Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We sat in genteel postures around the conference room table. We had the Avenue of the Americas up and down outside and 52nd Street from side to side. There was something on the screen, a spreadsheet or a slide. There was text, and maybe numbers, too. We spoke, mindful to employ the syntax of white-collar politesse, with its tortured, passive-aggressive locutions.

Suddenly an electrical worker barged in, stood near the foot of the table, and fiddled with the wiring in the center power module. He was utterly oblivious to us or to the facts and figures now projected on his navy jacket. He appeared to be operating within another dimension, a figure from dreams or myth. The very molecules of his being may well have been vibrating in and out of reality at a different frequency than ours and it seemed entirely possible that we were invisible to him.

Protocol dictated that the owner of the meeting acknowledge the curious disruption with a disfluency of her choice followed by a clearing of the throat and, optionally, a smile accompanied by a goofy widening of the eyes, and she obliged.

The worker held a device of some kind, wires dangling. He probed the depths of the table with sensors and scrutinized the readout screen. Once satisfied, he left the room without a word or so much as a glance.