I’ve been grumpy at work lately. It may be due to the fact that I’ve been given additional job duties. It used to be that I could finish my tasks, even working about a week ahead, and still have plenty of down time to decompress. Now, I’m working all day, every day — and I’m lucky to finish stuff that needs to be ready for the next day by quitting time the day before. It’s like they expect me to work at work! The nerve!
I’m also pretty tired — a combination of staying up too late, being stressed at work, and because I’ve started training for my big walk in Spain this spring. I change into my workout clothes and go for a run during my lunch hour 2-3 days a week. Now, when I say “go for a run,” what I really mean is I shuffle/jog for a bit, until my lungs start to hurt, or my knee twinges, or I twist my ankle — and then I slow down to a walk for a half mile or so, working up the gumption to start the shuffle/jog thing again. The other day, I was motivated enough to do a couple of sets of squats when I got too tired to shuffle anymore. My thighs, which I thought were pretty strong from climbing mountains every weekend, are quite unhappy with me today.
About 2:30 every afternoon, I’m frustrated with work and so tired that I’m tempted to lock my office door and take a nap on the floor. Because my boss would frown on this, I usually end up pushing down my feelings and increasing my energy by eating something salty or chocolate, or I drink a cola — with all the sugar and caffeine.
Today, I had planned ahead. I took a couple of no-name cola drinks to work — no-name because I’m trying to be frugal and save money for Spain. The prospect of having a real Pepsi or Coke is just a fantasy at this point. One of the cola cans was diet and one had full sugar, just in case things got dicey at work. And things did get dicey. I wasn’t even able to eat my lunch until about 2:30, so I was more than ready for my chicken sandwich and my cola.
Things seemed to be going my way once I got to the break room. Someone had discarded a fast food honey-mustard packet on the table…and I love me some honey-mustard on my chicken sandwiches. I prepared my sandwich, grabbed my low-fat chips, and opened the fridge to get my full-sugar caffeinated cola product, practically salivating at the prospect of this perfect lunch.
But my cola wasn’t there!
The diet cola was all alone on the refrigerator shelf.
I didn’t want a diet soda! I needed sugar! ALL of the sugar!!
“Son of a bitch!” I swore, immediately incensed. Who would steal a soda? I needed my no-name cola!
Like a heroin junkie who was desperate for their next fix, only to find that someone had nabbed their stash — I went a little crazy.
I decided I was going to track down the culprit, and I began to cruise through the clinic, looking for my distinctive no-name cola can in the various trash bins at each desk. One of the nurses, we’ll call her Laura Ann, asked me what I was looking for and I explained that someone had taken my cola and I was looking for evidence. She immediately assured me that she did not know anything about it and it couldn’t have been her, as she did not drink soft drinks.
My next stop was just steps away, in an office where two nurses sat while they returned patient calls. Conveniently, they had a recycle bin next to the door with many flattened soda cans in it. I immediately saw that my cola can was not there and I smiled and told them, “Well, you’re safe! I don’t see my…..” Then I saw it. My no-name cola can was clutched in one of the nurse’s hands as she took a sip.
I gaped at the offender (we’ll call her Carlotta).
“You? You stole my cola?” Carlotta was a quiet, easy to like gal. I was shocked at her thievery!
“Oh, is this yours?” She said innocently. “I guess I owe you a Coke.”
I was suddenly furious, “Yes! Yes, you do. And I’d like you to go down to the vending machines and get me one now, as I’m ready to eat my lunch and I brought that cola as part of my lunch.”
Her eyes widened and she looked at the other nurses. “Laura Ann told me I could have it!” She attempted to explain. “I asked her, ‘Whose soda is this?’ and Laura Ann told me I should just ahead and drink it.”
Yes, the same Laura Ann who had told me just moments earlier she had no idea what had happened to my cola!
I called over to her, “So, Laura Ann — Carlotta is implicating you in the theft.” I was not really kidding — and she knew it.
“Well, was your name on it?” She asked, with attitude.
“Yeah,” said Vera — a nurse that wasn’t even involved in the conversation, “Was your name on it?”
“Really? Nice, very nice! Let’s blame the victim!” I shot back as I stomped away.
Now, they have a point. There a rule that we are supposed to have our names and dates on anything we put in the refrigerator. The muckity-mucks in charge were tired of abandoned items rotting in the fridge for weeks on end, stinking up the place and basically being incredibly disgusting. No one wanted to be the poor sap asked to clean out the fridge when things got too bad. So, we were told that our names needed to be on our food items and that everything left in the refrigerator, containers and all, would be thrown out every Friday night.
I think we’ve already established that I have a problem with authority. Plus, I don’t abandon my food (the very thought gives me chills) — I take my lunch and I eat it that same day. Even with the “name” rule, does that give anyone the right to rifle through the refrigerator and eat or drink anything they want that does not have a name on it?
By the time I got back to my office and had a few minutes to cool down, I was a tad chagrined about my outburst. I’m normally pretty easy-going and I don’t get involved in, let alone create, any drama. I just knew that all of the nurses were back there gossiping about what a bitch I was and asking each other who in the world got so crazed about a no-name cola? I almost felt like I should write an email to Carlotta and apologize for my anger.
But I couldn’t and wouldn’t. While I wished I had been more diplomatic about things, I felt like apologizing would be an endorsement that it was not a big deal to steal something that belonged to someone else. Whether it was a soda or a wallet — isn’t stealing, stealing? And, unless Carlotta was in danger of going into a diabetic coma and needed an immediate infusion of sugar to save her life, isn’t stealing wrong?
Moments later, Carlotta called me and said, “I put your Coke in the fridge…” I was ready to thank her and allow bygones to be bygones, until she added, “…with your NAME ON IT.”
But my righteous indignation did not keep me from retrieving and enjoying my Coke — an actual Coca-Cola, vastly superior to my no-name cola! It was almost worth the drama!