Readers, it’s true confession time: I don’t lead a normal life. Odd, comical things happen when I’m around, as if I’m a magnet for the bizarre. These things don’t happen to my friends, so it must be me…
(WARNING: the follow excerpt is true, and contains graphic descriptions that may cause nausea, dizziness, and discomfort. Please don’t read further if you have a sensitive constitution):
My day was going well. All I had to do was go down to the local paper to tape three segments in a new video series they’ve started for their features section. Every Monday through Friday they’re running short, three minute clips of someone doing something related to that section.
They wanted gardening and since I’m their garden columnist (freelance), my editor convinced me to be the person they tape. Friday was the big day, and I went to their studio armed with shelves, seed trays, seeds, potting mix, lights, big bowls, and, of course, fertilizer.
The audience, I knew, would not respond well to my waving around a popular brand of liquid fertilizer from a mega-corporation, so I opted for organic fish emulsion. The taping went fine and when I got ready to leave, a student intern from a local college was asked to help me carry all this stuff out of the building.
This nice fellow decided that several trips were unnecessary; he piled up all of my supplies into one gigantic load. It looked like a Dr. Seuss tower, with things precariously balanced here and there. The fish emulsion was riding point out in front.
I must say I warned him. I did, truly. I said “that won’t ride well,” and “seriously, that’s not gonna ride there.” But I was assured the load was stable. Off we went, wending our way back past archives and into the newsroom.
Half-way through, just in front of my editor’s desk, tragedy struck. The bottle of fish emulsion leapt to its death, its cap shattering as it hit the floor. Being a thick liquid, the force of the impact caused the bottle to belch its contents all over the place.
Oh no No NO!…it splattered across the linoleum floor and along the cubicle walls. Walls which, unfortunately, are made of fabric. It went under the cubicle walls and oozed in between seams of the panels – fish gore was everywhere. The intern quickly put down his Seuss-tower and up righted the bottle, then hustled to the bathroom to get something to clean it up.
My editor came around her desk to view the carnage, as the intern returned with one paper towel. Now, fish emulsion like this is thick, oily, and made to be diluted. The editor looked at the towel, looked at the mess, then back at the towel, and headed off to get a jumbo size armload of wipe-ups.
Then the smell started to rise, and it was bad. Cesspool-fish bad. The bottle claimed it was deodorized, but this stuff smelled like fish-yak. Exposed to the air by the frantic attempts at clean-up, it became overpowering. The newsroom was stunned by the smell – they stopped working, staring in frozen horror as the odor washed over them. A counterattack was launched; Lysol volleys sprang through the air over the tops of the cubicles.
The fish-yak answered with a surge, after a passerby unknowingly stepped in a puddle of ooze then tracked it down the hallway. I poured water, the intern scrubbed, the editor kept supplying him with more towels, but it was too late to save the newsroom.
Casualties mounted. One lady, faltering under the stench, rushed up to report that “That stuff really stinks!” Attempting to be brave, I responded “it smells like spring.” In hindsight, that was less of an inspirational speech than I should have delivered. “NO IT DOESN’T,” she screamed.
My day got worse. You see, I write for another paper too, a sister to this one. And my editor for that one has his office in the same building. I’d never met him in person before this day; we’ve always just emailed.
You guessed it. In the middle of “the incident” he came around the corner saying “who’s eating sardines – OH WHAT IS THAT??” All I could do was feebly wiggle my fingers at him in a small wave and say “hi. I guess you should know that this is how I roll.”
Wow, what a disaster. After it was mostly cleaned up I fled, the intern trotting alongside of me as if I could help him with his extraction from the angry mob. I feel bad for him, especially since he was kind, hard working, and professional through the whole ordeal. It should make an interesting addition to his student report, but I know the ending to this chapter: I seriously doubt they’ll let me come back in the building.