M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, August 16, 2002  

One of the personal items at my desk at work is a "Zen Rock Garden" kit. Maybe you've seen these things in the store or at some of your coworkers' desks. Basically, it's a little 6" x 10" wooden tray, with some rocks, a funny little rake, a slim volume about rock gardening, and some white sand. I'm fine with everything except the last part.

Trash and I got it for Christmas, and she sent it to work with me to put on my desk. It wasn't going to her office because she has a little Zen fountain there already, and it wasn't staying in our house because we already have two catboxes to scoop out, thank you very much.

So this box was under my desk for a month or so with the shrink-wrapping still intact. At some point, the women in my office started noticing it.

"When are you going to open your Zen Rock Garden?" my boss asked.

"I don't know," I answered distractedly.

"When are you going to open your Zen Rock Garden?" asked T. Rex, one of the managers.

"I have to figure out where to put it first," I said.

"When are you going to open your Zen Rock Garden?" asked the other manager.

"You know, I hadn’t thought about it," I said straightfaced.

It quickly became apparent that this shrink-wrapped box was like catnip to these people. Apparently it had become a whole topic for speculation in our department. I am many things, but a topic for speculation is not one of them.

I got back from lunch one day, and T. Rex was there. "Can I open your Zen Rock Garden?" she asked.

I don't like people messing with my stuff at work. It's probably because I sit at a desk (5/20) that has to be staffed all the time, even when I'm gone, so other people have to spend time here. I understand that, but it just makes me more protective of my space. Don't move the reference sheets I have hung up. Don't change my computer wallpaper. And don't even think about adjusting my chair unless you want to be the target of a multi-agency statewide manhunt. T. Rex has been known to ignore all of the above rules because she knows it makes me crazy. Also because she knows she’s one of the few people who can do it and survive.

But I decided it was time to stop putting off the Zen Rock Garden, for its own protection. "I'll open it today," I promised.

A bit later, I broke the seal on the shrink-wrap. A tiny puff of dust escaped. Made sense, I figured. There's sand in there. Obviously some of it is fine enough that it escaped the hermetically sealed plastic bag in which it was packaged.

Have I mentioned that I'm an idiot?

I got the rest of the shrink-wrapping off, and about a quarter-teaspoon of sand spilled onto my desk. Now I was nervous.

I started trying to pull things out of the cardboard sleeve, but a gritty hiss from within cautioned me. I slid the book out, and more sand spilled.

By the time I figured out where the tray was, the thing was starting to look like a prop from The Mummy (1999). It occurred to me that the good people at Acme Zen Rock Garden Company appeared to have dumped the sand in there loose, like two scoops into a package of Kellogg's Raisin Bran.

Actually, the sand was in fact intended to be contained in a plastic bag, as I was able to ascertain once I’d succeeded in digging to the bottom of the small dune that had formed on my desk. Except there was a hole in the bag. A hole through which nearly all of the sand had escaped into the package, and thence to the surface of my desk. As for the bag, it now contained the ideal amount of sand for seasoning pudding.

I did manage to salvage a lot of the sand and get it into the tray; there's enough to cover the bottom. But now my desk was all gritty, I had to take my shoes off and dump them out like I’d just been walking on a beach, and there was even a grain stuck between two of my teeth. To this day, the mouse on the computer closest to the rock garden doesn’t slide across the worksurface so much as grind across it.

I finally got the thing situated on my desk and plunked the rocks randomly into it. I know I did it wrong, but I don't care. Okay, that's a lie. I do care. I kept the book so I could look at it later and figure out how to fix what I did wrong. This rock gardening shit is hard, man. If T. Rex hadn’t stepped in and figured it out, it would still look like ass.

For something that's supposed to relax me, it's not freaking working.

posted by M. Giant 3:27 PM 0 comments


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