Disassociated Press. It took over the vibe of the whole desk area. A little ant farm with a lot of impact. One of the company employees had won a gift card and on a whim purchased an ant farm. It was placed in a central location at the Withoutthreads.com warehouse where everyone could take a peek.
“In no time at all, it went from an idle amusement, to an uplifting metaphor for life,” said Jef Kaplan, a quality Manual Headquarters Head Quality Manager. “And it also pretty quickly turned into a death heap, a slowly twitching pile of lost dreams.”
There is such joy in potential energy. Three and a half months prior to the sad demise of this ill-fated whim, the colony was a budding new venture filled with hope and symbolism.
“It’s like they were setting out to engineer an empire. Just like we do in our lives,” said Mitch Borkowski, freshly back from winning a debate against a Buddhist Monk, “Only, in our lives we would have brought a queen. You know, keep the party going.”
The farm had been delivered in two parts. The Habitat: a small Plexiglass box containing neon green gel, the consistency of which only Jef knows (because only Jef has poked it with a pen. But it looks pretty hard). The gel was a completely inorganic replacement for both soil and food.
Part two of the delivery: The Inhabitants. The ants were kept in a test tube and put in the fridge to slow them down during transport. Throughout the rest of the metaphor, this point will be ignored, as it bears no metaphoric value.
By the second day of having the ant farm at Withoutthreads.com, the active minds of the employees began to draw parallels. “We also live in square little man-made structures, and our food is also often neon and fake,” thought almost every warehouse laborer, verbatim. But they kept it silent because they were about to have Slush Puppies and Volcano Tacos.
Bad diet or not, both the ants and the workers were determined to work hard and really make a difference in their worlds!
During the first few weeks the ants made very slow progress. They had a very hard time digging into their new shiny green homeland. Not even one anthill was built.
Despite these odds, the ants kept working to improve their lot in life. They tunneled slowly into the depths of their captivity, creating one solitary chamber. And just like these ants, the warehouse workers kept on pushing hard with full-blown optimism for job security.
At about this time Jef speculated that he had been sent a factory second ant-farm, or at least a very old one. “The green stuff was completely compacted, there was nothing farmable about it.” Jef got pensive for a moment, and looked up, “But it was free, so I’m not complaining.”
Warehouse workers, who resembled ants with their daily movements, weren’t discouraged by the green stuff.
“I’m sure the ants were totally loving not being in the mail anymore, and we were totally loving being able to dote over the ants every now and then throughout the day,” said Jeb Cadwell who wrote this story so was easy to quote.
Temp notable Billy Besley added, “And whenever the bosses see anyone just looking at the ants and wasting time, we come across as nature-lovers instead of lazy-people. So it all works out”.
To please the ants, Jef taped up a picture of relaxing co-worker, Ashley Hypes. He also put a playmobil astronaut in the farm. “That way they’d keep on working whether or not the humans were looking,” said Jef. “Just like the staff here keeps up the good work whether or not the management is looking. Heh.”
But the glory days of healthy, happy ants were limited.
At about this time, most warehouse workers were unable to comprehend the further implications of their metaphors.
“I was right in the middle of appreciating my metaphor when I noticed there was a dead ant up at the top of the green stuff,” thought everyone.
Within a week there were two more dead ants, and then a few days later, three more. The focus of the colony shifted drastically. They went from “domestic” to “desperate” in no time at all. The inner-existentialist within each warehouse worker could relate.
“It was like, a minute ago they were all happily tunneling,” reflected everyone separately, “but then they saw some buddies croak and they were like, ‘I don’t have time to be digging deeper into that green stuff!'”
During the weeks that followed their realization of mortality, the ants no longer tunneled and they no longer ate. They only tried to escape their fate. They did this until they all were dead. At about this time, most warehouse workers were unable to comprehend the further implications of their metaphors.
Billy Besley touched the interviewer’s shoulder, “Before the genocide, they were happy as long as they stayed focused.” He stopped to ask for a smoke break and then continued, “Just don’t obsess about your daily struggle in relative terms of your mortality. But seriously, I need a smoke break.”
Jef braved onward for a dramatic conclusion, “In the end the only remnant of order they possessed, was their habit of dying in the same place. These ants really only made one tunnel, and they died in it.”