You find out the darnedest things when you research a project. For example, while preparing background details for The Oatmeal Man, I found out there really is no such thing as an oatmeal factory (oatmeal production is usually one part of a larger mill). I also discovered that Amboy, California, on which Happy End is loosely based, was pretty much killed off by the I-40’s opening nearby in 1973. But I think the most interesting tidbit I stumbled upon is something called nonchalant dandruff, as illustrated by this video posted on YouTube:
According to Sickipedia, nonchalant dandruff, which can be differentiated from regular dandruff by its sufferers’ marked nonchalance concerning the condition, is one of the initial symptoms of Oates’ Disease. While OD affects less than 1% of all factory workers worldwide, there seems to be a growing trend towards infusion-based diseases (IBDs) where shoddy working conditions and managerial negligence collide (Sunday’s The Oatmeal Man table read, for example). Symptoms of OD include the above-mentioned dandruff, elevated moles that eventually break off and become raisins, and the gradual, painful conversion of glucose to sucrose in the bloodstream.
Like Crohn’s Disease or narcolepsy before the Internet, OD is getting little or no attention from the mainstream media. Which figures. In today’s mass-produced society, it’s usually the individual worker who suffers quietly in the field or factory. IBDs can be easy to misdiagnose because all it takes is the slightest bit of current while you’re in contact with, say, a blob of Malt-O-Meal, or a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies—and what family doctor is going to make that connection?
Today’s science fiction is tomorrow’s medicine. The Oatmeal Man is the fictional account of a man struggling with OD. If his story, embellished as it is, can save just one life, then I’ve done my job. 😉