"Never take a comic strip too lightly. Oh sure, laugh by all means, but don’t dismiss it as not reflecting real life just because it’s a compendium of funny little drawings. Expect apocrypha in the specifics, for that’s part of comic licence, the nature of the beast and so on; but accept that there will invariably be some truth in there somewhere, something that you can relate to your own life…oh, wait, there’s an opening, grab it, grab it, grab it!"
Such were the thoughts that rushed through my mind whilst I was walking down one of the longer corridors in our office today. I was thinking them because I was stuck behind a gentleman who was strolling right in the middle of the traversable stretch at a pace several metres a minute slower than mine, and moving nary an inch to either side that I might squeeze through. I suddenly felt deep and regretful empathy with poor Dilbert, who found himself in just such a predicament in one of the strips I recently saw, and was forced – in an example of the comic licence mentioned earlier – to sail over the heads of his tormentors.
What with all the other badnesses that occur daily in office, this may seem a trivial thing to complain about. But it really is very difficult to deal with if you’re a brisk walker and disinclined to expel energy on a very loud "excuse me" (it has to be very loud, because people who walk in front of you at a slow pace in narrow corridors also always happen to be deaf) or elbow someone out of the way. And heaven forbid if it’s two people talking away merrily in front of you – then you may as well just retrace your steps and find another path to the tea machine, or the loo, or the accountant’s cave, or the suicide chamber, or wherever else you were going.
When I first saw that Dilbert comic in the office library while pretending to scan the Economic Times for story ideas, I chuckled patronisingly. "Funny, yes," I said, scaring a bureau reporter who was trying to sneak a look at the ET front page from beneath my elbow, "but is it true to life? Can such a thing ever actually occur in an office corridor?"
Well, now I know it is and can, and I bow to Scott Adams. He is one of the great seers of our age, or of any other age that has had offices with cubicles and cabins and corridors and I shall show my respect by embarking anon on a Dilbert anthology-collecting spree. (Well, not really anon because I’ve just spent a wallet-burning sum on the new Philip Roth -- which Shougat, being even poorer than me, then promptly mooched -- and cannot buy another book for several weeks, or at least two.)