Images for a Monday

What do you say when you walk into a vacant office at work, and find one of your coworkers hula-hooping inside?

This is the question I had to ask myself last week. We have a training room down the hall that’s rarely used, so people will occasionally duck in to make a personal phone call or steal a quiet moment of reflection. I needed to retrieve some training materials from the room, and opened the door to find a female employee gyrating in what she thought was privacy. We were both startled.

“Oh, uh, sorry,” I said lamely, though I wasn’t at all certain what I was sorry for, considering it was she who was doing the hooping.

“That’s okay,” she said. “I’m almost done.”

Incredibly, I believe she continued the exercise, though I had to look away (at least one of us had to be embarrassed) so I’m not sure.

I’m fine with people using the hula-hoop in a playground, a school yard, or even on their front lawn. And they don’t necessarily have to be kids, either. I’m open-minded enough to realize that there may be full-grown adults among us who also like to hula-hoop, as is their God-given right.

But there’s a time and a place for everything. And I’m not sure swinging your hips wildly while trying to keep a circular piece of plastic from inching to the ground is the right thing to be doing at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, standing between a whiteboard and an overhead projector at the office.

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A handmade roadside sign not far from my house advertises autumn lawn services. It’s a simple sign, containing the word “AERATION” in large type, a phone number, and in both the upper left and upper right corners, there’s an ichthys, more commonly known as a “Jesus fish.”

Certain businesses, especially here in the South, find it advantageous to advertise to potential customers that their belief in Christ will make them a more reliable plumber, contractor, gutter-cleaner, dog-walker, or whatever. So they include the outline of a fish in their ads.

I can see how many of the qualities espoused by the Christian church are valuable not only in the spiritual world but also in the world of commerce. Though, personally, I’d want to see a solid list of references rather than simply have a strong faith that they’re going to eventually return with my dog.

Aeration, as I understand it, is the process of gouging holes into the soil so that grass planted in the fall will grow better in the spring. I’m not sure how Christian aeration is different. Perhaps the lawn tractor is consecrated before the work begins. Maybe a holy chalice is used as a poking instrument. I certainly hope they don’t use the same post hole digger as is used to implant a cross, as I think grass seed needs only an inch or two.

I considered calling to ask for more details, but I can’t remember any of the phone number except the last four numbers, which spelled out the word “LIME”. My familiarity with the Bible is a little sketchy these days, though I do seem to recall that Christ’s favorite mixed drink was gin and tonic, so perhaps that’s the point of the lime reference.

In any event, in case it makes you think better of me as a blogger, consider this:

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They just put out the sign-up sheet at work for our annual Thanksgiving luncheon. Each year, on the Friday before the big holiday, management provides a turkey (fitting, somehow) and everybody else registers to bring a side dish.

I signed up for bagels. Do you think that’s kosher for Thanksgiving?

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Though I’m not much of a photographer, I understand the importance of adding a visual element to my posts. So when I wrote a piece last Wednesday about U-Scan self-checkout machines at the grocery store, I knew I’d need a picture.

I had a feeling, however, that taking photos in the supermarket is something you don’t do. Think about it: when was the last time you saw a group posing for a family portrait in the frozen-food aisle? Is it because most people don’t think it’s a nice enough setting, or is it that these large grocery chains have a corporate policy against still photography in their stores?

I didn’t want any trouble, but I felt I needed a picture of the machine I was writing about. So I’d have to shoot something surreptitiously.

I felt like every store employee had their eye on me as I maneuvered into position to take my shot. CIA agents doing reconnaissance work in Afghanistan aren’t as nervous as I was. I pulled the small digital camera out of my jacket, aiming in the general direction of my subject. I couldn’t afford to be concerned about framing or composition; holding the viewer up to where I could preview the picture would be too obvious, so I kept everything at waist level.

If focus were important to me, I’d be disappointed in the results. Since I was going instead for a more impressionistic portrayal, I was actually pretty happy with how it came out.

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Have you ever noticed how people in passing cars are so good-looking?

Whether you’re jogging down the street or barely missing a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle, you typically only get a brief view of other drivers and, for some reason, their facial features crystallize into a handsome image during that nanosecond of recognition.

Maybe my brain is editing out any apparent defects, leaving behind only movie stars and top models motoring through the streets of my small South Carolina town.

Organizers of beauty pageants would be wise to recognize this phenomenon. I’m envisioning some kind of drive-through Miss America competition.

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If a woman using a hula-hoop at work gives me pause, what am I to make of this picture?

I hope my production coordinator is simply trying to unjam a printer but, quite frankly, I fear for his life. It appears he’s being eaten by the legal-size paper tray.

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