Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grubbin it up here, Boss

- Wolves.   I was evidently raised by wolves.  I never considered that someone would complain if I drank from the carton if nobody else in the household drank milk, but complain they did, which left me with a choice; to pursue my vice in secret by swilling from behind the fridge door, or to be blatant and challenging about it, growling as I guard the box in my embrace. 
- You might say "There is another option!", but I tested that theory.  I bought an extra carton and marked one 'WOLVES'.  I didn't touch the one unmarked, and it went untouched.  So much for others turned away by my habit.  You might also suppose that I could just use a glass.  The washing seems a bit wasteful, and would also require me to think and behave differently.  This mind is besieged with requests for change without having the ability to even prioritize, much less act upon them.  So, I openly imbibe in spite of the obvious health effects of whole milk and domestic discord.
- Then, in the workplace, another request for wolflessness.  In a nondescript print on the anonymous dry erase board in the break room, someone had dared to display "NO GRUBBING IN THE M&Ms!!  USE A CUP!!".  Now, first of all, the wolves who raised me never bought a pound of candy, ever.  And if they had, they would never have left it displayed  in a bowl for just anyone to help themselves.  And if that accident of fate WERE to occur, nobody would be surprised at the multitude of snarling snouts that would quickly empty the bowl, much less complain that no one knew where those snouts had been.  So I am amazed.  Amazed that I work for a company that actually makes an effort to fatten it's employees.  Amazed that those well fed wage earners cannot refuse the beckoning of the sweet bowl to the tune of a pound of peanuts and dark chocolate per day.  Amazed that, evidently, some of my coworkers, instead of just whisking a handful to their desks, are evidently sorting, swirling, and jumping in the candy bowl like children in a McDonald's ball pit! (We all know what disease laden bacteria breeding infestations THOSE are!)
- The guilt begins to settle in.  I think about all the places my fingers have traveled in the course of the day.  Desktops, keyboards, stair rails, door knobs, steering wheels, shared pens and pencils, eating implements, armpits, and WORSE!  I DO wash my hands several times per day, but I certainly cannot guarantee the contents of the water I wash them in.  I feel horrible that at least one among my colleagues is living in fear of what the rest of us may transmit to the common vital m&m source.  So, I resolve to do something about it. 
- It's clear to me that behavior needs to change, and it's very unlikely the message on the board will change it.  There are twenty people who will scoff at the writing, give the bowl a swirl, and trail a vapor of chocolate breath back to their desks without another thought.  A few concerned citizens with less to do will stop to ponder for a moment whether 'tis a greater sin to use an extra styrofoam cup (putting the company's 'green' image at stake) or to palm at the risk of being confronted.  (The latter always wins.)  One or two will shrug, fill a cup to the brim, and take half home at the end of the day for the rat terrier they resent and wish to poison. (Sorry. Bit of a tangent there.)  But, obviously, the note on the board will cause none of these folks to adapt in a big way.  Humans are resistant to change, and it occurs to me that it would be much easier to change the viewpoint of one person than thirty, and I set about finding out who wrote the note. 
- "Grubbin' it up here, Boss!", I say to the receptionist, while I shake the bag.  She laughs, so I know it wasn't her that wrote the note. 
-  "I've never heard you use 'grub' before!", I say. 
-  "Nope.  And you won't, either." (Denying her involvement.) 
-  "But I heard you...", and I point to the message on the board.  "Uh, Uh."
-  "Were they really upset?   Did they talk about it?"  
-  "Don't know.  That showed up on the weekend.  I was off."  (Now we're getting somewhere.) 
-  "Probably just one of those night shift mood things.  She sort of has a point, if you think about it." 
-  "HEEE" (quick to the defense of the sisterhood) "won't score points being bossy, even if he's tired."
-  And so I've got my man;  male, night shift on the weekend, and surely not the marathoner or the guy who takes the newspaper to the bathroom for his morning 'constitutional'.
-  "Grubbin' it up here, Boss!", I say while shaking the bag the next morning, and every shift change thereafter for a week.  I leave an article describing the permitted number of bug parts in the M&M manufacture process.  I disinfect the desk surfaces before leaving, hinting that we all should, but only to him.  I mention that the cloth chairs he uses must be loaded with dust mites in that they are inhabited 24 hrs per day.  I wonder out loud about the air filtration in our old building.  I leave out the link to the video site that shows disgusting things that happen in commercial kitchens. 
-  Where my help for this poor tortured individual ends, others catch on and take up the slack.  Taped next to the message on the break room board is an empty candy wrapper and a note; "$1 from the vending machine in the hall! - Ungrubbed!".  Someone else Saran-wraps the candy bowl.  A few candies get left on a disinfecting tissue on the table next to a filter mask and safety glasses.  A fake audit form is filled out concerning the spread of deadly diseases on workplace snacks citing specifically items that don't melt in your hands.
- The pressure is relentless, and our poor burdened soul eventually succumbs.   As I walk in one morning, he picks up the M&M bag from the break table in full sight of the entire crew.  "Grubbin' it up here Boss!, he says as he sticks his bare hand into the bag.  "Grubbin' it up!"
- I'm thrilled I could help.  It occurs to me, though, that I, raised by wolves, might be blessed.  Wolves are happy to have a job.  They'd be thrilled to have something to eat without risking death to get it.  They can't worry about all of the parasites and stomach upsets hovering on every surface they touch.  They maintain an ordered, cooperative society that caters to the best interest of the pack.  They are civil to each other, because that is in their own interest.  There are worse ways to be raised.  And by the way, on the rare occasion that I can't walk past a dark chocolate covered peanut, I now use a napkin because, raised by wolves, I hadn't ever thought about it.