Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Meeting

The meeting was innocuous enough; seven men who spent most of their work days surfing the internet, had gathered around a table to tell their manager how hard they had been working, and to reassure him that they were focused members of the project team.

Six of the men sat with straight backs and poised pens, but one of them, Mark, did not. Mark sat slouched back in his chair, his right foot resting on his left knee, and his arms crossed over his chest.

He despised his colleague’s pretence, the false way they accounted for their time, but he had already decided that he would join in their fiction. He would lie about the quantity of work he had completed in the past week, and he would build on his workmates stories of diligence and professionalism.

As Mark’s turn to speak drew near, his right foot, the one suspended by his left knee, began to jiggle. He wasn’t aware of it at first, but, when he looked down and saw it, he perceived his discomfort was the phantom controlling it.

His foot moved rapidly but he did not try to stop it. He thought someone might remark on it, might ask him if he knew that it signalled a desire to run. If they asked him this, he would say “Yes,” and he would demonstrate his desire by running out the door, out of the building, down the busy city streets, on and on, faster and faster, until, at last, he would reach the ocean’s edge and he would plunge himself into its cleansing waters.

But the foot went unremarked.