There I was on an elevator in the building of a major corporation and headed to the 20th floor when about half way up a man joined me in my ascent. It was just the two of us for the rest of the ride. Soon after joining me he asked, “Isn’t that periwinkle you’re wearing?” You could have knocked me over with a feather. The man knew periwinkle!

I was in fact wearing a periwinkle top–and it had been recognized by name. That had never happened before–and especially shocking was that it was a man–and a very corporate looking man at that–complete with white shirt and tie–who had done the recognizing. I expressed my great surprise as well as pleasure that another being had recognized periwinkle, although I didn’t let on exactly why I was so surprised that it had been this particular being. He went on to explain that when he was a boy he had a 64-count box of Crayola crayons and in that assortment of colors, periwinkle–by name–was his hands down favorite. I was most impressed, and not just because it is my favorite too. Unfortunately the elevator ride was far too short and the man-who-knew-periwinkle waved good-bye as I got off at the 20th floor. (Another very non-corporate gesture.)

What a great pick-up line that would have been. In this case I’m sure it was not intended to be that at all–the man just loved periwinkle, pure and simple, and had no ulterior motives. Most refreshing in itself. It made me wonder what else lay behind the corporate exterior of his appearance. Should he have been an artist? Or was he perhaps really an artist and just temporarily dressed up for the daytime as a corporate exec? I wish I’d had the time to ask him. If only I knew who he was, I’d call him up and ask him now.

Passing through corporations as I do from time to time for my work, I always wonder about the people there. Never having been anything even remotely resembling a corporate-type myself, I can only look at and observe the people inhabiting these big buildings as a species alien to my own. And yet I do have dealings with some of them–usually on a one-on-one basis–and find them most ‘normal’ and often very interesting. And yet, how is it that they are able to report to and then remain in such close and confined spaces day after day, all day long, and not absolutely lose their minds, to say nothing of their souls? That really mystifies me.

How can the man-who-knew-periwinkle survive in such an artistically sterile environment? Is it hard for him or did he learn how–a long time ago–to not put up a struggle and just submit? Or was it never a question of ‘submission’ for him at all? Is he happy where he is—in the corporation?

I know what the advantages are of signing up with ‘the system’–financial security in the form of regular paychecks with regular and substantial raises, retirement plans, credit unions, company cars, expense accounts, paid health insurance, paid vacations, and paid everything else. When you’re not signed up with ‘the system’ you ALWAYS pay your own way–ALL the way–without exception. Even with that, for some of us, the freedom is worth the considerable financial price.

So what about the man-who-knew-periwinkle? Is he paying a price to be signed up? I guess I’ll never know, but I will always remember him–and think and wonder about him for a very long time.

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