Friday, July 25, 2008

Dipping Pens in Company Ink

I've missed out on a lot of things over the course of my existence. If it wasn't for bad timing, it was just my dumb luck. For example, I missed any chance to see Babe Ruth play baseball because he up and died before I was born.

I missed out on taking the hottest girl in my class to the Senior Prom because she turned me down. Because I went to a different party after the prom, I missed out on being there when the hottest girl in my class got plastered and took on all the guys present.

I missed making the varsity baseball team because I swung at and missed a pitch high and inside on the day of final cuts. I missed making the honor roll because of Algebra.

I missed out on having valuable sets of baseball cards and comic books because of a flood while I was away at college. I once threw a tomato at Ted Kennedy ... and missed! I missed Woodstock because I was a sailor overseas serving my country.

I missed out on trying to become an artist or a cartoonist because no one told me I could draw.

I missed out on trying to become a Journalist or a writer because no one told me I could write.

I guess, what it all comes down to is Karma or fate. Somethings just aren't meant to be! It's all in the hand you are dealt. Would I, had I the chance, trade any of the things I didn't miss for some of those I never attained? Of course with hindsight that question would be easy to answer.

If myself and a friend hadn't stopped at a gas station to use the facilities, we might have arrived 15 minutes earlier and been crossing the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River at Gallopolis when it collapsed. If I hadn't once stopped in a bank doorway to light a cigarette, that 200 pound flower pot that fell ten stories and smashed on the sidewalk would have surely killed me. If I hadn't taken the wrong wing at Chicago's Ohare, I would not have missed a flight that crashed two hours later.

If I hadn't heard One Less Bell to Answer by the Fifth Dimension on the radio, I would not have called a girl I had broken up with two months earlier. I was on my way to the airport, leaving Boston to return to West Virginia. That girl and I have now been married 36 years.

Most recently, I just missed hitting the lottery by six of the seven numbers!

Dipping Pens In Company Ink

There is most definitely one thing that I missed and I am glad that I did. It was the arrival of the storm clouds heralding the PC revolution. (That's "P" as in political and "C" as in correctness.) For the record, that time was also before the appearance of personal computers in the homes.

It has been 16 years since I worked in an office environment. There have been a lot of changes in that passage of time, not the least of which was the introduction (or permeation) of the aforementioned PC.

Don't get me wrong, I do not and never did practice or condone sexual harassment. As for the title of this post, I never practiced or condoned "dipping one's pen in company ink" either. I have heard of company policies that discourage employee fraternization, some with the penalty of dismissal for the failure to comply.

I worked in an office of 30 people, all of whom were employed there for 10 or more years. In a sense we grew together in the company. We were all friends. We worked together. We lunched together. We drank together. (And ... yes, I suppose some slept together too. )

Above all, as far as our jobs were concerned, we were all very professional. Amongst ourselves however, our interactions with one one another were often interspersed with innuendos:
"Ah Sue, are you glad to see me or did someone put the AC on high again?"

"Joe, are you going to ask me to lunch, or did you just forget to zip up your fly?"
Nearly all of us, men and women, were married and had been before we began working there. Most of us even knew each other's significant others from company parties and outings. Many of us even held or attended cook outs at our homes with invitations to our fellow workers. We played on a co-ed softball team and formed a husbands-wives bowling league.

There were three women in particular who were Dolly Parton-esque, if you get my drift, and they were often subjected to mammary references. The three of them were sitting together in the lunch room one day when I came in:
I looked at them and said, "Why do I have this sudden urge to go mountain climbing?"

To which Linda looked down at herself, arched her back and without batting an eyelash answered, "You know, Mike, to go mountain climbing you need specialized equipment. Are you sure you have the necessary equipment?"

Points scored by Linda.
I'm sure that there are many who would find that kind of behavior and interaction between male and female office workers unacceptable and offensive. They no doubt would not want to work in such an environment.

As I stated above, the men and women in our office had worked together for a lot of years and we developed that overly casual worker-friend/friend-worker atmosphere over time. Not once did we ever hear of complaints within or without our department about our actions and interplay.

Perhaps our closeness, looseness and little or no regard for etiquette in such manners was an aberration. One thing though is certain. We would have never been able to interact in such a way in today's world where political correctness has run amok.

For all the regret and disappointment that I have known in my life for the things I have missed, working in an office where I have to watch everything I say and do is not one of them.

From time to time I have run into some of those women. We still exchange pleasantries with statements like:
"Hello, Linda. Oh wow! I didn't realize it was that cold in here."

"Mike if you're planning on doing any mountain climbing, I got to see if you ever got the proper equipment."

"Damn if you don't still look good. You look good enough to eat and I forgot to bring a bib."

"If I'd known you were hungry, I would have left my underwear at home today."
It feels good to know that fellow workers can still loosen the noose of inhibitions and still be friends without getting caught up in the creeping tendrils of the PC Police.



Skunkfeathers said...

I don't date where I work, and as a supervisor there, I have to walk a careful line in the 'gender jokes' department.

That having been said, most of the women there love giving me good natured grief, and think nothing of the PC Police when doing it.

It does this middle-aged dude's ego good ;)

Hale McKay said...


I agree - getting playful non-PC remarks from the women are indeed good for the ego. It helps if they don't mind the reverse.