top of page

Bill Ratner

Things at Work that Pass for Art


We file into the conference room, a glass whale within a whale in teak veneer and hope for healthy blood sugar counts as given on the Winchell’s Donut box. On the tempered glass window calcified raindrops make us dream it’s spring and not January when icicles turn to javelins drop-by-frozen-drop, and the streets below are as walkable as a slip’n’slide at a career milestone party. Out there it’s sub-zero, but in here it’s spa weather, not a sweater in the room. The plasma TV is paused on a news crawl: Japan Firm Opens Whale Meat Vending Machines—I’m thinking opportunity. Up first, the Paste-up Team slides a sheet of high gloss coated stock onto the cutter—slice it’s a cat food box, slice it’s a six-pack, slice it’s a lip balm label. Then the digital brainstorming presentation filters our blood like a liver in recovery. In the corner a statuette of Smiling Buddha with skin-colored balls in his hand rests above a neat stack of never-opened cartons that quiver with the building. Bright red balloons saying STOP WISHING-START DOING bump up against the pendant lights. I am kept awake by a bowl of dancing M&Ms. My cologne is beginning to smell like floor cleaner. I’m excited about the morning’s swag: after tracing our feet on paper for a big-box client we are gifted custom-fit shoes, all happy and smart with Italian stitching, Brazilian rubber, Spanish uppers, and boom, we rock our way toward another all-hands meeting.

bottom of page