Dec 1, 2005

Ficus? No Thanks, I'm Driving

We've got, like every other office in the free world, a plastic ficus tree.

It's a really horrible ficus tree, but then again, I have never seen a NICE plastic ficus tree. And they're ridiculously expensive, which makes it even worse. Basically, the manufacturer starts with a cheap woven basket. It's lined with thin paper, and they chunk a big wodge of sytrofoam in there. If you've got one of the 'nice' trees they spray paint it dark green.

On top of the cheaper models the manufacturer, lodged deep in the wastelands of Sri Lanka, has their slave child labourers sprinkle some sphagnum moss or other cheap substitute on top of the foam. On the nicer models you might get Spanish Moss. They then stick two or three tree branches in the styrofoam, straight branches about the thickness of two fingers or so, usually off a local tree that is cheap, plentiful, and easy to harvest in deforestation-level amounts. These two or three limbs, carefully chainsawed to four foot lengths serve as trunks for the up-and-coming 'ficus' tree.

The indentured children then take massive industrial drills in their tiny, bone-thin arms and bore diagonal holes into the trunks at various and sundry places. They are then given plastic glue guns with frayed and bare cords and barely-insulated cases. Choosing from huge dump bins of branches, they hot-glue branches onto the trunks.

Now, these branches are of the poorest quality; they are always plastic, and if you've really put out for a nice fake they have some sort of pot metal support inside, so you can pose your ficus in realistic and lifelike positions. Plastic bonsai--feh. Each branch is assembled from a basic mold which includes greyish brown plastic stems and a very obvious pin-and-socket connector, so that the malnourished slaves can artfully attach three or four of these sections together to give the impression of a growing thing.

The leaves always come in about three colours, and their faux leaf veins are always hidden by the weave of the very cheap fabric that they are made of. They usually come in three colours of green that you won't find in nature, with the intention of making you think that the sickly green leaves are new, the puke coloured ones are mature, and the pond-scum viridian ones are oldest. This jiggery pokery is usually foiled by the random placement of all colours, so that at the base of a 'branch,' where one might expect a dark green leaf one finds a leaf so light that it seems to glow like the underside of a UFO, while the outermost extremities are covered with giant, gnarled elephant ivy leaves of such a dark hue that the entire plant seems to be growing inside out.

As a finale, only the highest-level models are sprayed with some sort of barely-breathable plant odor, combining only the worst of rotten wood odors mingled with the scent of compost and cat urine. Ours, for example, is not one of the highest in the faux-shrub hierarchy, so it smells fetchingly like long-chain plastic polymers and petroleum-based resins--rather like a motherboard in a computer burning up, only stronger.

So, armed with this information, why don't we all stop kidding ourselves and simply go buy a real ficus tree from the garden shop at Lowe's, never water it, leave it in the darkest room of the office, and when it finally gives up it's spirit to the Great Compost Pile In The Sky we can at least hold our heads high while tossing it's worldly remains in the dumpster out back, knowing, if nothing else, the men's restrooom doesn't smell like a tire factory.


Vulgar Wizard said...

Put the ficus tree in the bull pen near the document organizer.

I take it you had a lot of time to study the ficus during your recent restroom excursions?

Irrelephant said...

Ah, but it's so much more fun to talk about it in the men's room. When people question my decision to place it there, I tell them that we've thereby doubled our Restroom Efficiency Throughput. See, if the restroom is occupied and another employee wishes to use the utilities and is recaltricient about walking up the hall to the women's room, all the occupant has to do is leave the door unlocked, and the second employee can use the tree, thereby doubling restroom efficiency and preventing a potential childish accident while waiting for an occupant to finish their paperwork.

See? Aren't you glad you left me alone in the office for three days?