The coat rack and her chair
The coat rack was behind her chair, and Gideon unwittingly found himself on the wrong side of this formidable duo as he was putting on his winter jacket at lunchtime. He was now stuck in the last row of desks at the end of the office, unable to exit the office, his path blocked by the coat rack and the woman whose name he had not bothered to learn.
Of course, he could simply ask her to move, and in hindsight that would have undoubtedly been the quickest course of action. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it does not do much to alter the course of history as the events themselves unfold. As it was, she had sat down very suddenly and was looking very intently at her screen. She had evidently received some unsavoury news or update because she emitted a loud sigh followed by a string of profanities.
Gideon had already suffered her ire that morning when he had loudly professed in the break out space that he had nothing to do and was intending to spend his morning in the coffee shop across the road. She had overhead and promptly found something to replace the nothing in which he was about to engage. After a long and arduous morning filling out spreadsheets, Gideon was worried she would not take too kindly to his asking her to squeeze into her desk so that he could saunter off to read the latest Paris Review for an hour.
He thought all of this in a fraction of a second, and as he inadvertently tucked his copy of the aforementioned Paris Review out of sight, he realised he could probably just squeeze through the gap between the coat rack and the chair. In most cases, his assumption would have been correct, but his calculations failed to include the inclement weather of late and the addition to his bulk of the heavy felt jacket that curiously doubled his body’s mass.
As such, these factors did not deter him until he was most of the way through the slim gap when he became conscious of the sound of several pieces of cloth being dragged against the wall. He looked behind and saw the coat rack was following him in his trajectory towards the door. However its 45 degree angle indicated that the coat rack planned on taking the scenic route via the floor. The thought did cross his mind that if he went back the way he had come he would reverse the direction of flow, but he was most of the way through and thought repeating the same journey twice to be cumbersome and unnecessary.
He figured he could probably grab the coat rack as he extricated himself from this tighter than expected gap. Unfortunately the time he had reached that point, the coat rack was equally determined to complete its journey and fell to the floor. Fortunately it's clattering sound was muffled by the large array of coats upon it, and the woman whose name he had not bothered to learn remained working, undisturbed.
Upon picking up all of the dispersed jackets and setting them in more or less the same order he resumed his attempts to leave when he realised that, in pulling the coat rack back into its original position, he had once again trapped himself in the little chamber that was created by the coat rack and her chair.
Photo credit: Edvard Munch