Sign of the times
So you can understand my chagrin about an hour ago, when I heard an unfamiliar voice in the newsroom yell out, "Which way is the publisher's office?" This wasn't a mousy voice. It was loud, confident even, like the person behind it was on a mission. Or maybe I'm just paranoid.
I heard in my mind that cartoonish screeching-to-a-halt sound, my fingers lifted themselves off my keyboard, I screwed up my face and made that "ruh?" sound that Scooby Doo used to make when he was confused or facing a conundrum.
Then I made eye contact with a colleague whose desk is across from mine. And the look on his face said that he'd heard it - the question, not the cartoon screeching sound - too.
OK, laugh if you must, but my thoughts went in this order: "Disgruntled postal worker! No wait, this isn't the post office. Disgruntled reporter! Pissed off reporter! Reporter, who, like Milton Waddams, the red stapler dude in Office Space, feels like he's been kicked around! Crap! We're about to get lit up and I'm working on a really good story!"
Seriously, all those thoughts flashed through my mind in about 5.3 seconds. I'm guessing at the point-three. But it was close.
I don't think I would've dove under my desk. But I'm no hero. So I'm not ruling it out.
Fortunately, it didn't come down to that. A few seconds later I saw the source of the voice: a young woman, pushing some sort of delivery cart. She was lost. Her question was what it was. She just wanted to find the publisher's office, where she apparently had a harmless delivery to make.
A minute or so later my colleague across the way and I shared a nervous laugh. He observed that someone - perhaps several someones - had quickly pointed her in the right direction....away from all of us. Hmmm.
Just like the fat guy looking at himself in one of those beautifying distortion mirrors at the carnival, I picture myself pointing my imagined disgruntled-postal-reporter-person into a broom closet, slamming the door shut, and bracing it with a heavy filing cabinet, thus saving the day.
In reality, I probably would have hidden under my desk....along with everyone else.
But how crazy is it that so much nuttiness is going on in the world that a person asking what turned out to be a perfectly innocent question can put us on edge?