This is the saddest story I have ever heard.

Forget the Iliad. Forget Les Miserables. Forget the Grave of the Fireflies.

This tops them all.

Terrible news for the federal employees at the Social Security Administration Office of Disability Operations in Baltimore.

The flatulence will continue, unreprimanded.

The disciplinary action against a farting employee has been withdrawn.

That poor office. They strove mightily to stop it. As Social Security Administration Office of Disability Operation employees, they had to follow standard procedure. This they did to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Smoking Gun in December. The Farter was charged with “Conduct Unbecoming a Federal Employee.”

To an observer it seems funny. Most tragedies do. But it is a piteous saga — like the Iliad, but with more farting.

“On May 18, 2012,” the reprimand begins, “your supervisor, [REDACTED], during a performance discussion with you, discussed the fact that your coworkers were complaining about your flatulence in the workplace and went on to state that it was the reason none of them were willing to assist you with your work.” At this point, the reprimand notes, they attempted to see if the Farter had some sort of medical condition. But no such luck.

“On July 17, 2012, I spoke with you in regards of your releasing of bodily gas in the module during work hours. I asked if you could make it to the rest room before releasing the awful and unpleasant odor. I informed you that the smell from your being flatulent disturbed your coworkers and disrupted the work environment. Several of your coworkers complained about your flatulence. You said that you would try not to pass gas and that you would turn your fan on when it happens. I explained to you that turning on the fan would cause the smell to spread and worsen the air quality in the module.” In short, this poor person did everything short of fall on his or her knees and beg the Farter not to fart.

But it must have failed.

In August, they called in the Deputy Division Director. This should have ended matters. “He said that your coworkers and your manager informed the Division Office of your continuous releasing of your bodily gas and the terrible smell that comes with the gas.” The worker at this point offered to purchase Gas-X. On August 15, the worker claimed to be “investigating ways that you could try to prevent this from happening.”

But the reprimand notes dolorously, “you have continued to release the odor and it has become intolerable to work in the module creating a hostile work environment for all your coworkers.”

The last paragraph, before the documentation of the incidents of farting, is a masterpiece of anger and resignation: “You have submitted medical evidence that you have some medical conditions, which at times may keep you from being able to work a full day or for brief periods; however, nothing that you have submitted has indicated that you would have uncontrollable flatulence. It is my belief that you can control this condition.”

And then follows a list of times and dates of flatulence. It is sheer poetry. “September 7, 2012,” it reads. “10:15 AM. 1:10 PM. 1:44 PM. 2:25 PM.” “September 13, 2012. 1:19 PM. 1:25 PM. 1:31 PM. 1:50 PM. 2:00 PM. 2:52 PM. 2:58 PM. 5:08 PM.”

This all seems very dry and theoretical until you remember that not only was someone farting at all these times, someone else was observing the incidents of flatulence with a clock and noting them down. So, in other words, two people were farting away the hours.

And this had been going on since May.

Picture this office. They are all staggering around with air fresheners. Kyle has started bringing in a gas mask. “We must file a complaint,” Martin says, staggering out of the Offender’s portion of the module. “This must be made to stop. I can take no more of this.”

Carol agrees. “It’s just too much,” she says. Her plants have all wilted and died, after leaving notes that imply strongly that This Is On Your Head.

The Offender lets another one loose and they all shudder in unison. “If it were only silent,” Martin says.

“No,” Carol says, “I appreciate the warning.”

“If it were only a little less pungent,” Kyle says. They cannot understand him through the gas mask and he has to remove it. He gasps in the air. “I had forgotten it was this bad,” he coughs.

“I’ll bake him cookies and ask him nicely,” Carol says. “I’m sure he’d appreciate hearing about it, like when we all sat Martin down about his excessive use of AXE body spray.”

But the Farter is unmoved. The Farter, like the tide, time, and death, waits for no man. No complaint will stay him. He sounds his barbaric yawp over the Baltimore Social Security Administration Office of Disability Operation. And nothing can be done.

They documented. They complained. They complained again. Carol worked hard on that September incident list.

And now the disciplinary action has been withdrawn.

Sisyphus rolls the boulder of paperwork up the hill, and the paperwork comes crashing back down on Sisyphus’ head, and the farting does not stop.

Our article on the incident noted: “The agency did not respond to requests to provide a date for its rescinding action. It also did not answer questions about the status of the employee and what actions the administration has taken to address the concerns of his co-workers in the absence of a reprimand.”

Have mercy on us all.