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March 05, 2003: Socks and more sea critters

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For some inexplicable reason, my socks have been slipping slowly down all day. We are not talking about the top of the sock just bunching up around the top of my shoe, like socks have a tendency to do when the elastic starts giving out. No, this was far more annoying. My socks kept creeping down *into* my shoe, to gather underneath my foot in uncomfortable wrinkles.

It wasn't all that bad when I was just sitting or standing. But when one of my coworkers and I decided to take a short walk over to The Cannery to check out a store I've been dying to go into, my socks started driving me crazy. And unlike when it's just the top part being all bunchy and annoying, to fix these socks required me to stop, take off my shoes, readjust the sock, and put my shoe on so I could walk another block or two before I had to do it all over again. Needless to say I decided to grit my teeth and ignore the recalcitrant socks as best I could until we returned to our hotel.

I don’t know if it is the socks or the shoes that are the problem, since both are brand new. I shall have to try a few controlled experiments with different socks and different shoes to narrow down the culprit. And in the meantime I am making a rather important mental note to hold off on wearing both these socks and these shoes together until such time as I figure out just what the heck is going on.


I have decided that in order to fully talk about the mollusks and mollusk handlers we are dealing with right now, I must add a new classification to the Alias list – barnacles. Barnacles (in real life) are those little critters that attach themselves to the bottoms of boats and thus cause all kinds of problems because they get in the way of things and clog up pipes and in general are just a nuisance. They probably don't mean to be so darned annoying, but nevertheless that's how they end up. Hence the term seems peculiarly appropriate for some of the people we've had to deal with during mollusk training in the past few weeks.

One particularly insidious cluster of barnacles spent hours at the training site yesterday, blocking the flow of mollusk traffic through the rooms, and hampering our efforts to do our job efficiently by not only asking all sorts of pointless questions, but actually interrupting us when we are speaking to the mollusks. One of the worst of the barnacles actually attempted to add a more permanent clog in the pipes in the form of additional paperwork. And several other lesser barnacles have been causing a great deal of frustration and concern because they have, in their carelessness, been responsible for issuing the wrong shell polishing kits to the wrong mollusks. This is not a good thing; not at all.

But one of the most frustrating parts about this job (or any job dealing with this sort of service) is that those of us at Benthic Creatures have our hands tied when it comes to barnacles. We can do all we can to gently guide them to less annoying and incorrect behaviors. We can go completely overboard in 'training' them so as to minimize the risk. But at the end, our hands are still tied. And sometimes it makes me worry a great deal to know that when we leave, it is the barnacles – those people who have the least amount of clue as to how to do anything useful - that will remain to provide support to the mollusks.

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