Catastrophic Breakdown

The entrance to the larynx.
Image via Wikipedia

Everything runs like a well-oiled machine.

My brain, the Board of Directors, issues an electronic communique to all the various involved parties regarding another project: Take a sip of a beverage; we’re thirsty.

This is a long-term, ongoing project; it’s been repeated many times over the company’s history.  This is something all the project participants are used to.  The task is carried out many times per day and has been for many tens of thousands of days.

The email goes out to the parties.  They begin the process.

The arms receive the email and their group is the first to execute.  They coordinate with the optical group to identify the location and volume, and approximate weight, of the beverage.  The arms motion in a smooth path to put the secondary group into position to execute their task: the hands.

The hands and fingers coordinate their efforts and wrap around the beverage container, with an appropriate grip for the task.  They adjust for surface texture and account for slippage.  With the correct pressure applied, the arms continue their procedures with practiced ease.  The container is lifted to the correct position for the tertiary group to begin their functions.

The mouth takes over.  The hand and arms work to provide the lips a suitable distance from the container to ensure delivery of the beverage without spillage and loss of material.  The lips place themselves on the container and provide enough clearance to allow the mouth proper volume intake without flooding.  The tongue poises itself to participate in providing the Board its experience for the project, taste, without obstructing flow of materials.  The tongue also plays a dual role in assisting the throat with taking the raw materials and passing them onto the factory for processing into the necessary products and goods and waste removal.

The throat contracts its muscular groups in the proper series, sending the raw materials down the chute toward the processing plant.

Then the breakdown comes.  It’s an epic failure of catastrophic ends.

Somehow, the epiglottis missed the email announcing the project.  Asleep at its post, or inattentive to the emails, the epiglottis is ignorant of the required role.  It has one, and only one, job to do during all this.  It is saddled with the easiest task of all the components, involving the least effort and coordination.  All that is necessary for the epiglottis to succeed is to pay attention and execute in the proper time.

Evidently, the epiglottis is a teamster employee, and does not feel the need to read the emails it receives from the Board because its union is powerful, and there will be trouble for all the parts if the epiglottis performs a work stoppage.

Unaware of the intake of raw materials, the epiglottis is caught by surprise when a sudden influx of liquid cascades down the throat.  Like a silo grain door opened without warning the materials crash down the curve of the throat and arrive at the y-split where the epiglottis is stationed.  Startled awake under a wash of fluid, the epiglottis reacts from instinct and tries to snap closed.  Too late!

The fluid is pinned between the squeezing epiglottis and the ports it protects.  The bulk of the intake is flushed into the correct chute, toward the processing plant.  But a small part of it is trapped behind the epiglottis and routed to an unauthorized area.  The lungs.  The fluid is aspirated.

Now, as a result of the Teamster-like laziness and deliberate negligence of the epiglottis, groups which are never intended to participate in the production of goods from raw materials must react, must respond.  Their protest to the Board is immediate, violent, and angry.  The lungs, invaded with a substance they are neither qualified nor trained to process, fly into emergency mode.  They must expel the offending material at once or suffer damage, which ultimately will impact the Board.  The lungs sound the alarm; instant response is gained from their security force, the diaphragm.  In convulsive, explosive contractions, the diaphragm jerks and contorts, forcing huge volumes of their own raw materials — air — back out through the doors of their plant.  The epiglottis, in charge of allowing free flow to and from the respiratory plant, is still dealing with its failure and screams in a beer-belly-jiggling fit about not being paid to handle this much work, not being trained for emergency procedures, and wanting its shop steward.

The diaphragm, angry with the epiglottal failure, continues its assault, in greater urgency.  The lungs are forced to replenish their materials to continue providing ammunition to the diaphragm.  The Board, aware of the catastrophe, tries desperately to restore order and unity among the infighting business groups.  An instruction is issued to the arms to rise high, and open the airways for the lungs to expel the invasive fluids.  The arms comply, but without enthusiasm; the epiglottis has done this to itself and the groups which paid attention to the project memo and did their parts with precision and perfection are not interested in assisting what they perceive as a lazy, surly and uncooperative party in their efforts.

The Board insists, and tries to calm the livid diaphragm.  The epiglottis takes a beating.  The throat is now instructed to take the expelled air from the lungs and force it over the epiglottis to clear it of the offending material.  Again, the order is carried out, but with a significant lack of enthusiasm.  The dragging of the air over the epiglottis makes the Board sound like a growling dog, and the optical group experiences difficulties with flashing spots and dimness as a result of the lungs being unable to supply adequate amounts of processed goods to the Board, the jarring of the diaphragmal attack, and watering brought on by the epiglottal failure.

Agonizing seconds stretch to a minute, then a minute and a half.  The lungs, with great hesitance, sound the all clear.  A final spasm of the diaphragm — just to teach the epiglottis a lesson — wracks the torso region of the company.  The lungs gasp and suck and pull in great gulps of material.  Their clients have been deprived of their critical product and are in demand, sending urgent messages to hurry up and get into production or the entire economy will shut down.

In a few minutes, the calm is restored.  The Board is livid.  The epiglottis pouts, saying under its breath it never received the memo at all.  The Board threatens to have the IT department investigate to see whether the email was deleted by the epiglottis.  After a tense, silent period, the two parties decide to leave the matter uninvestigated.

But resentment is bred among the business groups — those involved in the project, and those which weren’t supposed to be.

A tenuous truce is reached.  And business resumes.

For now.


All original content copyright DarcKnyt, 2009
All rights reserved.
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6 thoughts on “Catastrophic Breakdown

  1. I love how you took something as mundane as fluid ‘going down the wrong pipe’ and made it into a corporate labor dispute. I will never shake the mental image of my epiglottis as a lazy teamster employee.

    On a related note, ask DZ about the day I spewed liquid across an entire aisle of the grocery store. Mucho embarrassing.

    Thanks, hon! I’ll have to ask about that story sometime. Soon. 😉

  2. I stopped reading about halfway down. Can you please summerize. Give me the jist of it. Hey, jist rhymes with fist. GET TO THE BLOODY POINT!

    I’m going to copy this reply, save it to a text file, and post it on every blog post you put up from now on! 😛

  3. What is the movie where the people are shrunk and put inside a body. This post was a mix between that movie and Hoffa. Never really heard choking put in these words…I almost passed out but stayed upright…glad i did great post really funny…Zman sends

    Thanks, Zman! I’m glad you enjoyed it! The movie was Fantastic Voyage. Very cool!

  4. I did read the whole post but for some reason, I only understand 10% and I’m not even sure if I understood it quite well! This is just too much for my brain. Forgive me for my brain is running low on RAM. This is too much like Anatomy except for the IT department.

    Much Love,

    That’s okay. Thanks for stopping by anyway. 😉 Have a good day, and upgrade that RAM!

  5. This was a nice little break in my afternoon. Hilarious! Sorry, I’m not so much laughing at you as laughing with you. I mean, you are laughing, right…

    I’m glad you survived and I hope things are back to business as usual!

    Well, thanks, hon! I am, in fact, back to “normal” — whatever that means for a horror writer. 😉

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