Many years ago I worked as part of a small civilian computer-support group within a Naval station in Panama City, Florida. I was a programmer and Rodney was the other programmer in the group. We occupied adjoining cubicles in a group office. Rodney was of a far more conservative frame of mind than I was but I respected him and we were on a friendly basis for the most part.

One day he was sitting at his desk and, during a period of casual chitchat in the office he said something to the effect that when the U. S. Supreme Court prevented schools from having classroom prayers in public schools this was the start of a long process of moral decay for the whole country. I of course being of a much more liberal outlook and having a sometimes unfortunate tendency to spontaneously blurt out whatever is on my mind, immediately replied with a comment disagreeing with him, and attempting to point out the flaw in his reasoning. He replied to my reply, and I replied to him, a little more insistently and a little more forcefully.

Normally it was my habit to avoid getting involved in such useless arguments with other people no matter how strongly I disagreed with them, but for some reason something about this discussion set me off that day, and I stubbornly refused to back down. We both gradually escalated our argument and it went on and on, to the point where it became a very heated shouting match. Our boss Gary left his desk and walked out of the room, shaking his head and muttering in disgust. We screamed at each other for well over an hour, with Gary a couple of times sticking his head into the door to yell at us, “Would you guys shut the hell up?!” But Rodney and I ignored him and continued our verbal fisticuffs. It was like we were both locked into some kind of deadly embrace from which we were unable to extricate ourselves. We just couldn’t stop yelling at each other.

Finally after almost two hours of this crap our argumentation started to run out of energy. I think we were both just getting tired. The argument eventually ran its course and we just sat there looking at each other, not having anything further to say. One of the Navy technicians came in and asked us if we could help him set up some computer equipment for some diving equipment tests they were planning to do. Rodney and I both got up from our desks and went out. We spent the next couple of hours working together on this little project. We worked well together and as we worked neither of us said anything about the huge altercation we had just had in our office.

Afterward as we were walking back one of the techs asked us, “What was that ruckus going on in your office earlier this afternoon? We could hear it all over the building.” I replied, “Nah, it was nothing.”