It was all acres that day. A big mass of them coming down the chute.
“Acres only, today, boys!” bellowed Rusty, the foreman, nonplussed.
Normally, it’s a grab bag. You get feet, inches, gallons, cords, light years, cubic millimeters, and such. Any number of combinations of measurements can come down that chute. But only one type at a time? All day? It just didn’t happen.
“It happened once before,” said Rusty when I mentioned it. “Six years back, before you wandered in here, chute was packed with fathoms for about a day and a half. Got clogged ‘round hour 23. Janet had to climb in with the big stick to get it moving again. She can’t even stand to look at a fathom now.” He laughed.
The acres kept coming. I wanted to talk about it with the other folks on the floor, but no one seemed to care. It had to mean something, I thought. No one else shared the feeling.
“Fluke of the odds. Numbers. Odds.” mumbled Bennett, who only spoke in gists.
So I set to collecting them as I would any other unit of measurement and went about painting and wrapping them for shipment. I went with shades of green that day, being a TV fan and all.
After lunch, I tried again, this time with Peter Pan, a guy who started work the same week I did.
“Pretty weird,” I ventured. “All acres.”
“Eeeyup,” said Peter Pan.
“Wonder what it means?”
“Doesn’t mean anything, I don’t think. You heard Bennett. It’s gonna happen some days.”
“Yeah,” I said. “But the odds are astronomical.”
Peter Pan grinned. “Even more astronomical are the chances that it means anything, buddy.”
I nodded and started to walk away when he put his hand on my shoulder.
“And hey, give the green a rest. We all get it. Very funny. But you know how Mother gets about variety.”
I gulped and nodded a little harder and went back to my station. There was a spray can of cerulean I wanted to test out anyway.