The Twilight Zone
“Jesus Christ! Can’t a man even read a book in peace while he’s supposed to be working?”
–Me, last night
Right. First, you know how, when relating a story, you leave out details in order to simplify the narrative? The seemingly unimportant parts get left out so as not to distract the (in this case) reader with such details that aren’t part of the main point.
But later, as more story unfolds, you realize that some of those details were important after all.
Ok. Here we go.
I found out about the car accident because the Squidgate juror wound up filling in for another person at work. Basically, I showed up at work expecting to be relieving a different person, but it was the Squidgate juror instead. She sometimes works for the company I do when they need someone (and in fact I got the job by her telling me who to contact).
That was late Friday night. The gas problem (at the same location) was earlier Thursday evening. Right?
Wrong. That place is still leaking natural gas, the problem had nothing to do with the other work going on at all. A malfunctioning heating unit, I am told. Being worked on, I am told. Will be fixed, I am told. But not told that on Thursday. In fact until after midnight Sunday into Monday after trying to reach someone several hours earlier.
The person I relieved today said he was coughing all day and didn’t know why. Likely the gas they mixed with the natural gas, possibly for the same reasons it burned my eyes, instead burned his throat. Designed to do that, to alert us to the odorless, colorless stuff being present.
But two or three more layers of onion become apparent. A: to induce panic (what will it take? I’ve been on an airplane that I fully expected to make a very hard landing, and yet no panic. Give it up already); B: similarly, call someone (you know, like the folks who can’t or won’t catch the Brooklyn arsonist of 12/23/09); C: where either A or B could lead, to get me fired. Ironically, not panicking enough, or rather being too cool about the whole thing could do that as well.
I’m so used to the idea of employment being temporary now that I don’t consider obvious options like those. However, coupled with the electronic harassment, those other things I laid out previously still stand. Getting someone fired (or otherwise removed from a job–again) is another form of harassment, and continued harassment has a purpose.
But the point is about balance. Over-react, there is danger. Under-react, there is danger. Striking the right chord, not always easy.
The same man who thanked me on Thursday night for calling him about “A very dangerous situation” was singing an entirely different tune this evening having been awakened by my relief on the phone (I had called someone else, left a message, awaited his return call that didn’t come). He was shouting and cursing at my relief. When he showed up (I waited to help him clear things up) he stated it was not dangerous, contradicting himself from two nights prior.
In other words, he went from his inner voice saying “Danger!” to “Everything is fine.” Voice-to-skull or just even alterations in brain chemistry can alter our perceptions of events. How we feel affects what we think. These people could be out of work for an extended period of time, or might be in the building (they are in now and again during the day) when the thing decides to go kablooey. The gas was thick, I assure you, though by the time they arrived I had doors open to air the place out.
Additionally, one of the maintenance crew told the Squidgate juror to smoke inside the building during her shift the other night, offering her some comfort instead of having to step outside.
Got that? He told her, while there is natural gas billowing up around the building (because clearly the problem, being present on Thursday and still Saturday, was logically also there on Friday, right?) to smoke inside it.
I’m reasonably certain he was unconscious of the connection. I am merely showing how puppet theater involving multiple puppets can lead to explosive results.
Like I said, I thought that the gas issue was done, over with, Thursday. I walked around and again got the smell, the burning eyes, but in a different location. I thought maybe natural gas, being heavier than air (it is, right?) it might be rising up from the basement. So I slowly descended and, no odor there, and found an undated work order tag stating that there was a gas leak. I only found out that it was no longer applicable (they had repaired what the tag referred to some months ago) because I asked the guy about it when he showed up. From seeing that, it appeared as though, even creepier than the sudden change of mind and suggestion to smoke inside, that they knew they had a leak and did nothing about it (speaking of metaphors). Why leave a sign saying “Natural Gas Leak”? The pipe it hung off of was disconnected, he said. Why hadn’t they removed the tag? Weird.
And both the suggestion to go into the basement (where I found the tag that appeared to be evidence of a known problem they did not bother to share and seemed in no hurry to fix) and to make a call came from V2K. Really. They did.
This is how I get to live life. Remote kibbitzers, electronic backseat drivers. Ignore them, and they are still affecting your behavior unless you can do so to the point of doing what you would normally do anyway.
But then it’s like people knowing they are on camera. They behave differently, cannot help but do so, when they know that they are.
How do you ignore someone butting into your head all of the time? Not easy, maybe impossible. But you can obviously ignore the stupider things they suggest. For the rest, how do you know, once having been interrupted in thinking (or worse, having had it suggested subliminally) exactly what you would do normally? You never had the chance to decide (or rather for consciousness to be told what was about to happen; decisions on action typically come from the unconscious and it informs consciousness later) because you were interrupted before you could figure out what that might be.
And of course all of this nonsense happens mere doorsteps away from DHS. But then so is the rest of the s*** I’ve been talking about all over the country.
And there’s another onion layer: distract.