Another day...*

Today when I went to ask E. for the first favor of the day, I reported that the vomit had been cleaned up from the stairwell. That sounds like a metaphor, and if someone were writing a book about a grim workplace, they might throw in such a detail -- a pile of vomit that’s been in a stairwell for a week that everyone just steps over and ignores. Like that dog, Sorrow, in The Hotel New Hampshire.

When I first brought it up to my boss, a few days after I noticed it, he said, "are you sure it's vomit?"

"Um, it's a substance that has an irregular texture, with some coin-sized particles, as well as some clearly identifiable rice grains, all held together in an orange-ish brown, thick matrix. I'd say it's vomit."

"Is it possible that someone spilled soup?"

“Um, I guess it is possible. It's also possible that those leather pants were cured with cat pee. But does it really matter?”

“I'm just wondering. It would be good to know for sure what it is.”

That, my readers, is the Baron at his absolute most true self – ‘let's get more data before we make a stand of any sort.’ I can sort of relate to this, but sheesh, he does carry it to the extreme. And I mean that in the fondest way.

"I'm not going to smell it, if that's where you're going with this." I've worked with him long enough to know that if I try to push an issue, it comes back to me like a boomerang, as a research project, so I dropped it.

Several days later, yesterday, I was stepping around the vomit-like mound and saw another co-worker in the stairwell. "Shrek, what's up with the puke on the floor?"

"Yeah, I'll get someone to clean that up.” Right about then, the person who one would think might be in charge of problems like this walked by. "Mr. Ed.,” said Shrek, “you're going to have to remind the cleaning people to check the stairwells. There’s been a nasty mess there for about a week.”

Mr. Ed got a little defensive, “Uh, no, that’s not their job. They’ve been cut back to a bare bones cleaning contract…”

I walked away, because I couldn’t imagine there was anything I wanted to hear at the end of this explanation. But the next day, the vomit was gone. I brought this bit of information to E. with my first request for a favor.

“Hey, do you have a flash drive I can borrow?” I asked as I fished one out of a coffee cup on his desk, because I knew the answer would probably be “No -- what happened to the other three I’ve given you?” Which would have been fair. It seemed more likely that he’d say yes if I actually had it in my hand.

I thought the news about the vomit would constitute some form of trade, but it didn’t seem to bring as much joy as I thought it should.

“Why do you need the flash drive?”

“Because. That presentation. Again.” I told him about my goal for the day, which was to not accidentally quit my job by losing it with the Big Powerful People who were going to critique the presentation. Again.

“Why would you lose it? Who cares?”

“I have a really low threshold for being condescended to. If that starts up again, I might lose it and flip someone off.”

“If you have such a low tolerance for condescension, why are you in here talking to me?”

“Warming up.” Which actually started even earlier, when I put on my presentation outfit and asked R. if I looked okay.

“No. You look ridiculous. And huge, like Jupiter. And those tights!”

“I’m not wearing tights.”

“Oh. But the rest, all true. Jupiter, ridiculous, and so on.”

At any rate, blah blah blah, the day went on and on, I didn’t lose my temper with anyone, I did get to go into the new Time Tunnel with the Great Sandini, the vomit is gone, and, I’m most grateful for the three favors. Phew.


  1. "We need to know if it's vomit so we can decide whether to clean it up. If it's a disgusting pile of some other revolting substance, we'll just leave it there."

    And to think these people are licensed to operate motor vehicles.

  2. You can never be too careful, PC. Cleaning up substances that aren't in the contract could be bad.


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