February 23rd, 2004


A veritable lifetime of temporary relief...

Current Events:

Just saw a commercial on TV for Craft-Matic adjustable beds that promises, "A lifetime of temporary relief from lower back pain, poor circulation" and whatever else. No shit. A lifetime of temporary relief. I'm in the wrong business. The world of copy writing needs me bad, it seems.

Compelling Chronicle:

That reminds me of the time my then-girlfriend, who worked at a PMS clinic, came home and announced that a "new study" had found that a woman could have PMS all month. My reaction was, "Then it's no longer Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, is it? It's Perpetual Menstrual Syndrome or Chronic Menstrual Syndrome or On-The-Rag-All-The-Damn-Time Syndrome." She hit me in the shoulder (hard) and went to the bedroom to read by herself. I still thought it was funny and I still haven't learned.

. . .

I got good and wet going to restroom twice this afternoon and evening at work. I should say that it's raining pretty hard today, I did not fall in.

Two of my more recent jobs were in offices that were essentially cubi-toriums. Dilbertville, as it were. The one place was hard to work in. A vast expanse of identical cubes and, for the most part, dead quiet. The problem was that when somebody was having a conversation in a nearby cube, you couldn't help but hear it and have your attention drawn into it. It was very easy to forget that the unseen people in the adjoining cubes could hear you as well as you could hear them and I listened, more than once, to people having fights with their spouses or yelling at their errant kids over the phone.

These cubes were six by eight feet and most of that was taken up by "modular" computer desks on two sides. We had decent chairs for our own use, but we used to scavenge additional crappy hand-me-down chairs so that we could have someplace for someone else to sit when they needed to come talk to us. Mr. Occupational Safety Person put an end to that, though, saying that the cubes were too small for two chairs and somebody might trip over the extra ones. There was, on the bulletin board in the hall (for a while), a xerox of a section of the Code of Federal Regulations stating that the minimum allowable size for a federal prison cell housing one prisoner was eight by ten feet. It had a hand-written note at the bottom reminding us that our cubes were six by eight feet.

The other place was sheer bedlam. I was the sole computer-weenie in a mail-order sales office and everyone, but me, was on the phone all the damn time. Believe it or not, this environment was much more conducive to brain-intensive activity, probably because you could rarely make out a single conversation and you sure as hell couldn't follow one for any length of time. It was like white noise, like sitting next to a waterfall or something.

Anyway, where I work now, I have an honest-to-god office. With a door an' ever'thang. I even have a window (not everyone does). But . . . We do not have indoor plumbing. These buildings are just off the east end of the main runway at the airport. They were put there by the Air Force temporarily in the early '60s. The Air Force had the good sense to abandon the place thirty years ago, but not us. There is, for the comfort of the "human resources" a "temporary" restroom in the middle of the compound. This thing, often referred to as "the latrine trailer" (a throw-back to the Air Force days), is constructed in what appears to have been a single-wide mobile home. It still has a tongue on one end, enabling it to be towed away on a moments notice at any time. It's divided about 70/30 between men's and women's facilities (another throw-back to the Air Force days). I should say in its defense, though, it's not a porta-pottie. It has real bathroom fixtures, running water and the whole deal. The only problem is that you have to go outside to use the bathroom. Hence, "going across the street" has become a euphemism for going to the bathroom, "I'll be there in a minute, but I need to run across the street first."

Still, I'll take my real office with the real door and the "latrine trailer" across the street over a cube with a bathroom down the hall any day. And you can go outside and watch the airplanes when you "need to think". Many years ago the setting inspired someone to write a poem about the sun rising over the latrine trailer as the air filled with the aroma of burning rubber and kerosene from the Southwest 737s smoking their tires and cutting in their thrust reversers as they touched down on the runway a hundred and fifty yards away. I don't remember who showed it to me. I wish I could find it again.