Something off topic today
The Bunnies in the Background
A short story by Rob De
The other day I attended an “offsite” meeting that my boss called. An offsite meeting is meant to inspire the attendees because they are not inside the building they normally work. You can be inspired but most of the time, you are sitting in a dark room for a few days listening to people drone on and on talking to their PowerPoint presentation. But that’s okay since we’re out of the office for a while and we don’t have to do the same old boring stuff.
This time we were meeting in an old Victorian bed and breakfast in Portland Maine. Nice place. There were lots of old wooden floors, funky bedrooms and odd wall paper. A lot of the wall paper had strange prints of gardens with bunnies on them.
Getting up early in the morning, I went straight to the meeting room to get a strategically located seat. It is important to get a good seat. One that is far enough away from the presenter and in a position where people cannot see what is on your computer screen. This way you can check emails during the particularly boring presentations. Finding the best location, I staked my claim with my laptop then stepped out to get my morning coffee and something to eat.
It was the usual collection of sweet buns, coffee and fruit. I took a sip of coffee and grabbed a bun, had some small talk with one of my colleagues and made my way back to the meeting room.
To my astonishment, when I returned to the meeting room, one of the senior VPs was sitting in my seat. I looked around and noticed that there were no seats available. So I place my coffee and bun on the serving table, grabbed my laptop that was in front of this senior VP who simply ignored me, and moved to the back of the room.
My boss said that I couldn’t stand all day so I might as well check outside for another chair. He said, don’t worry we’ll wait. The words ‘we’ll wait’ really meant get your ass back here as soon as you possibly can or else.
So I ran out of the room holding my laptop in my hand. Why I brought my laptop, I don’t know. I set out down the hallway looking for a chair. I opened a door and saw a room full of old antique chairs. But they were all thrown together and were piled up to the ceiling. Thinking a chair might be easy to get behind the pile, I stepped into the room and the door slammed shut behind me.
I turned around to open the door and it appeared locked. I thought “just grand I’m stuck in this room and the boss is waiting for me to simply find a chair”. I squeezed my way around the room looking for another way out. The only door I found looked like a closet door. It was very narrow and had an old fashion door knob. You know the kind that was made of glass. I turned it and all sorts of stuff fell out of the closet as I opened the door. I was then sucked into the closet and felt myself falling down a slide inside the closet.
Somewhere along the way down, I dropped my laptop.
When I landed at the bottom of this slide I stood up to look around. I saw what appeared to be sheets in front of doors all around me. I looked past one of the sheets and was looking inside an operating room. With a patient on the table and what appeared to be heart surgery being performed. Looked inside another room and saw I was behind the set of a TV show. It was the morning news. I looked inside another room and saw piles and piles of socks.
I walked through the room with the socks and on the other side saw a long hallway with doors. I turned around and the sock room was gone. The first door was locked but the second appeared to be behind a long stack of washing machines and dryers. It was as if I was inside a laundry mat looking from behind the machines. Oh, I thought that’s where all the socks came from. I looked inside another room and saw piles and piles of pots and pans.
I was sweating now. My pants were torn, shirt was hanging out. Hair was a mess. Where was I? My boss was waiting on me and I could not find my way back. How long was I gone? Where the hell is my laptop?
I pushed my way through the last door and saw what appeared to be a country kitchen. There was an old time country sink, stove and a heavy wood dinner table all covered with papers, vegetables and apples. The sink was up against the window so you could see outside. I was confused but was shocked when I realized that the person cleaning dishes in the sink was a giant bunny. I stepped back a bit and realized sitting at the table was another giant bunny wearing spectacles reading the newspaper. And this wasn’t a regular paper. It had pictures of bunnies posed as if they were people reporting or was part of the news.
I stumbled backwards and knocked over a pile of turnips.
“Oh dear” said the bunny washing dishes. “We have a visitor.”
I was astonished. A talking giant bunny… what the hell was in that coffee.
I looked out the window and did not see downtown Portland but a garden. The garden had all kinds of plants growing in it. I looked at the talking bunny and said “What?…”. What else could I say? What do you say to a talking bunny; a giant talking bunny? She, and I am sure it was a she who was washing the dishes said “Now what are we going to do with you”. Her husband, that is, I assume he was her husband looked up from his spectacles and said don’t worry honey bunny, I’ll take care of it. He was a tall bunny but walked with a bit of a crouch. He seemed very old. He and his wife were clothed like farmers. She was wearing a house dress and wore an apron over it. The apron had pictures of gardening tools on it. The husband was wearing denim pants with suspenders. They covered a white cotton shirt. His ears were very long and I think this is what made him look so tall. And his whiskers wiggled as he looked at me; almost like he was trying to get my scent.
He asked “well what can we do for you?” Remembering my mission to find a chair for the meeting, I said with a stutter “I, I’m looking for a chair for my meeting”. He smiled and said “oh dear, dear, dear. That was some strong “want” you had”. “Do you want a throne?” “No” I said, “just a conference room chair.” He smiled.
“Here you go” he said and handed me this chair. Now it wasn’t an ordinary conference room chair. It was a chair that a young child would sit in. It was very small. It was made of wood and had faded paintings all over it. These paintings looked like the garden outside. An old Victorian garden and maybe it was a seat a young child would sit in. I took hold of it and started to protest picturing what I would look like sitting in this chair during the meeting. Then he handed me a chamber pot. The chamber pot had a bunny painted on it and paintings of strawberries and flowers. It was porcelain, white and chipped on top. I thought “what am I going to do with this”. I protested again. “No, this isn’t what I am looking for” I said. He smiled and said “this is exactly what you are looking for”.
He and his wife then started to push me to the front door. I was pushing back but they were so strong. I was holding back and then he said “Don’t worry I set the clock back”. I had no idea what that meant and turned to him and said “Who are you?” He said “We are the bunnies in the background.” And with that he and his wife, kicked me out the front door.
I landed on my butt. Looked in one hand and saw I had my arm around a regular conference room chair. I looked in the other hand and saw instead of a chamber pot I was holding my laptop computer. I looked behind me and there was no door, just an old, wallpapered wall.
Shaken, I looked from side to side and saw that the hallway was empty. Wondering how long I was gone, if felt like hours, I was thinking what excuse I would use as I entered so late after looking for a simple conference room chair. But as I walked in, it appeared I was gone for only a minute. I stepped in, my boss smiled at me and said “great now we can begin”.
I’ve thought about this a lot during the meeting and afterwards. What had happened? Was it the coffee? No this was too real and I only took a sip of the coffee. I thought about Lewis Carrol, I definitely when down a rabbit hole. I thought of Mary Chase’s Harvey and even Hugh Hefner. Do they know something about bunnies that others don’t know? Did I see something I simply was not supposed to see; something that is part of the cosmic workings of the universe; something that keeps everything in place?
Have you ever lost your car keys and searched all around the house only to find them in the first place you looked? What is really happening, did you simply miss the keys the first time or was it the bunnies in the background?