Being an adult is a really difficult affair. Because being an adult means that you have to be mature and tolerant to some things. Like farts in a meeting.
You and the rest of the staff are seated around a table, or tables, in a meeting that should have just been a quick WhatsApp text. You are listening to Alice from Accounts drone on and on about things that are absolutely none of your concern. Si she could have just talked about it with the concerned party in her office? You can see David, the arrogant bastard who licks the boss’ arse as a strategy to be promoted to Assistant Manager, hanging onto her every word. He is definitely pretending to be attentive because the boss is seated 2 people away from him. You are praying that he doesn’t ask pointless questions at the end of the meeting when the boss asks, “Any questions?” Tom the IT guy looks hungover. The buttons on his shirt are mismatched, and it is the same shirt he wore yesterday. He is dozing off. Sharon from HR is studying her frightening neon green nails while tapping her pen on the table absentmindedly. Everyone else is either sighing loudly or staring at the walls opposite them.
Then someone decides to make things interesting by passing gas. Someone breaks wind. Someone farts. Like a remorseless monster, someone silently lets vicious air from their bloated innards flare out into the calm assortment of bored, civilised people in the room.
And because you are all adults who have to handle everything in sobriety and maturity, you all pretend that the air has not been polluted. You all pretend that your sense of smell is impaired. As the air in the room becomes more poisonous, as you slowly start to feel as if you are trapped in an exhaust pipe of a diarrhoea factory, someone lets out a small, forced cough. Another person fidgets nervously in their chair. Another one looks around awkwardly as if to see if anyone else can smell the atrocity in the air. Another one cleverly blocks their nostrils by pretending that they are scratching an itch at the bridge of their nose. A few fan themselves with the papers or notebooks that they carried to the meeting, pretending that they are just sweltering in the mid-morning heat. I mean, you are all adults, and adults are pretenders.
The situation becomes dire. The room now has 5% oxygen and 95% the malodorous stench of a septic tank. The room has only one small window, located behind Alice, who is struggling to finish her presentation, acting like she is not extremely disturbed by the mephitic smog that has engulfed the small population in the room. No one wants to be the one to walk to the window and open it. But in all that redolence, you are all strong. Someone clears their throat. Another one is quietly experiencing an unhealthy amount of anxiety. You all avoid eye contact.
People are now simmering in the foul odour of the farter’s transgression. You want to mumble something passive-aggressively and sarcastically, just loud enough for the person seated next to you to hear, but you don’t want to be the one to start an unrest. I mean, the boss is here, and do you see the way she is looking at all of you, unbothered by the funk, as if waiting for someone to make a slight mistake, even if it’s just a natural reflex reaction to bad smell? What if you lose your job? What if she is the one who’s farted, and this is just a team building exercise of sorts?
Your nostrils are scorched, with anger and surprise caught in your throats. Eyes fearfully dart to see if they can spot the guilty farter. The awfulness of the Satanic stink from the rotten intestines of the farter starts to fester rifts and depletes trust between colleagues like an evil spirit. Everyone is looking at everyone suspiciously. And by the time Alice has finished yammering about and the meeting is adjourned, some people have passed out, others have suffered brain damage, and others have barely managed to stagger outside the contaminated room while clutching onto their chests for dear life.
And then you will all discuss that fart with whomever it is in the office that you talk to. You will probably blame it on the person you hate most. And then the next day you will all go to another meeting, and you will all sit there again as if people didn’t die from a fart in the last meeting.
This business of being a calm, collected and composed adult, ai, I don’t want. I refuse to be oppressed in my own country.
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