A couple weeks ago, in our weekly staff meeting, someone brought up The Caulk Issue.
Have you ever discussed caulk in a professional environment? No? Let me tell you.
It turns out that a number of schools constructed from the 1950s to the 70s were built using caulk that contains PCBs. PCBs, if you don't know, are toxic and (it turns out) practically impossible to contain. So cleanup of these schools turns out to be a huge and costly issue.
I didn't know about the schools and the toxins, but had read that PCBs are responsible for the diminishing size of alligator penises in the Everglades.
Which brings us to the weekly meeting.
I work in an education-related field, and we write about these topics. Topics like schools and caulk. Not alligator penises. So in staff meeting, people talk about their article topics for the following week's newsletter.
My life is so much more glam than you ever imagined, no?
So we get to beautiful, elegant Michele, who says, "I'm going to have to write about the caulk issue."
She pronounces it carefully, trying to accentuate the L. CauLk. But still.
There is a pause. A pregnant pause, if you will.
And one of our older colleagues says - with complete sincerity - "Oh, the caulk issue. Yeah. The caulk is a big one."
Fortunately, I am sitting next to Michele, so I cannot make eye contact.
Someone else says, "What's the deal with the caulk?"
An explanation of PCBs and containment problems takes place. Schools have to be torn down, because you can't just remove the caulk.
I resist the urge to giggle like a girl. The caulk, people, the giant, dangerous caulk! What do we do with the caulk?
Half the table is avoiding eye contact, and the other half is discussing it in complete seriousness.
The giggle sits at the top of my stomach the entire meeting, flapping and fluttering, in much the same way a fly will bat itself against a window pane, trying to escape. I'm afraid to say anything.
Finally, we adjourn. I make it down the hall and around the corner before I turn to one of my Quad-mates.
I squawk, "The caulk! The deadly caulk!"