Distant Early Warning

The human body is an incredible machine. It performs hundreds of independent life-sustaining actions without prompting or effort. It can learn new skills and adapt to different environments quickly. It monitors it's own status on a continual basis and gives you a variety of physical warnings to let you know if anythings wrong -- If your body's being attacked by the flu, you get a fever. If you're under too much stress, you get a headache. If you come in contact with something that your system is allergic to, you itch.
But best of all your body has the built-in ability to solve many of
it's own minor problems using a series of time-tested methods.
The only real problem is that this incredible biological machine is contained within a person -- someone who lives in a society with other people, who collectively conspire to embrace certain conventions of manner and decorum that don't always jive with the way your system needs to work.

In other words, as a human being I may not have the same abilities as other animals -- like if I was standing around with a bunch of other people near a watering hold and there was some sort of predator like a lion or a bear somewhere downwind, the chances of me picking up on their scent and then wordlessly warning all of the other members of the herd of the impending danger nearby so we can all scamper to safety are basically zero.
But I always know when I've got a fart coming
You know that feeling, a little bubble in the stomach -- that specific combination of muscle constrictions. It's your body's little early warning proximity alarm. Almost like there's a little submarine crew inside your mind and the sonar guy has picked up a blip on the radar. It gives you time to make a decision. It lets you map out your options and go through the contingencies -- especially when you're in situations where things like that might cause problems, like thanksgiving dinners, first dates, or my particular situation -- sitting at my desk within close proximity to five or six other people.

Sometimes you can get away with it. Sometimes it's not so bad. But your body knows -- and at this particular moment mine was screaming at me, telling me that I was about to enter into a situation that needed more than just a fake cough or any kind of overt shuffling of papers to cover it up.
This was a fart that was going to require some sort of action.
And not only because baking a brownie within such close quarters to my coworkers would be embarrassing, but also because the main person who would have to deal with it would be me. Some farts you can let go and then escape -- they either float away or get buried in the cushion of your desk chair, but then there are those others that you know won't just go away. The ones that linger. The ones you'd have to sit in.
I don't know about you -- but I just can't do that -- especially if a meat lover's pizza is to blame.
So you find solutions. You develop a series of contingency plans. Do I go into an empty bathroom and cut it loose? Maybe I should step outside for a moment and "Make sure I didn't leave my lights on when I parked?" or something. Who knows, perhaps this is a good time to see if that harpie in the marketing department is on a client call, so I can go into her office -- alone and interrupted, to see if she's finally gotten around to reviewing that proposal of mine she's always too busy to look at.

Depending on the urgency and assumed stink factor of the bomb you're preparing to drop, all of these options may be open to you. But in a crowded office environment like this one the motive is never enough. More than anything you need to have the means and opportunity in order to complete your task. If you have to get all the way across the building in order to get to the parking lot, or need to ride in a crowded elevator on the way to that one storage closet that no one ever seems to use there's a risk factor involved that you need to consider.
Just because you know one's coming doesn't always mean that you can hold it.
Which is probably why so many corporate roachers these days seem to avoid the complexities of these types of surgical air strikes altogether and take the easy way out:
Crop Dusting.
For those of you who might not know, crop dusting is the name given to the practice of getting up from your desk, walking to another place in the office -- and then cutting the cheese as gradually as you can while you're moving.

The idea is to spread the wealth as much as possible, thereby minimizing the overall stink of the fart in any one spot while simultaneously doing your best to escape the aroma (and associated blame) yourself by making sure it's placed as far away from your own cubicle as possible.

The key here is in the release, because there are two components you have to deal with -- the smell and the noise. Crop dusting by it's very nature is an attempt to avoid rid of the aroma, but if you don't respect the noise factor everyone's going to know what you're doing anyways. A beef is a beef, and no amount of dancing around the hallways is gonna change that.
So you have to be careful --
Test the waters a little bit, so to speak.
See, that first little fart is essential -- because it lets you know what you're up against. If it hisses like a snake, you're in the clear. But if it quacks like a duck, everyone will know what you're up to unless you're somehow able to slow things down to the point where it can be confused for something else. True masters of the art can break it up into smaller bursts, to the point where anyone nearby might mistake the sound for something else, like bubble wrap popping or the sound a heel makes when it accidentally drags against a tiled floor (ladies, don't think you're getting away with that one -- we all know what you're up to).

Unfortunately not all offices come with long hallways -- leaving many crop dusters with no other option but to slalom randomly between rows of cubicles, trailing their toxic waste behind them. You've seen them -- that guy that "doesn’t have time to stop and say hello," that one woman who seems to be walking too fast for the shoes she's wearing.

Worst of all is that one guy you hardly ever talk to who drops in to your cube just to "see how your day is going." They interrupt you while you're busy with something else, make vague small talk that you can only answer with half-sentences like "Really? I didn't get that memo yet." or "I guess I missed that meeting -- can I find the PowerPoint file online?"

Only to have them duck out of the conversation somewhat unexpectedly, check their watch -- and head off in a hurry; Leaving you sitting there for a moment wondering what that was all about, and why they couldn't have just emailed you with a question like that -- even to the point of raising your head to ponder the possibilities, only to have a nearby coworker suddenly stop what they're doing, sniff the air for a second, and then shoot you the accusing look.
While I, smiling quietly to myself -- walk back to my desk, sit down, and go back to work.

[Listening to:    The English Beat"Mirror in the Bathroom" ]