based on a real incident
People stood watching over the cubicle walls
Nervous and startled and lifted
from the tedium of scribing NorTel documentation.
Three Security guards led him
through our rat maze
for the elevator and out of the building for help.
His nervous breakdown blossomed
from two days of muttering at his desk
past full volume yelling this morning and
Papers from his desk hurled up
Like spume hitting the shore rocks
and trying to fly
Jealous of the gulls,
wanting to be the sky,
hating the ocean,
losing, falling back in step.
I remembered his eyes
as we had passed
in the narrow hallways
of the cubicle maze.
All at once looking at me,
looking through me,
afraid of me,
then hating me,
then looking down to the grey industrial carpet
that would never wear out.
I recalled the women who worked near him retreated,
afraid to be victimized in his firestorm.
The manager trying to settle him
suddenly become a factor of zero.
The rage felt good.
That fire just warmed his heart.
The next day the manager asked me
to take over the man’s project assignment.
Three strikes: short deadline,
no work done, and an unfamiliar writing system.
I quit and went home
wondering where he was
and what manufactured calm
they had injected.
What had happened to his sputtering rage.
All the way gone.
All the way escaped.