When in doubt, let it out. Or go scatological. That’s what I was taught in grad skool.
“Gulp” is a big leap forward for Ms. Roach because it doesn’t require her to do any padding or stunt work. Simply thinking about the body and interviewing the most oddball experts she can find are enough to rivet interest. And the circumstances she describes are sometimes hilarious, sometimes repellent, never dull. She’s at her cheeriest in describing rectal smuggling of items into prison, which is a more creative enterprise than you might imagine.
“Should circumstance prevent a man from carrying his cigarettes and cellphone in his pants pocket,” she writes, “the rectum provides a workable alternative.” One inmate earned the nickname “OD,” for Office Depot, by transporting “two boxes of staples, a pencil sharpener, sharpener blades and three jumbo binder rings.” Who but Mary Roach would know how to digest that information?
“OD” for “Office Depot.” I can’t handle it.
The name of the book is Gulp — Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach. The admiring review is by Janet Maslin. Evidently there’s an awful lot of discussion of gas as well. Pretty much this book makes “Readers Digest” a literal expression.
On the subject of gas:
In a… letter accusing him of “conduct unbecoming a federal officer,” [a] Social Security Administration employee was informed that his “uncontrollable flatulence” had created an “intolerable” and “hostile” environment for coworkers, several of whom have lodged complaints with supervisors.
According to the letter of reprimand…the man was first spoken to about his flatulence during a May 18 “performance discussion” with his supervisor. He was informed that fellow employees had complained about his flatulence, and that it was “the reason none of them were willing to assist you with your work.”
The only part of this that puzzles me is the bit about “unbecoming a federal officer.” Of the many Federal employees I’ve had occasion to deal with, passing noxious gas would have been their least offensive and intelligence-insulting action. Anyway.
Two months later, on July 17, a second SSA manager spoke with the man “in regards of your releasing of bodily gas in the module during work hours.” The manager asked the employee if he could “make it to the restroom before releasing the awful and unpleasant odor.” She also recounted what appeared to be a prior conversation during which the worker suggested that he would “turn your fan on when it happens.” The manager recalled advising him that, “turning on the fan would cause the smell to spread and worsen the air quality in the module.”
In the entire system of Federal government, nobody suggested stuffing a cork up this guy’s ass? Really? Isn’t it the first thing you thought of, too?
On August 14, a third administrator–a SSA “Deputy Division Director”–spoke with the worker about his “continuous releasing of your bodily gas and the terrible smell that comes with the gas.” The manager noted that the worker had said he was lactose intolerant and planned to purchase Gas-X, an over-the-counter remedy. The manager informed the employee that he “could not pass gas indefinitely and continue to disrupt the work place.”
I guess when he said this is something he couldn’t do he wasn’t offering a challenge, but if it were me, that’s how I would have taken it. I’d be sitting at my desk drinking whole milk and farting like a rhino, and if my gubmint worker colleagues didn’t like it, they could retire my stinking projectile-fart ass on full disability. What a great way to end a career. I’d insist on a proclamation, too.
After stating that, “It is my belief that you can control this condition,” the author of the reprimand letter then noted, “The following dates show the time of your flatulence.” What followed was a log listing 17 separate dates (and 60 specific times) on which the employee passed gas. For example, the man’s September 19 output included nine instances of flatulence, beginning at 9:45 AM and concluding at 4:30 PM.
Your tax dollars at work. Some Federal employee kept a log of his colleague’s farts. Thank god this valuable conscientious employee hasn’t been sequestered.
The man was also accused of launching a trio of attacks on September 11.
Oh, I see. Now he’s a terrorist, too. Weapons of ass destruction.
Believe it or not, there’s more to this story, and it all stinks. Besides, I’m out of puns. Read it here on The Smoking Gun. Yeah, really. All about Federal farts on The Smoking Gun.”
Pee Ess: Thanks to Mike Tengrain at Crooks & Liars for the link to this post, Obalesque had 946 hits on Thursday 5/9 — quite a bump. I don’t know how or why he found me here, but I deeply appreciate the attention. Thanks!