Most of us can go to work every day and get along well enough with the majority of our co-workers... until someone screws with our snacks. The sad thing is, in my case, it wasn't even a snack. It was the case of the disappearing ice pack that I use to keep my snacks chilled. I work in a medical clinic. I admit, if I saw a co-worker walking around with my ice pack on their fat lip because a patient got miffed about a co-pay and beat their face to a pulp, I might feel a little bad. But even then I'd probably be thinking: "Geez... it's a medical facility. That's the only ice pack you could come up with?"
So here are all my co-workers, pretending to care about my lost ice pack and even worse, pretending to look for my lost ice pack. Five women, shoulder deep in the freezer on top, refrigerator on bottom, all huddled in there, joining forces supposedly determined to solve the great ice pack mystery. They searched high and low, often elbowing each other out of the way in the process. A couple of times one would uncrouch herself from the refrigerator only to get bunked in the back of the head with the freezer door by one of her teammates.
I stood back and let them proceed with their mission. And I'll be honest, call me a cynical New Yorker, but something didn't ring true about the whole scene. It reminded me of when you're in third grade and the teacher calls on you when you didn't raise your hand and have no idea of the answer so you "search" for the answer: On a blank page in your notebook, out the window, in the braid of the girl in front of you, until the teacher mercifully gets the hint and moves onto someone else.
And still these women, risking hypothermia to save the life of my little ice pack, out there all alone in the cold, cold, world, proceeded with the charade often offering absurd possibilities: "Maybe it fell on the floor." "Check the garbage. Maybe someone threw it out accidentally" All the while I'm scrutinizing each one thinking: "One of you shady motherfuckers took my ice pack."
It's textbook. Arsonists hang around to watch the fire burn. Murderers help search woods for people they've folded neatly into the trunk of their car. Ice pack thieves return to the scene of the crime and join in the hunt.
I fought the urge to say: "Here, let me help" while pushing them all aside and hurling each item out of the refrigerator a handful at a time, until there was nothing left in there but a light bulb.
Instead, I stood back with my arms folded to give room for the crook and her accomplices-after-the-fact to continue perpetuating this obvious fraud, I'm looking around the tiny kitchen and wondering where kitchen security was when I needed them. You know, the self-appointed kitchen police. Every job has one. You know, the woman who is so fed up with the rest of us, she has 8 signs screaming at you from the top of their little paper lungs all over the 6 x 8 room:
"Clean up after yourself! There is no maid!" And if you didn't get that subtle hint, three feet away there's:
"Keep this place clean! Your mother doesn't work here!" "Any food left in the refrigerator on Friday at 5PM will be thrown out!"
She's very vocal, yet nobody knows who's responsible for those signs because she puts them up when nobody's there and they're all done on a computer so coincidentally nobody can analyze the handwriting.
I remained there, watching the five asses of varying widths sticking out of the refrigerator/freezer and thought to myself: "If this whole fiasco goes on much longer I'm going to add my own signs: 'Return my ice pack or else...!!!' and 'Please be considerate of your co-workers. Refrain from wearing black thong underwear under white clothing!!!'
I planned my strategy. I figured I'd smoke out the perpetrator. I'd embarrass them into returning the damn thing. To everybody I came into contact with for the rest of the day I casually mentioned:
"My ice pack is missing from the freezer. It's about yay big and dark blue. If you happen to see it..." and of course I prefaced this plea with: "It's really not a big deal, but..." to all 87 people I told.
I stopped short of printing up a photo I had on my phone of us at a picnic, drawing black magic marker arrows pointing to the ice pack, and wallpapering the facility (even the waiting room) with the copies with the caption:
"Have you seen me?" (Reward: If returned, I'll consider not publicly humiliating you by sending an email with your picture to everyone who works in the building.)
And guess what I found in the freezer, right where I left it, bright and early the very next morning?
Hmmm... I looked around the medical clinic at all the nice, friendly, cheery staff and thought: "Like I said: 'One of you shady motherfuckers took my ice pack."