Our friend Argle has shared a great many stories with us. Today's story is one that Argle relates secondhand, about one of Argle's former students: Marie.

Marie was a prized student, and kept in touch with Argle after classes. At various points, they were co-workers at other companies, or when Argle founded his startup, Marie was one of the first hires. In between those points where their career paths converged, they kept in touch, even visiting each other at work.

For a few years, Marie ended up in Initech's telecom division. Her office was not in the traditional cube farm, but a small room (with a door and everything!) buried in the basement, far from windows. It may have been a bit of a dank, ugly, cave, but Marie, like all of her fellow Morlocks, did what she could to make it more homey.

Given the era, and the specific computer-nerd subculture, that meant a lot of the ThinkGeek-style desk toys and posters. A Netwon's cradle over there, a fossilized shark's tooth there, and on the wall a Firefly poster sandwiched between a "Reunite Gondwonaland" poster and a "Pangean Liberation Front" poster. It wasn't much, but it was a home away from home.

For months, everything was happy, or as happy as one can be in a basement cave in at Initech. At some point, a new manager was hired, took a tour of the basement, introduced himself, and shook everybody's hand. Well, everybody's hand but Marie's.

Later that day, when she popped out of the Underdark to forage for lunch at the taco place down the street, she saw the new manager huddled up with the older managers, whispering to themselves around the coffee maker. When she passed by, they clammed up until she was back out of ear shot.

When Marie returned to her desk, there was an email waiting for her- she was to report to the office of her Two Levels Up boss immediately. That couldn't be good. She dutifully trudged to that office. That triggered a call for all the other implicated managers on the team, and before long a half dozen people were crammed into this single office with stern looks on their faces.

"It's come to our attention that you've been displaying… inappropriate items in your office." "Flagrantly!" "Potentially offensive!" "Inappropriate for work, certainly, but also inappropriate for anywhere else!" "Blatantly political items are inappropriate for company owned spaces."

The managers, in chorus, explained to her letter and verse exactly which sections of the employee manual she had violated, and exactly what those consequences were going to be. What they didn't explain was how exactly she had violated them.

"I'm confused, what items am I displaying that are blatantly political?"

"Why, those posters!" New Manager said. "Not just blatantly political, but also offensive to many of your co-workers."

Marie was aware that Firefly's cancellation had been cause for much outcry amongst its fans, but didn't see how that was political- and then she realized that it was the other two posters: "Reunite Gondwonaland" and "Pangean Liberation Front" that had drawn their ire.

Marie could have, at that point, defended herself. She could have explained the joke (which always makes it funnier), and attempted to explain geology and continental drift to a horde of managers that had already worked themselves into a frenzy over things they didn't understand. And while she would have been right, it certainly wouldn't have won her anything, and would likely have made the situation worse.

So instead, she said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize. I'll take them down." After a little more scolding, she was released to go back to her cave, where she did what she promised, packing the posters neatly into the original packing tubes they'd come in. And after that, she touched up her resume- it wasn't going to be hard to find a place where she could express herself "politically".

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