Disclaimer: The following post contains absolutely nothing to do with running and is entirely without merit. It does contain a rather detailed explanation of a serious – potentially deadly – exposure to basic human bodily functions. In it, the descriptions are sophomoric. There is at least one poorly executed metaphor. If none of this appeals to you, please leave this blog and go about your day. Ultimately, you will be better for it.
My cubicle partner is a farter. I've come to grips with it.
In my quiet little office in Nowheresville, Michigan we are divided and caged into 6x6 cells arranged in a very symmetrical grid pattern throughout the building. Nothing but right angles as far as the eye can see. We are festooned in every neutral color possible. I was never before aware there were so many shades of tan in the world. There is absolutely nothing in here to offend anyone.
Except, perhaps, what we choose to bring in to the building. For this, there is a myriad of rules – itemized in bullet points to accommodate the necessary sub bullets for further clarification – to avoid the smallest ripple of nonconformity. The number of pictures on your desk; the type of pictures; the make and style of knick knacks; all of this detailed in a handy dandy rule book. ‘There will be no individuality here’ they subtly proclaim. Nothing is left to chance.
Except, there is a loophole. They didn't see it. They couldn't imagine it. But, it exists.
And my cubicle partner has found it.
We are allowed to see one other person while seated in our cubes. By craning my neck back and to the left, I can make out the rear 2/3’s of another human hunched over his desk clicking away at the keyboard. If not for the humming of the computer and the occasional pass for coffee, I wouldn't even know he was there.
Until recently, that is.
Sure, the company has done a wonderful job shaving off our individual rough edges and fitting us neatly together in a giant square puzzle consisting of smaller, perfectly square interchangeable pieces. However, we are still free to eat what we want for lunch.
And process that food in the manner our body sees fit.
And expel that waste in a truly independent form.
There are no rules here. Our digestive track is our own, uncharted process. Individuality exists! We are free people!
I think the first time I heard the rapid fire vrip, vrap, vrud I was stunned silent. Okay, that was clearly a fart. Out loud. With no effort to conceal it. Hmmm, alright. He’s a guy; I’m a guy. Fart jokes are funny. I craned my neck back to make eye contact for the shared you-just-farted-in-the-office snicker. He did not return my gaze but clicked away at the keyboard.
No big deal. No smell. No foul.
Then, it happened again. And again. Throughout the afternoon.
VRRRIPPPP. PFFFFT. FRRRRID
Different intonations. Different lengths to the notes. Different volumes. The dude is a gas maestro.
C’mon now, at this point, a sheepish grin is warranted at the very least. I can hear people two aisles over laughing out loud. There is guilt by association. For my honor, you must recognize this act. Own it.
He clicks away apparently oblivious.
This has gone on for weeks now. Every afternoon, like clockwork, it begins.
FFFRAPP FRRRRIP PFFFFTTPIP (there was a bubble at the end)
We are getting shameless cheek lifting action now.
I’m becoming so familiar with this routine that I think I’m able to accurately guess the amount, consistency, and texture of the man’s lunch.
One of the benefits of my solitary, analytical job is that I can plug in my headphones and rock out to some tunes whilst this Concerto in Chili Fries Minor is going on behind me. So far, there has been no accompanying odor. I must be safely outside of the evaporation zone.
Normally, I would let this type of behavior carry on without a single comment. It’s kinda funny. I can tune it out. Everyone knows he’s the office farter and not me. So, big deal, right?
However, it has unexpectedly sent me into an internal dilemma that I am spending way too much of my day thinking about. This can’t go on like this. I’m looking at months, potentially years, sharing this same area of the office with this gaseous man. There is only so much music in the world to conceal it. My ears are sore by the end of the day.
What to do?
I have considered saying something. He has, in fact, mentioned that he is a bit hard of hearing. Maybe he doesn't realize it is so loud? After all, he never becomes self conscious or appears to recognize in anyway that, well, that one was particularly moist. Should I do him a solid and point it out?
“Hey P____, can I get you some more coffee? And, by the way, everyone can hear you shitting your pants.”
“Um, excuse me, do you have to use the potty?”
I guess I could fight fire with fire and return volley. It might make me feel better. But he can’t hear so well. This might be futile.
I hate to embarrass the guy. I mean, he’s doing a pretty good job of it himself. I don’t want to be seen as the office Fart Policeman either. And Lord knows my wife can attest to the fact that I’m not anti-fart in anyway. But still….
Something must be done. For now, I’ll hunker down and wait it out. It might be a stage. I mean, for awhile in the 90’s, I thought I just might be the next lead singer of Van Halen but I got over it. This may pass. Lower G.I. order may be restored. Office conformancy may again reign supreme.
Unless the evaporative zone expands and I’m caught in the fumes. Then I’m coming out swingin’ baby. Chair overturning, paper flying, full windmill arms exacting justice on the head of the noxious perpetrator.
This I vow.