Thursday, October 15, 2015

Return of the Wasps

The wasps are back. This is a horror show that gets replayed every fall when a new generation of wasps emerge from their nests and start buzzing outside my 5th-story office window. “Horror show” might sound like an exaggeration, but try to imagine this scenario.
You are working at your desk when movement at the corner of your vision causes you to glance up at your office window. You notice a couple of wasps clumsily flitting about on the other side of the glass. You return to your work.
More movement. . . and tapping. You look up and see a dozen wasps, a few of which are repeatedly bumping into the glass. [tap . . tap . . tap] Your ears immediately become attuned to this sound. Can a certain fury now be detected in the darting movements of the wasps, or is this impression caused by the number of wasps now assembled? No matter. They are on the OUTSIDE of the glass. You are on the 5th floor and so the windows do not open, nor are there any other openings. You return to your work.
The sound of wings. You look up to see eleven wasps on the outside of the glass . . . and one on the inside. The ones on the outside seem to want in, and the one on the inside seems to want out. But this is impossible. How can a wasp pass through solid glass? What numinous abilities do these wasps possess? You ponder the question, but then convince yourself that the appearance of this one wasp is a fluke. It must have gotten inside the building by some ordinary means and then it flew down the hall and into your office. He seems preoccupied with the glass, so there is no cause for concern. You can kill him later. You return to your work.
The harmonious sound of multiple sets of wings. You look up to see nine wasps outside of the glass and three on the inside. Two of the three are tapping against the glass, wanting out, but the third is flying a diagonal path across your office airspace. His thoughts and motivations are his own. Now is the time for panic felt deep, coupled with irrational speculations as to entomology and the supernatural. Work is abandoned.
This has been my experience for the past five years. The mystery as to how the wasps get inside disturbs me almost as much as the wasps themselves. The building’s super has theorized that they get in through the light canisters in the ceiling, but this makes no sense to me. Why would light canisters have a direct avenue to the outside? If so, why can’t the openings be plugged? The super has made multiple attempts to combat the wasps over the years, including filling the building with deadly poisons (perfectly safe for us worker drones, of course), but the wasps seem unfazed. The super has now surrendered – the building is the wasps’ domain. We are expected to live and work by their good graces.
When the wasps return, the transition period can be difficult, but I am soon given over to acceptance and submission. The wasps fly about the room, alight on the spout of my water bottle, and crawl on my desk. But my clients, who visit my office and encounter the wasps for the first time, are less staid in their reaction. It is distracting to try to discuss their cases with them while their eyes track the movements of the wasps in the room. They flinch, duck, and sometimes vocally express their displeasure with the wasps. Acceptance takes time, I suppose.

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