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    One Must Imagine Sisyphus Happy

    Sprezzatura

    by , 04-05-2016 at 01:08 PM (378 Views)

    I am in an office like one of my old jobs. It's a large room with a maze of cubicles but the walls are low enough that you can see everyone. I am in the corner of the room, so I am in a good position to see everything in front of me. I have two computer monitors. On the left one, there is a text editor showing a dense spaghetti of code. On the right one, there is a complicated-looking scene in a 3D-modelling program. But only I know that these are not running programs. They are screenshots that I have set as my desktop background so as to look like I am busy. I am actually tinkering with my phone, but look up when a coworker addresses me.

    His name is David. He is talking with another coworker named Adam. David asks me: "Is it LGBT or GLBT? Adam thinks it's GLBT, but that's wrong, isn't it?"

    I reply: "Why don't you look it up from the source?" I know that LGBT is the more popular form, at least around these parts. But asking me isn't the best way to get the answer.

    They both ignore my suggestion. Adam seems bent on using GLBT. He is a community liason. He is replying to a post on the company forums. I turn my attention back to my phone. I'm trying to close the current app, which is a browser open to the same company forums. But it's not responding. After submitting his post, Adam comes around to me and goads me to read it. I show him that I can't open it on my phone because I'm not logged in, and anyway my phone seems to be hung. He looks at my computer screens are realizes that I am "busy" so instead he returns to his desk to read his post aloud.

    He has used the initials GLBT to form his own acrostic. I conceal a cringe. He then goes on to make some statement about not ending with irony, and he lists a few author's names. The one that jumps out at me is "Robert Irving." Do I know that name? (In recall, I would conclude it's a confusion of Robert Frost and Washington Irving.) Adam seems to be building to a reasonable point but then he ends with something like: "and that puts me right next door to your girlfriend." Oh. A personal slam. Great.

    Now, David comes around to my desk and asks what I'm working on. I point to my phone, indicating that I am slacking off. David is a bit more savvy, so I can confide this to him. But just to indulge him, I open up a real program on my computer. As it loads, I explain that it's a first-person scene, so you don't even see the main character. But when the program opens, it's an animation in third-person. I realize I've been slacking off so much that I don't even remember what the software is supposed to look like. David and I both shrug. Meh, whatever.

    Adam returns, asking for David's help again. He wants to print out his post, so he's asking how to take a screenshot. David admonishes him, saying he should just print it as text instead of capturing an image. They start arguing again. It boils down to a misunderstanding of words -- between take a screenshot and snap a screenshot. Adam says if he wanted an image, he would have said snap. He knows he just wants text, and that's what he means by take a screenshot. It's just a failure of communication.

    I try to avoid getting involved, but they wrap me in nonetheless. David looks at me and compels me to explain to Adam that he is wrong. I sigh. I didn't think it at the time, but in recall I could summarize my displeasure with a bit of Shakespeare: "Words, words, words."

    As I write this, I follow my own earlier advice to "look it up from the source." So, looking up the context of that line from Hamlet, I find that it suits my feeling even better than I thought. I reproduce it here:

    Spoiler for Hamlet, Act II:


    Back to the dream. I start to explain that it's just a misunderstanding. Adam is from a different part of the country and their idioms are a bit different. I don't know if that helps at all. Either both of them are satisfied with this explanation or else both of them are unsatisfied and leave to continue their argument elsewhere. In any case, they leave my desk, which is what I wanted.

    Once again, I return my attention to my phone. I discover why I can't close the app. It's not an app. It's a screenshot of an app that I set as the home screen background. Caught in my own trap.

    A new group of coworkers enters the scene to my right. They are led by a manager, who is not my boss but senior to me. She is a dead-ringer for Michelle Obama. She approaches my desk and asks: "Are you coming to The Show of a Thousand Shows with us? It's optional but I've organized this as a team-building activity."

    I make eye contact with her and then look at my "busy" computer screen, which also leads her eyes their too. "Gee, I dunno..." implying it would be a big imposition to my work. I wait a beat, so that the effect sinks in. "Well, I suppose if it's for the team..."

    She acts relieved and thankful that I conceded to her intention. Maybe I played her perfectly and earned a favor. Or maybe she was playing me. It is imprudent to count the score too early. But in this moment, I feel like I have successfully manipulated her.

    I stand out of my chair and make a big to-do about collecting my things. I drop my briefcase, and out of it spills a half-filled bag of white bread. It's now all smushed and crumbled. I look to the manager. "You'd better go ahead. I'll clean this up and catch up to you." She agrees and the group starts off back to the right.

    I pick up the crumbs and walk them over to a large trash bin on the opposite side of the office. That done, I turn back toward the exit. In see enter yet another coworker. Her name is Sarah. She has dark hair. She wears a tight-fitting pair of black dress pants and matching black blazer. She carries her bag to her desk to my left. Now this is interesting. I wouldn't mind spending some time with Sarah.

    "Are you coming to this Show of Shows?" I ask.

    "No." She replies flatly, but continues. "What's it about anyway?"

    "I don't know." I ponder for a beat. "Maybe it's about dreams..." I become lucid, but The Dreaming collapses quickly as I laugh at myself for this late realization.

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