The George Explosion
1. It starts small
The potted plant in the lobby is missing half its leaves. Five of the six employees smoking in the designated area, walled off from the rest of the ground floor by translucent plastic walls, are named George. They stand in a rough circle, directly underneath the vent. There are chairs along the walls, but no one sits. Marigold sunlight, streaming through the exterior windows and double doors, hits the plastic and jaundices everyone inside. Outside the smoker cube, the lobby is busy, filled with employees rushing at a breakneck pace. Everyone wear beige slacks and a baby blue dress shirt. Folders, packages and binders change hands, presentations are discussed, and gossip exchanged. One or two of the employees is snacking on vending machine spoils.
The odd-man out, Allen—odd despite conforming to the dress code—is pretending to smoke a tube of Rolos, the chocolate candies with a caramel center. Rolos are squat and cylindrical, but the top face being smaller than the bottom face gives them a trapezoidal profile. Allen slowly unwraps the foil, eating each Rolo in turn as the Georges’ cigarettes burn down to the filters.
Occasionally a George will ask him for a Rolo, at which point Allen will pull one of the extra tubes from his breast pocket and distribute candy as appropriate. The George who asked will take a moment to ash his cigarette and slowly chew the proffered Rolo. The Georges will grunt, acknowledging Allen’s politeness, and all will resume as before.