Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Rubberband, man. 

I'm sure that, at some point in your life, you've shot a rubberband at someone or something. You've possibly even manufactured or purchased a device to shoot rubberbands fast and hard and without potential injury to your fingertips. You may have even been involved in a full-scale rubberband battle. You probably know what kind of stinging death a well-placed rubberband can bring. I myself am quite familiar with the pain. I am a veteran of one of the most protracted rubberband wars in recorded history.

For roughly 3 years of my life, I worked at the Gazette, which is the major newspaper here in town...There's also a little weekly rag, that thinks it's a newspaper...They're so cute when they're so little...But anyway, working at the Gazette was a great opportunity for me, considering I had been just getting by working at a screen printing house and at a couple radio stations...The gazette was a real job with benefits and good pay. And I was going to be doing what I enjoyed...Advertising design.

I'll probably tell more gazette-related stories at another point in time, but this story is specifically about rubberbands. Around me, anything can be a projectile or a weapon. I have the attention span of a gnat and enjoy distracting and annoying my coworkers. It's not constant, but the potential is always there. Either way, this is how the great rubberband war began.

I would usually shoot rubberbands at folks who were just walking by, or who were feverishly working away. One of my main targets for rubberbands was Collin, mostly because he would fight back. Collin and I have worked together now for 7 years. He worked his way up to the Advertising Art Department at the gazette from the composing room. I eventually became his supervisor before I departed for the ad agency I currently work for and I was able to convince my new supervisor that she should hire Collin. It took a couple tries, but Collin was liberated from the crushing black death-abyss that was the Gazette.

Anyway, Collin and I would shoot rubberbands. We would also play beach ball hockey, beach ball volleyball, duck the bagel, avoid the crushed soda can or whatever game kept us from going insane working the night shift. I believe in a good balance of hard work and fun breaks. Without fun breaks, you'd go nuts at work, especially doing what we do. All the other nightshifters joined in the fun and nobody seemed disdainful, with the exception of jeannine who once tore apart a football with her bare hamhocks because it entered her 'atmosphere' and LET ME TELL YOU she had a lot of atmosphere.

Over time, the rubberband retribution came to be more like a sniper attack or a black ops mission than a friendly game. Revenge would come from nowhere, when you least expected it. eyes were not off limits. Blind-Side assaults happened with increasing frequency and point blank attacks were now commonplace. It was about this time that I decided the rubberbands from the supply closet just weren't cutting the mustard. I purchased a nice, large bag containing over 1,000 very heavy-duty rubberbands. I was loaded for bear. or whatever.

At one point, collin hit me in my left eye as I was getting up from my desk...As I was holding my eye, writhing in obvious pain, he hit my unattended (right) eye. I've never heard someone laugh so sadistically. I responded to this assault by walking straight to his desk a half-hour later, placing the rubberband on his forehead, drawing it back and letting it go. The point-blankest of point-blank shots. It left a welt on his forehead for hours. A welt I fondly referred to as 'the mark of the beast.'

And this is basically how events unfolded for a number of weeks. Every moment held the potential for attack. One evening, Collin was helping out a coworker with a project, his back facing me. I swiveled around in my chair, grabbed a thick rubberband, drew it back, sighted it and everything went black.

I felt a searing pain in my left eye when I came to. I was lying on the floor, my swivel chair about 5 feet away. I could barely see and my head was throbbing. The fat-ass rubberband that was meant for Collin broke before I could fire. It snapped back and hit me square in my left eye, knocking me out of my chair and causing me to momentarily lose consciousness.

For anyone who's read this far and is now thinking to themselves "What a wuss," let me explain. I was once hit in the head with a point-blank slapshot while playing hockey. It cut me to the bone, requiring 36 stitches. I didn't lose consciousness, nor did that knock me over. This did. This was awful. This was worse than being hit with a brick. If you don't believe me, try it for yourself. The surprise factor alone would've been enough to floor me, let alone the crushing impact.

As I struggled to my feet, work stopped in our department. Everyone stared at me like I were some freakish side show act. They stared the kind of stare that's a little bit concern, but mostly "I told you so, you little asshole...you finally got what you deserved." At least the cleaning crew would be happy. There would be no more rubberbands to clean up. A little blood and some human eye-tissue,yes but surely no more rubberbands. There would have to be a truce, much like in World War II, when the Japanese saw the devastation that could be visited upon them. I had to concede after experiencing the worst that a rubberband could dish out. That rubberband was my Hiroshima.

That rubberband hurt like a son of a bitch.

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