happened? Had the manager revealed a festering wound on his ankle, or perhaps an exposed shard of bone? Was he boldy proclaiming a choice of socks in bad taste? I don't know. As I said, all I could do was listen. The manager went on to say,

"I knew it would callous over and the spine work its way out..." More rustling. "I think that's happening." He apologized again and resumed talking about whatever business it was they were talking about. Eventually the others began speaking and within minutes the meeting had dispersed.

But the peace of my day had been permanently shattered.

Had the manager encountered a porcupine some days or weeks back and gotten one of its spines lodged under the skin? I heard him say "splinter" as well as "spine", so it might have been a rude collision with a bench to blame. Whatever the source of the manager's ailment, it certainly was provocative without some visual backup to provide more details. And what a scenario for a television comedy: a senior employee exposing a callous within which is lodged or half-lodged a sliver of some kind. I could only imagine the suffering endured by the man while he waited out the callousing process (is there a proper verb for that?), feeling and sensing day after day the intruder in his leg or arm, feeling it shifting around and making its way toward the surface with such slowness that a callous was able to form: what a pain threshold the man must possess, not to mention a good dose of patience while he waited for the whole thing to play out. I didn't get the sense that the offending spine was entirely separated right there at the meeting and it is most likely that even as I type the manager is enduring the slow migration of an invader from his limb.

My biggest question: Where do they teach that the best way to deal with something lodged under your skin is to let it callous over?


RollerKaty said...

LOL! Gross!

Maybe a cactus spine?

wngl said...

I didn't think of a cactus spine. At least that's vegetable-based.

D. I. Dalrymple said...

This is really disturbing. Reminds me of a Mervyn Peake book called 'Mr Pye' in which the title character grows strange limbs from his body and goes to lengths to hide the fact or cover up his embarassment when he fails. A good book, by the way.