“Someone left a dolphin in the break room.”
“Huh??” is the only reply I can think of. I’m on the phone with a project manager at work, and the subject of this particular phone call is not exactly what I was expecting.
The PM continues. “Yeah, a stuffed dolphin, in the break room on my floor. They left it here the same way they leave their leftover food out for people to eat. But it’s a stuffed toy.”
I consider this for a moment. What motivates someone to pack a stuffed dolphin along with their lunch box, ultimately with the goal of discarding it in the office break room? “Are you sure it’s been abandoned?” I ask. You never know. Maybe whoever it belongs to brings it every day as a lunch buddy and they didn’t realize that Flipper had been left behind.
“It’s been here for a couple of weeks,” the PM confirms. “It has a sign on it that says ‘Free’”.
“People are so strange,” is all I can muster, because again, I’m rather at a loss for words over this. It’s not unusual to find ‘help yourself’ signs attached to items in the break room, but normally the giveaways are leftover sandwiches from a lunch meeting, or fruit from someone’s garden. Stuffed toys up for grabs is definitely new territory in our office.
“And, V, it’s….it’s kind of dirty,” the PM continues, a hint of disgust in his voice.
And because apparently my cubicle is turning into the island of misfit toys, within ten minutes of hanging up the phone the PM comes bounding down the aisle, clutching the stuffed dolphin by its dorsal fin (I’ll have you know, I wrote ‘dorsal fin’ but then Google’d it to make sure that the fin on the dolphin’s back really is a dorsal fin and it IS, so go me). He’d wrapped a paper towel around it first so he wouldn’t actually have to make contact with the dirty fuzz and risk getting whatever diseases it may be carrying. The thing was decidedly grubby, but not so much so that a trip through the washing machine wouldn’t set it right, which you’d think a person would do before bringing it into their place of business and offering it up as a giveaway.
I have no idea what to do with this stuffed dolphin I’d been presented with but my boss jumps into action, grabs it by the paper-towel-clad dorsal fin, sticks it into a cardboard box, and closes the lid. For ambiance he affixes a paper printout of a beach to the front of the box, I guess so that the dolphin will feel as though it’s been returned to the sea.
I suppose I should feel good about the fact that we gave the poor dear a home…but when I walk by the box I notice that he’s starting to smell just a bit and I wonder how long we’ll have a dolphin in a box in our row. All signs point to for the rest of my career, with any lingering smell being blamed on someone’s lunch.