Monday, May 02, 2005

Sign Wars

And now it's time for more insight into the mind of Karma. I am using the words insight and mind loosely here. Don't worry, Chuck. She hasn't upset or annoyed me in any way. She just reacted to something in her own, inimitable, worst possible way and I decided to tweak her about it indirectly...

First, a little background. We have a program in our department called Monday Morning Munchies. Anyone can participate. All you do is sign up. Signing up entitles you to partake of the breakfast spread brought in by the current week's scheduled participant. In return, on your week, you bring in enough for everybody on Monday morning. Simple enough. However, it needs to be coordinated so that people know when their turn is. Someone has to maintain and post the list. This is Karma's responsibility. Apparently, with great responsibility comes great power.

You see, Karma doesn't like bagels. She'll eat them if someone brings chocolate chip bagels or cinnamon sugar covered bagels. But she won't like it. The problem is, most of the department likes bagels. So bagels have accounted for roughly half the breakfasts of late. Perhaps not that much, but definitely the last two weeks in a row. Not good. Last week was bagels again.

Now, if a reasonable person were in this situation, there are a number of things they might do. See if you can guess how Karma responded. Did she...

a) Drop out of the voluntary program, hand the reigns over to someone else, and take responsibility for her own breakfast since the communal one was no longer meeting her needs?

b) Send a polite request to all the participants that some people don't like bagels and suggest that bringing more than one type of item for breakfast or staggering the frequency of the bagels might be an improvement on the system.

c) Issue a decree banning bagels from the breakfast rotation.

Naturally, the answer is 'c' as I wouldn't feel the need to write about A or B. She made a sign and hung it over the munchies. The sign decreed:

Attention: Bagels are now banned from Monday Morning Munchies.
One of the participants asked her what was wrong with bagels. She complained that she didn't like them and anyway, these weren't good bagels.

That last bit struck me as an odd and insensitive thing to say within earshot of the person who brought the bagels. Especially given how she regularly attacks me for being insensitive and self-centered. I think that was what ultimately compelled me to act. Or perhaps it was the rationalization that allowed me not to feel badly about acting. ;)

My first salvo was benign. I used white out tape to make the "now" into a "not". It was noticeable as I used a blue pen and the rest of the sign was bold, black font. I thought it might amuse the repressed peoples of Munchieland. Karma's response was as swift as it was unimaginative. She pulled the whiteout tape off, restoring the sign to its original pristine quality.

Round two was really more like round 1a. I felt my original mockery had not been given a fair shake. So, I used a marker to change to 'w' to a 't'. Again, it was obvious because, well, a 'w' does not convert to a 't' particularly well. But the sentiment was there and it had a certain graffiti-rebellion aspect to it. I was stickin' it to the man. So to speak.

Again she was afforded an opportunity to keep the conflict entertaining or to submit. Again she failed. In fairness, I doubt she even tried. This time, she crossed out "not" and wrote "now" in above it. The sign read as it originally had, but now was a bit defaced.

Well, I could have been childish and just changed it back again. I might have even been able to make it look unchanged while changing it. But I am not that kind of person. I went in a different childish direction! Since the word "now" was offset, it had space on either side of it. Plenty of room to add letters both fore and aft. This, I though, was a more creative escalation. After some editing, the sign now read:
Attention: Bagels are now not known to be banned from Monday Morning Munchies.
Not the "now" cleverly hidden in the new text.

She had to realize at this point that a simple cross-out was not going to get it done. She had to know she needed to take it to the next level. Didn't she? Sadly, no. I searched my mind for other possibilities. Was she just joking around? I suppose I can't dismiss that, although I strongly doubt it. What is funny about banning bagels? Maybe she was trying to pretend she was a petty tyrant for comedic effect. But she defended her stance so seriously. Well, if she was kidding, or even if she wasn't, this was the ideal opportunity to unleash the "just kidding" defense. Laugh at the rest of us over getting worked up over a joke. End of situation.

Which is, of course, why she didn't.

I wandered by around lunch time to see what had transpired. And to get a bagel. Contrary to Karma's belief, these were actually very good bagels. I glanced up and noticed that all the handwritten edits were gone. There was a new and clean sign. It contained the same information as before, plus an education bit.
Attention: Bagels are now banned from Monday Morning Munchies.

Bagels are unhealthy and fattening.

This was a twist I hadn't seen. A justification for the ban. And such a wise and sensible one, too. Especially when you consider that Karma's preferred breakfast choices are brownies, pastries, donuts, and Costco mega-muffins! All of those are far more healthful fare.

I was torn. I could go a few ways now. Do, I help support the ban and further ban any refined foods? I could post new guidelines under her sign. As a plus, it would have good health and social commentary. It would force her to a position she never meant to take or expose her as an idiot. But, it wouldn't be funny. And really, that's what it was all about for me, entertaining the troops. I opted for satire. And mockery, too. I carefully crafted a new sign. I took great pains to get the same font, sizing, and spacing. I wanted to make as few changes to her text as possible in the hopes of going undetected for longer.
Attention: Whining is now banned from Monday Morning Munchies.

Whining is unhealthy and gets on our nerves.

I was pleased. I showed it to a friend who laughed and said I was going too far. That, to me, meant it was just right. I decided to hang it up the next morning since I get in before most of the team. That way, I could do it undetected and get maximum exposure.

Sadly, the next day, her sign had been taken down. Cooler heads had prevailed. My fun was ruined. Or was it? Today's breakfast was a big box of very tasty looking donuts. I've decided to revive the signage. I'll do it tomorrow when nobody's looking. With any luck, they'll think she was at it again.
Attention: Donuts are now banned from Monday Morning Munchies.

Donuts are unhealthy and give me gas.