A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To the Eclipse …

Eclipse

Okay, not really.

But I’m not one to waste a good title, especially one that just pops into my head for no reason while I’m driving home.  It was like manna from Heaven, or a tax refund.

Now comes the hard part.  I have to hang some sort of blog post on that puppy.

Okay … the eclipse.   Let’s jump on board this hype train and see where it takes us, shall we?

I was in an interminable meeting as the time for the eclipse drew close.  I was just about to see if I could commit seppuku with a white board marker when someone in the room suggested we end the meeting and go outside and look up at the sun.   That room cleared out quicker than the bridge of the S.S. Valdez during happy hour.  I found myself alone in the conference room still trying how to figure out how to get the cap off of the white board marker.  I quickly surmised that ritual seppuku with a blue white board marker (completely dry now for at least 6 months but left in the conference room as a sort of homage to the deceased marker) would no longer be necessary.

I was going to go back to my office and sink my teeth into a particular zesty pivot table I’d been working on, but instead I found myself caught up in a stream of people making their way towards the elevator and onwards to the parking lot.  If only we could exit the building this efficiently during a fire drill!

Once in the parking lot, I found myself with a group of coworkers discussing the protocol for staring at an eclipse.  No one got the special eclipse glasses.  No one brought paper to make a pinhole in.  No one even had sunglasses.  Everyone looked at me as if seeking guidance.  I’m not sure if that was because I am purportedly an engineer, or if it was because I was the eldest.  Sometimes being the eldest sucks.   No, I take that back.  Being the eldest ALWAYS sucks.

I tried to think back to everything I’d been hearing on the TV for the past month.  The problem is, I always zone out when the TV is on.  It is a protection mechanism.  It is either zone out or throw a vase through the television.  And have you priced televisions lately?  Or vases, for that matter.

“I remember them saying something about staring up at the sun,” I said to the group of 20-somethings who were staring at me agog.  I felt like I should be sitting on a mountaintop and holding a wooden staff.

“So we should stare up at the sun?” said the hipster from the purchasing department.

I stared at him a moment, trying to recall exactly what I’d heard … or rather, NOT heard on TV.  “Ummm …. mayybbbeeeee,” I said uncertainly.    “Let’s try that, shall we?”

[Two seconds later … ]

“Okay, okay,” I said as we all rubbed our eyes and made large, slow blinks at the ground.  “Probably not the best idea.  And, in retrospect, I do remember a Dick and Jane story when I was in the 2nd grade in which Dick warned Sally against staring up at the sun, even though it was smiling and winking at the time.”

They stared at me blankly (a few with still-watering eyes).

“Who are Dick and Jane?” asked Kim from Contracts.

I stared at her, a little non-plussed (my eyes also watering a little).  “Who … are Dick and Jane?” I asked incredulously.

“Are they that couple in sales?” asked Kip, from Business Development.

“Ohh,” ooohed Jane from Legal.   “I like them.  They are such a cute couple.”

“Um, no,” I said, feeling that the situation was getting a little out of hand.  I can understand why those chaps on the tops of mountains always look like they’re a thousand years old.  “They’re not the couple in Sales.”

“I’m pretty sure they are,” Kip said through his Captain Obvious beard, a Starbucks swilling hipster if ever there was one.  “I was just talking to them this morning in the break room.  We were faux fighting over the last kale bar.”

“Of course you were,” I said.

“People,” said Nancy from Supplier Management, raising both her hands in a placating manner.  “I feel we are getting off topic.  Biff was telling us that Dick from Sales recommends not staring at the sun.”

“No,” I said.  “That’s not what I was saying.”

“So we SHOULD stare at the sun?”

I sighed and addressed the restive crowd.   “Did staring at the sun a few minutes ago teach us nothing?   What would all of our rigourously proscribed corporate on-line training modules teach us in a moment like this?”

There was some murmuring as they pondered my question.

“That we should attempt to quantify the risk and develop a mitigation plan?” came a voice from the back.

“That we should form a committee of diverse voices and map skills to needs?”

“That we should perform a gap analysis of resources?”

“That we should apply six sigma concepts to the problem, perhaps in the form of a fishbone diagram?”

“Ooh … ooh!” came an excited voice.  “We should create a scatter diagram and determine a confidence interval!”

I snapped my fingers and stared excitedly at the scatter diagram suggester.  “Yes!  Precisely!  A scatter diagram!”

“We’ll need a whiteboard,” said Tammy from Tax Accounting.

“No,” I said. “We just need to look down.”

“Look down?” asked the murmering crowd.

“Yes!”   I pointed to the ground underneath the tree we were standing beneath.  There, at our feet, were thousands of shimmering, blinking dapples of light as they filtered through the leaves of the tree.  Each one of them was a miniature half-moon shaped image of the eclipse.

We stared at the ground for a bit and then shuffled back into the building.

Eclipses were not all they were cracked up to be.

 

 

9 comments

  1. you captured it, Biff! I was handed a task at 830 that would require being inside a windowless lab for a couple hours. I was curious – took a few minutes to- people-watch. Engineers agog —- I mentioned about 40 years back being more enthused you would have thought I said 40 thousand by the mystified looks…

    Liked by 1 person

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