It began simply enough; I got up and went to work. I'm sick, so I can neither hear nor smell especially well. Even so, I kept detecting whiffs of weird smell periodically throughout the morning. At first, I didn't think anything of it. After all, life smells weird sometimes, doesn't it? But as the intermittent waves of weird smell persisted, I started to get a little uneasy.
After literally smelling myself, I should have been satisfied that I had not actually failed to shower properly. But the smell continued to break through the snot blockade. Did my nose deceive me? Was I imagining things? Maybe there was no smell; maybe I was merely losing my mind.
See, it occurred to me that, if my co-worker was possibly experiencing some kind of stomach trouble, likely she wouldn't want to a) admit it, or b) talk about it a lot. I'm not saying my co-worker had turned into a walking, talking Whoopie cushion, or even that I thought she had, but just the possibility that she might have or might one day experience this kind of transformation meant I should approach the entire situation with compassion and tolerance. Right? So I hunkered down in my truly terrible desk chair, determined to bear the cross of weird smells in silence.
But when she left for lunch, the smell persisted. Clearly, it wasn't her. As the only other person in the office, the finger swung back to point straight at me. I needed to know, once and for all, if I stank. But how could I determine this? My nose was still getting patchy reception at best.
Hark, another co-worker! When she knocked on the door to ask a question, I took advantage of the situation.
Now it really was a mystery. Now it was A Thing. The Weird Smell That Had No Origin. If it wasn't me, who was it? What was it? Why, oh why, was it?
When my co-worker returned from lunch, the plot thickened. Or maybe the smell had. Either way:
We hunted. We hunted everywhere. Was it in the fridge? No. Was it in the coffee pot? No. Was it me? No. Was it her? No. Was it the coffee cup that I keep forgetting to clean out? Embarrassing that such a thing should exist, but no. Was it my big bag 'o recycling that I keep forgetting to take home? Again, embarrassing, but no.
Having exhausted all obvious possibilities, my co-worker and I resigned ourselves to living and working with our new office mate, the weird smell. Not in silence, though, because now that we both knew neither of us stank, we could talk about it freely and with gusto.
And so it was that I discovered that I am disgusting. We laughed about it, which helped me accept the fact that I am a slovenly Tupperware forgetter, a slob who incubates bacteria cultures inside her Vera Bradley lunchbox. But the truth is that I was ashamed. Mortified, in fact. And also the office still smelled, because I was way too much of a wuss to go and fill the bathroom with foot fumes as I tried desperately to scrub out the Tupperware.
Luckily it was near the end of the day, anyway, so I only had to suffer a few hours of ignominy. Right?
WRONG. It can always get worse!
I'll tell you where they were. They were in the campus police office. Why were they there when I had not left campus since arriving at 8:30 that morning? I'll tell you. I had brought my personal laptop to work because my work computer had basically bitten the dust (oh, by the way, I finally got a new computer!), and I was afraid that, while I was in the front office helping with some work there, my co-worker would spontaneously leave our office to go do...something. Anything. "If you leave, lock the door," I told her. "I don't want my laptop to get stolen. I'll take my keys so I can get back in." So I did. My keys and I left my office that afternoon, but evidently only one of us made it back.
I shouldn't complain. Some kindhearted soul didn't want anybody snatching the keys, making a dash for the satellite parking lot, hitting the panic button to find which car the keys went to, and then making off with my sweet ride. (It's not that sweet. I mean, I like it, but it's not a BMW or anything. It's really just a pretty ok little car.) So somebody picked them up and turned them over to campus police. And I did manage to locate them. It just meant that I had to go through several hallways. Carrying the Lunchbox of Olfactory Doom. And then wait outside the police office for someone to come let me in.
I was sorely tempted to offer a disclaimer every time somebody walked by - "ugh, do you know what that smell is?" or "haha, one of the labs must be brewing something really icky today!" - but you know what they say. She who smelt it holds the snail-patterned satchel from which it emanated.
After I FINALLY got my keys and was FINALLY en route to my car, it hit me that really, this whole thing might have been an elaborate ruse to teach me a little compassion. There have been many, many occasions on which I have turned up my nose (or, more accurately, pinched it closed) when the first-year med students have come fresh from the cadaver lab to fill the entire shuttle with the smells of formaldehyde and dead people. I've even posted snipey facebook statuses about it. Facebook karma is a topic for another blog entry, but seriously. This time it was me. I stunk up the shuttle. I was disgusting. I almost died from embarrassment. I'm sure everyone else almost died from terrible smell. But from now on, I will embrace those haggard, smelly med students. Actually, I won't. That would probably make me gag. BUT. I will be more sympathetic for sure.
And that is the story of the day my pride was swallowed not by me, but by the evil stench of forgotten Tupperware.
Note: I actually have nothing to add to this monster of a long blog entry, but I felt weird leaving the post un-addendum-ed. So there. Now I can sleep tonight.