Measurements

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.

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