There are days when I don’t want it. No talking, no reminders from you, please, of the world and its needs. And of course I mean the people at work. I’ve grown fond of saying it: some mornings are a bad dog. They turn their whole bodies away from you, but look up and sideways at you, wondering if you’ve noticed that they shit on your rug and how will you react and please try not to think about the fact that you know I will shit on your rug again soon.
But some mornings it’s just you. Or me. You know this routine: No big deal. You’re not angry, not upset. Just a little extra tired and really don’t want to spare any energy for anything pressing. You just kind of don’t feel up to it. Let me slink in here, have my coffee, and stare so intently at the computer that anyone who sees me will think I am too absorbed in something to be bothered.
Except the world is full of people who don’t care. Or really don’t notice. They’re the most endearing people in the world when you’re not in “don’t bodda me” mode, but they’re also the people who will start jawing at you about meaningless work-related garbage the moment you bite into your sandwich on your lunch break. And even though you never once glance in their direction or nod or grunt or do anything to indicate that you are paying attention, they just keep on staring at the side of your head and talking to you.
Some mornings are a bad dog.
I am peeling flakes of cheese from my fingers this morning. Last night saw me putting a layer of polyurethane over our new floors. We’ve been staring at them for weeks, thinking but not saying that they are already starting to look dull and boring and that we are afraid to spill anything anywhere near them. They have no protection. The company who sold us the wood and the people who installed it both strongly recommended a few deep coats of tung oil to finish them, and nothing else. We acquiesced to their expertise. Tung oil does not protect. It makes the color wonderful and rich, but it does not protect. And all the while we assumed that these people all know what they are doing, they know this product, and they know what should be used upon it.
We eventually disagreed. I went down to the old True Value – let’s go down a small rabbit hole: I do not bemoan the (ooooh, dreaded) BIG BOX STORE. Home Depot has a ton of everything, wide aisles, and good prices. But beyond knowing where to find something, their employees don’t seem to know much about home improvement and maintenance products. The folks at True Value – and I suppose I can only speak for the one near our house – know a great deal about the items in the store, home maintenance in general, when to use what tool and where, etc. They are what everyone in a store should be: Subject matter experts in the products that they sell. Naturally, this is probably where the cantankerous rant is supposed to go, the one that gets me traffic, where I pine for the good old days when stores like my True Value were the norm and not the exception and everyone knew how to make a wagon wheel out of barrel staves and we didn’t have societal evils like purchasing power dumbing down the employment pool. Or something. I don’t do that. If you think somehow that idiocy, lethargy, and generally unhelpful people are uniquely modern problems because in the time before nail guns everyone was ubermensch, then you should probably get a job at Home Depot.
Back on the floor, and the place where I do critique modern times just a bit. The only guess I have as to why a protective floor coating was NEVER ONCE mentioned to us by two different companies is this: The green movement. It’s all about VOCs, baby. Volatile Organic Compounds. Which is a nice term to hold up as villainous, because it is bad and has the word organic in it. I would have sworn from the last 10 years of social hogwashing I have received that nothing organic is bad in any way. It was probably the non-fair-trade coffee that did in old Socrates, and not the organic hemlock.
My assumption is that these companies have too much of a green reputation to protect to promote anything that every bourgeois housewife knows causes brain cancer and is, you know, like really, really stinky. It would be corporate suicide. But the True Value guy knows a thing or two, and this is why I am peeling cheese from my fingers this morning. He pointed us to a floor poly that is whey based. Yup, cheese by-product. Some folks at the University of Virginia found it out, and they made a poly that goes on ridiculously easily, is as durable as anything else, has about the same VOC levels as a double shot of Jameson, and dries in two friggin hours. No smell, no leaving the house for two days to let the devil fumes clear. I put down a coat last night on the hall floor, and then slept in the bedroom right next to it with the door open. I’m hoping to get the last two coats on tonight.
But I won’t be spreading it on a cracker any time soon.