The Fart Box

Professional. /prəˈfeSH(ə)n(ə)l/. Adjective. Relating to or connected with a profession. “Young professional people.” Synonyms: White Collar, executive. Nonmanual. “People in professional occupations.”

Pencil skirts.
Ties.
Briefcases.
Cubicles.
Desk phones with cords.
Laptops.
Branded coffee mugs.

And amongst these items, people are perfect, mature, professional adults collaborating and creating and succeeding.
“Why does it smell like a FART in here?”

Perfect, mature, professional adults.

Klarissa drops her bag in the doorway and sniffs the air. “It smells like fart in here!” She repeats, wrinkling her nose.
I chuckle and shake my head. “One dude snuck one out 3 weeks ago and it LINGERED.”
Klarissa sighs heavily and trudges toward her desk, bag dragging lazily on the ground. She flips her raven hair over her shoulder and collapses into her chair, glaring across the table.  We don’t have cubes up here in this mezzanine afterthought of an office. We are spread out along a giant table and share shoulder space. We have to suck it in when people squeeze by behind us, and we might as well just start walking on the tables to get to the exit.

If there’s ever a fire, we’re all dead.

“I can’t believe this,” Klarissa continues. “They took away our downtown office. They’re changing our logo. They’re shrinking this department.” She groans and drops her face into her hands. “I’m glad I am moving to Vietnam. I mean, I am just fresh out.” She checks her bag, rummages around. “Yep,” she confirms, “Fresh out of fucks.”
“There’s the name of our new podcast,” I announce, leaning back and spinning in my chair. “Farts and Fucks.”
We share a laugh that is quickly silenced when the door swings open.
“Oh, Tim,” I greet. “It’s just you. Hey buddy.”
“Hi!” Tim waves as he makes his way toward his desk beside mine. “How is everyone?” He asks, his signature wide smile stretching across his cheeks.
Before Klarissa and I can answer, more employees pile in to this claustrophobic prison where we long for a glimpse outside and slowly asphyxiate on methane. The three of us share a look, then simultaneously shift our eyes to our computers.

Tim 8:23 AM:
does anyone else think it smells like a giant fart again today?

Klarissa 8:23 AM:
ALWAYS. like wtf???

Kaitlin 8:23 AM:
I can’t keep it together if we keep talking about farts & fucks.

Klarissa 8:23 AM:
hahaha the name of our podcast. I’d listen to that.

Tim 8:23 AM:
should i stand up and say “who is shitting their pants?!”

Klarissa 8:23 AM:
HAHAHAH

Klarissa 8:24 AM:
I think we broke Kaitlin. She’s crying.

Klarissa 8:24 AM:
LOLOL i fucking can’t

Kaitlin 8:24 AM:
god i’m so mature. laughing at farts. #adult.

Tim 8:25 AM:
hahaha

Klarissa 8:25 AM:
dude no matter how old i am, farts are ALWAYS going to be funny

Kaitlin 8:25 AM:
so true. always.

Klarissa 8:25 AM:
i can be 92 and still laughing my ass off at my own farts

Tim 80:26 AM:
at 92 we probably won’t even know we are farting

Kaitlin 8:26 AM:
Fact.

Klarissa 8:28 AM:
I’m really sick of it smelling like farts up in here. This is not professional.

Too many of us spend our lives working because we must, rather than because we want to. I work here because I like to buy nice things and decided adulting means having a big house. Maybe one day the writing will pay the bills and passion will finally become profession. But in the meantime, coworkers like Klarissa and Tim make the office days tolerable. They bring joy to the monotony of desk work and the world of machinery. This was never the plan, working in this industry, but things tend to snowball, and I consider it all a part of the journey.

How many times along this journey should I have been fired for laughing to myself at my desk, tears streaming down the sides of my face?

Debatable.

Things could certainly be worse here. Indeed, we have it rather good, if you think of this fart box as more a penthouse in the sky with a world-class view of packaging machinery across a shop floor. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, an office reeking of flatulence isn’t that bad.

I once thought working in an office would completely capture the essence of adulting, but I am not certain that’s true. In the 2 office settings I’ve worked in, it was far from what I pictured. From shooting nerf darts across lines of cubicles to bitching about farts on skype, I learned that being an adult professional does not omit fun nor frustration. What makes the professional is how she manages these things.

Publicly.

I will bitch all day long to my friends on Skype, but when I address concerns with the boss, I am professionalism.

The difficulties of professionalism and adulting aside, there exists an unwritten rulebook of office etiquette, and far too many remain ignorant of its existence.

  1. Chew with your damn mouth closed. You’re disgusting.
  2. Do NOT fart in an enclosed and/or crowded area.
  3. Do NOT play sound from your laptop without earbuds when those around you are working.
  4. NEVER talk politics and religion at the office. You might think you and your homeboy Trump are right all day long, but you are offending the hell out of the liberal millennial across from you and annoying the shit out of the moderate temperamental writer sitting beside you. And I like Jesus as much as the next guy, but please do everyone a favor and keep the preaching at church, not in the office.
  5. Don’t even THINK about talking to me if my headphones are in. This is office language for DO NOT DISTURB.

Speaking of office language, as a professional, I have come to speak this dialect quite fluently and learned the translation of certain phrases. For example:

  • Per my last email = CAN YOU FUCKING READ?
  • I will prioritize my schedule = I don’t have time for this bullshit.
  • It may benefit the group if…= Here’s what we’re going to do to make this easier on me.
  • Copying the boss on an email = I’m telling on you, Carl. Do your job.
  • Let’s table that thought = your idea sucks, Susan.
  • As soon as I get through these emails = I’m scrolling Facebook, ask me later.
  • Want to do lunch? = Wait till you hear the hunk of juicy gossip I’ve got for you.
  • Can you offer some support? = I’m drowning, here, Janet, get off your ass and help me!
  • I’m experiencing some technical difficulties = This computer is a PILE, and if you tell me to turn it off and back on again, SO HELP ME GOD.,,

Thankfully, we have instant message systems like Skype for employees to speak English to one another throughout the work day and let go of that office language filter. But, let’s be honest. If this company ever decides to pull my Skype conversations, I am so fired.

Tim 11:38 AM:
what time do ya’ll want to go to lunch?

Kaitlin 11:38 AM:
now

Klarissa 11:40 AM:
right after i finish this script and go to the pee room

Tim 11:40 AM:
just pee in your chair. No one will know

Kaitlin 11:40 AM:
Me. I will know.

Tim 11:41 AM:
That’s why these chairs are mesh fabric

Klarissa 11:41 AM:
makes sense now

Tim 11:41 AM:
right

Klarissa 11:43 AM:
we are cogs in a machine. we aren’t allowed to eat and pee

Klarissa 11:43 AM:
solution? mesh chairs

Kaitlin 11:44 AM:
what about #2

Klarissa 11:44 AM:
hold it in until you die of shit

Tim 11:44 AM:
or let it out and then the fart box becomes a poop box

Kaitlin Staniulis 11:45 AM:
let it gooo, let it GOOO,,, can’t hold it in any moreeeeee

Tim 11:45 AM:
OMG

Klarissa 11:45 AM:
OMG I’m gonna put a picture of Elsa in the restroom stalls

Kaitlin 11:45 AM:
YES

Kaitlin 11:45 AM:
TAPE IT OVER THE ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE FLIERS

Klarissa 11:46 AM:
that’ll be my magnum opus and last contribution to this company

Klarissa 11:46 AM:
my wildfire moment

Tim 11:46 AM:
HAHA #Gameofthrones

Klarissa 11:47 AM:
Elsa with wildfire explosion behind her

Klarissa 11:47 AM:
i’d buy that

Kaitlin 11:47 AM:
COMIC CON GOLD

Klarissa 11:48 AM:
ya’ll better quit your jobs now, momma bout to get rich off nerds.

One day, dear friend.

Drawing and writing and living our passion like the adults we were meant to be.

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