Last Wednesday, I was working in the Real Change office at my customary desk when my supervisor, Rebecca “Don’t say ‘WHAT’ to me” Marriott, walked in carrying a tablecloth.
She wanted someone in our office space to send out an all-staff email to tell everyone where she was putting the tablecloth. Five coworkers — or cow-orkers, as I like to call them — work in the office with me, and I am the only one who is supervised by her. But, for just that reason she wouldn’t ask me to send out the email, because she knew too well that I would say, “WHAT?”
So instead she handed the task off to advocacy dude Jacob “Philosophical whiz kid” Schear.
Not only did Jacob agree to send the email without first blurting out “WHAT?,” he tried to be extra helpful by offering to send a first draft of the email to Rebecca for her approval. This made me laugh, because here she was trying to pass something off, and here he was offering to hand a piece of the potato back. “Sure, I’ll mop the floor out here, but first I’ll take the mop and full bucket to your office for you to sign off on.”
So anyway, she ended up putting the tablecloth “behind Katie’s desk.”
Now Katie is a coworker in our office who was working from home that day. So in all this she is only mentioned for the purpose of saying which desk. Not my desk, not Jacob’s desk. Katie’s desk.
The email was written and sent out identifying where the tablecloth was put exactly as Rebecca described it: “Behind Katie’s desk.”
“Well, in fact, ackshually,” I said out loud for all to hear, “she didn’t put it behind the desk: She put it on a high shelf above the desk.” And then I drew immediate heckling from the room when I said further that it was placed above and in front of Katie’s desk, not at all behind it.
My coworkers insisted later that there was no heckling, merely a friendly debate. I said, yeah, a debate in which I was the only right one and they were all wrong.
Their theory was that when you are sitting at a desk in the normal manner, you are, by dint of that fact, sitting behind it.
I said, to the contrary, you are sitting in front of the desk; the backside is the other side, the side without the drawer. But the tablecloth was above where Katie would sit if she were there, hence it was above the front of the desk, not above the behind. The behind in fact faces me and is not where Katie ever sits; no tablecloth was placed behind her desk anywhere near me.
As the debate heated up and moved into its baroque and rococo phases, I had to point out such things as that kids in the living room don’t ever sit behind the TV, where they couldn’t see it, they always sit in front of it.
My favorite point in the debate was when we got into a discussion of what it means for someone to sit in front of someone else. As I turned to face Jacob, he asked, “So right now I’m in front of you? Would that mean you are behind me?” A great question, showing an excellent grasp of the fact that front and behind are antonyms and therefore logically must be reversed in this context.
When Alice passed through the looking glass, I always thought she went from in front of it to behind it, but apparently this is a controversial idea. It’s a good thing the book was only fiction, or thinking about that would hurt people’s heads. Or so I’m learning. At least one of my coworkers complained of head pain after the debate.
In notable local news, we are all going to be able to take a ferry from here in Seattle to Des Moines (not the one in Iowa) according to KING5. I am already practicing how to pronounce Des Moines the Washington state way (Da Moynz) so I can blend in with the natives during a day excursion. It’s going to be free when it starts up in August. I’m looking forward to going once and never being able to afford it again.
A trip of a lifetime.
Read more of the July 27-Aug. 2, 2022 issue.