Upended Wisdom

Strangely inscrutable are the ways our mind abstracts, indexes and stores away incidents in our lives. Not infrequently incident A dredges up memories of a long-ago incident B. A recent instance of this was a newsfeed item from Time instantly taking me back to the day some thirty+ years ago:

Our second-floor office in Prabhadevi was in the shape of an unfinished rectangle with a long side and two short sides. The long side was laid out as a large hall with cabins for mangers on one side and, on the other side, a line of tables, one behind the other, for the staff, and a passage-way in the middle. Being the central office for coordinating all commercial and engineering support for other regional offices spread throughout the country, there was a large volume of paper documents tracked and processed at this office.

An obvious corollary was the need for storage space for keeping the large box-files holding these documents. While fitting out the office, the carpenter-by-appointment had provided a two-rack shelf that ran along the length of the wall. Each staff got some three feet of shelf-space above his side-table and easily accessible standing up from his seat.

The Big Boss routinely took rounds of the office like a tiger on prowl. If ever the files did not sit neat on the shelf, there would be on-the-spot fireworks in the hall leaving their owner badly singed.

On this day, just before luncheon break, we suddenly heard a sound of a kind we had not heard before. When we looked up and around clueless, we saw, somewhere in the middle of its length, a segment of the shelf coming down with the files dropping off like panic-stricken folks jumping off a building on fire. It was quickly stopped in its descent by the side-table directly under the collapsing segment of the shelf. That was not all. Before we could lift our jaws up, right before our eyes, we saw the contiguous segments on either side also coming down in a wave. Within a few seconds, to our horror, all of the shelf – some sixty feet of it – was resting down off the wall.

Luckily no one was hurt though many of us took a while to recover from the shock.

It took several weeks to get a new shelf and the files back in their place.

Now, let me switch to the newsfeed item from Time that triggered the recall. Here’s an extract:

Watch: Store Shelf Collapse Shatters 7,000 Wine Bottles

…It wasn’t exactly a sparkling day for workers at Superior Discount Liquor, after a 78-foot shelf gave way, sending nearly 7,000 wine bottles crashing to the floor to form a reservoir of booze.

Staff scampered to safety with a river of red wine hot on their heels as the entire store flooded. According to one employee, wine was pouring out of the front and back doors of the Sheboygan, Wis. shop.

Visiting salesman Nick Haen had almost finished restacking the shelf on his weekly visit to the store, when a peculiar sound caught his attention.”I heard a little shift and all of the sudden I looked up and just saw bottles start coming, and so I turned around and booked it as fast as I could,” Haen, 23, told Sheboygan Press. “It was a little bit of a rush, a little bit of a, ‘Holy man, did that just happen?’ It was unbelievable.”…

Not resting at the office shelf and the store shelf, the mind jumped to Bond novels where cut-outs limit the damage caused by a breach and to the story of the Titanic with its bulkheads not quite serving their avowed purpose of compartmentalization and saving it from flooding waters.

What could possibly tie up these disparate’s together in the eyes of the mind?

Perhaps the cluster is filed under the abstracted wisdom: ‘United we fall, divided we stand!’



2 Responses to Upended Wisdom

  1. S R Kannan says:

    Or is it about not taking support from something which is unstable/perishable in itself


  2. S Basu says:

    mind truly makes bizarre connections 🙂


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