When lunch breaks are sandwiched in between work deadlines and demands, eating gets postponed and food often gets forgotten or misplaced.
I think that’s how a small blue bowl ended up on top of the file cabinet, near the back window. Everyone saw the bowl up there, but nobody seemed to have the time or the inclination to do anything about it. As a result, it sat up there for quite some time, undisturbed. Maybe for a week or more, I’m not sure.
Finally, one afternoon, a young man decided it was time to straighten up our somewhat cluttered office space. Before he began dusting the top of the file cabinets, he picked up the little blue bowl and looked inside. His mouth dropped open. He gasped and then shouted, “Whose bowl is this? It’s filled with freaking mold! Gross! I can’t even tell what it used to be. WHO left this bowl up here?”
Under the circumstances, no one wanted to claim ownership of the poor abandoned bowl. However, curiosity did compel everyone to get up, walk over, and take a look. The spontaneous comments that the mold evoked were quite interesting:
“Oh my God. I always thought this job was going to kill me. Now I know it.”
“Auugh! Just give that icky moldy bowl to me. I’ll take it to the sink in the kitchen and wash it out with hot water.”
“Oh no, don’t do that! Big mistake! Don’t even touch it. Mold spores will fly out all over the place. Who knows what kind of awful disease is lurking in there. Office biohazard. Looks like a science project gone bad.”
“Yuck! What do you think was in this bowl before it was THIS? Looks like it might have been soup? Oh well, it doesn’t matter anymore. Let’s just throw the whole thing in the trash.”
“Wait! I have a camera! Don’t do anything until I take a picture. I think the mold is kind of beautiful…ummm…well…in its own way. Look at all the different colors.” (And yes, I am the one who said this).
After a quick photo shoot, the bowl was carefully wrapped in a plastic bag and secured with a plethora of packing tape. The word “BIOHAZARD” was written on the front and back of the bag with a black marker, the bag was tossed in the trash, and everyone seemed to be satisfied. Crisis averted! We all returned to our desks to continue working, and life went back to boring normal until someone chuckled and said:
“Hey…remember that guy who ate half a can of sardines, put the rest in his desk drawer, and then went on vacation for two weeks? It took several days of suffering before anyone found the source of that horrible smell. Looking back, that was pretty funny too.”
It’s been 9 years since then and everyone in that office has moved on to different jobs. Nothing stays the same. Life has changed, but the photo of the misplaced mold bowl lives on!