Friday, February 4, 2011

Gas Leaks and the Workplace

Today, I will tackle an age old question...It has confounded men from Neanderthal mammoth hunts to modern day offices.  It is a matter of great contention, and the stakes have never been higher.  If you assume wrong, you risk castigation by your peers, extreme discomfort, and much worse.  The ever important, two pronged question of which I write is of course, "Is it okay to pass gas at work, and if so, under what circumstances?"

Like with anything else, there are trade offs to any decision made, so broadly formed rules ought be avoided.  For example, if you decide to abstain from flatulence completely, you risk pain, and possibly spontaneous combustion.  On the other hand, if you wantonly rip air biscuits, you will gain an (admittedly well deserved) awful reputation.  As such, I'll break down situations when it is okay to rip arse and times when it's better to just hold it in.

Situation 1:  You are talking to a coworker.  Absolutely no farting is allowed here unless you're talking to a coworker of the same sex in the break room and you need to deter them from going to the vending machine so you get first pick of the various candy choices.

Situation 2:  You are alone at your cubicle.  Here, it is acceptable to fart if you KNOW it will be silent.  A vicious cheek flapper can echo in a cluster of cubicles, and anyone around you is sure to know.  While they may not immediately be able to pinpoint the source, a fart is like an earthquake in that it's not too difficult to pinpoint the epicenter.  However, notice I did not say, "Here, it is acceptable to fart IFF you KNOW it will be silent."  Just because you are certain of the prospects of an SBD, you must exercise care and discretion.  For example, if there is a chance that someone will come to your desk to ask you a computer question before the noxious cloud would have time to dissipate, you should probably hold it in.  However, if you have already dropped a bomb, and someone comes to ask a question, smoothly suggest that you show them how to do it at their computer, and lead them away from the zone of doom.

Situation 3:  You are walking in the stairwell.  Bombs away!  You've got the perfect escape route (the door on any floor) if someone is coming, and you can usually get away without being seen.  Further, the only chance that someone will suffer from your eruption is if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Maybe it's callous, but if someone happens to be that unlucky, maybe it's just their time.  There's no sense in trying to defy fate.

Situation 4:  You are in the elevator.  If you fart, you are likely to be convicted.  It's hard to fathom a situation in which you get off an elevator that you've fumigated, and the person taking your place doesn't shortly thereafter associate your face with poop smell.  However, it's so delightfully cliche that I cannot condemn anyone for a little gas leak.  Note that I am NOT arguing that you should fart here...just that I wouldn't be offended if someone did.

Situation 5:  You are talking to your boss in his or her office.  This one depends on the tone of the discussion and your feeling on your boss.  Sometimes the best way to express disagreement or frustration is nonverbal, if you catch my drift (pun highly intended).  If you bake brownies in your boss's office, be sure that it is not around performance evaluation season.  The last thing you want in your employee file is that you did a "crappy job" a couple of days ago.

Situation 6:  You haven't yet taken the Browns to the Super Bowl that day.  Here you have to be careful, and the reasons are twofold:  1. You risk a severe odor, as the gas propulsion will be off the face of a turd, and 2. For the sake of your career, you MUST avoid a work shart at all costs.  If you leave skidmarks at work, you will have to find a new job, and you can basically count on the fact that you won't get glowing recommendations from your prior management in your new job search.

Situation 7:  The final situation that I will cover in this post is the walkin' farts...crop dusting, if you will.  I say, "Them crops need to be dusted."  In a busy office, there are generally many people walking around.  It is nearly impossible to determine the culprit in this case.  Sure, coworkers can have suspicions, but they'll never really know who it was.  Furthermore, if they confront an innocent walker, the person will deny it, and more often than not, they'll be adamant (overly so).  Thus, you can usually trick your coworkers into blaming that person for the nasal assault that you unleashed with no effort or acting on your part whatsoever.

I've just run through the most common situations you are likely to encounter, but this list is by no means exhaustive.  If you have another situation, and you would like clarification on etiquette, please list that scenario (in detail) in the comments section, and I will address it when I get a chance.  I hope this helped guide you through some sticky situations.


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