It wasn’t every Monday that we got popcorn. In fact, the six previous Mondays we had gone without popcorn. Now morale was at an all-time low. This Monday was looking like more of the same. Another popcorn-less day.

The cause, delayed shipping, or so management claimed. We, the plebeians, were starting to have our doubts. How long did it take to ship a popcorn machine anyway? Two months or more? That was the current trend. Management could only blame the U.S. Postal Service for so long before we started to question them.

Perhaps there was no popcorn machine and never had been. Free, salty, heavily-buttered popcorn was just a carrot at the end of a stick, put in front of us to keep us running on our wheel, or in this case, grading the essay portion of high school standardized tests, the equivalent of office space purgatory. Day in and day out we stared at computer screens, grading the same essay over and over again.

So this is what our college education afforded us. The more we graded, the more we dwelt on the injustice of it all. Popcorn was promised, but popcorn wasn’t delivered.

Without an organized union, there was no pending strike, though there were talks of mutiny. Paper clips were sharpened into fine points, then pulled through compact tape balls, which were fastened to rulers creating makeshift clubs.

We graded. We plotted. We waited. The essays kept coming, but not the popcorn. 

Image CC BY-SA 2.0 "popcorn" by Brett Farmiloe