Ah, the morning coffee break.
Is there any nicer gesture in the working world than a handful of minutes generously gifted to you by the "Man" where you can relax in molded-plastic sitting comfort with just enough time to go through the latest job postings on Indeed? Nope. Nope, there ain't.
In fact, it's sooo relaxing one might even mellow out to the point where the looming prospect of a random company drug search which could happen at any time has completely slipped the...
Oh, poopy. There's a dog in the break room.
When the boss stepped into the employee break room/ locker room/ meeting nook during first coffee, my first thought was to hiss like a vampire. Weird reflex, right? But it was just that. Weird. The boss never comes into the break room beyond the morning toolbox meeting. And he's an alright guy, really. It was just alien to have him enter our den, so to speak.
Guards automatically went up for everyone sitting, butt-holes puckered in yellow alert.
Following the boss was the company safety inspector. Also never a good sign. Following him was...a dog? And then another guy after that, holding the leash. Everyone was still weary, but many visibly relaxed at the sight of the animal. Pets tend to put people at ease. At least, until they realized what the animal's visit meant.
At first I thought maybe we were all supposed to bring something for show and tell or something. Shit! Was I supposed to bring my cat? What else could I show? Did one of my seat-mates bring a couple hamsters to boast about? Maybe I could borrow one...
And then I too, slower than most, picked up on the real reason for the dog coming into the gathering room: random drug search.
Pfff! That's all this is? No worries, then. I was more relaxed in the presence of the sniffer dog then when I was trying to figure out where I could find a spare hamster. If you know me personally, you'd know I'm probably one of the cleanest people around. Drugs? I've barely touched aspirin. Smoking? Never saw the appeal. And I'm too cheap. Same with tattoos. Too cheap. Some booze, yes, but never enough to embarrass myself. I'm just too cheap.
So, as the dog and his trainer went around the room, sniffing at everything (the dog, not the trainer), I watched with curious bemusement for a while as I munched on edibles from my lunch box. I expected a German Shepherd for drug busts, but it was instead a rather playful looking Golden Lab/Retriever sin mix. After about a minute, I grew bored (attention span of the 21st century, what can I say?) and turned back to my phone to check on my stocks which, surely by this point, will have torpedoed through the bottom of the performance charts and burrow into the ground beneath analysts' feet.
Apparently, while I was checking up on my misbehaving investments, preoccupied with trying to find a way to explain to my young children why daddy put their college funds into pork bellies instead of a sensible RESP, the sniffer dog was apparently going nuts in front of my locker. And, since no one cares about anyone else these days, let alone are aware of which lockers belong to whom, no one watching the event taking place could identify the locker's owner, which was, of course, little ol' me.
It was only when my supervisor was on his phone with his boss and said "Yeah, looks like the dog zoned in on a locker. Number 16...No, don't know whose it is yet..." that I clued in.
Now, I'm a dork most of the time as it is. It comes easily to me. But I'm sure I reached a whole new level of bow-tie affinity that day, even for me. My brain, only half paying attention to the goings-on around me, misfired a signal to my mouth before it could even contemplate what an inadequate zombie snack it would make.
"Sixteen? That's MY locker!"
Everyone turned to face me, staring blankly at the source of vapid stupidity which had just laid siege upon their ears. Even the dog was looking around as if thinking Did he just say what I think he said?
"Mezzer, this is your locker?" the boss man eventually said.
The room cleared out, co-workers scurrying like rats abandoning a doomed dingy, leaving me the sole lucky recipient of an invasive locker search.
You see, any sensible human with a modicum of street smarts would have known better than to admit being the proud owner of a locker which, mere moments before, had been ousted by a narcotic sniffing drug hound. Yessiree, a socially well-adjusted patron of the planet would have denied any ties to that locker with Judas-like gusto.
"Sixteen? Sixteen? Nah, doesn't ring a bell. In fact, the whole number sounds made-up, y'know? Sounds a bit fishy if you ask me. I think that's actually Jason's locker, now that I think of it..."
And, just for good measure, someone with a lick of sense would then distract the accusers by feigning a sudden case of IBS and rushing to the bathroom, pulling the smoke alarm in the hallway, thus causing a mass, chaotic personnel exodus as people fled for their lives. Such a resourceful and forward-thinking individual would then douse the entire locker room in gasoline, setting a match to it, then fleeing immediately to Rio, where extradition doesn't exist.
But I don't tend to think very far into the future. And such a fine quality of non-planning got me nothing less then the entire contents of my locker spread out across a table, airport security style.
Before doing so, however, the drug dog's handler informed me, oh so seriously, about how frighteningly accurate these dogs were at identifying various narcotics, and offered me a chance to declare any unlawful substances I may have stashed in my locker. I denied possessing any such bad juju, and cordially invited him to explore the inner workings of my locker with wild abandon, but that I would not be held responsible should anything in there bite him.
As they searched through my locker's contents, the dog sniffing at each item one by one, I couldn't help but chuckle at the situation. I'm about the cleanest, lamest person you'd ever meet. For a drug dog to have singled me out in a random drug search is, really, completely ridicul-
"We found something," the dog whisperer said.
They found my stash. How was I going to explain this?
The inspector reached into my locker, waaay at the back of the top shelf, and pulled out a nondescript plastic grocery bag, filled with something substantial. The dog was whimpering loudly at the sight of the bag, shuffling quickly back and forth as if to say Ayuh, that's it! That's it, alright! I smelt it a mile away, I did! Oh boy oh boy, that's it! Ayuh!
Out on the table, the narcotics guy opened the white plastic bag, peered at it for a few seconds, then grimaced in confusion. He tilted the open maw of the bag towards my boss so he could see the contents, then they both looked at me like I was something altogether alien to them.
"Umm, okay," said the big cheese. "Why, uh, do you have so many... what is this?"
"Oh, that?" I said coyly. (I love being coy. Doesn't happen very often, but when it does, hooo baby!) "Those are called pens. You use them to write on paper and your friends faces when they're passed out drunk on the couch."
Dog-man rolled his eyes at that one. F-ing A.
"I mean, why do you have a bag full of, what, two hundred pens in here?"
"Ha! Yeah, that's a funny story." Though it wasn't, really. I just said that to try and break the ice a bit. He seemed tense.
There are never, never, any gad-dang pens at work. The supply vending machines will only issue you one a month (I know, right??), and so pens are valued above anything else out there. He who wields a pen will, if he is a kind-hearted soul, lend it benevolently to those in need, basking in the King-like stature which it affords him. Pens out there are like Precious' to their Golums, corrupting men as they move from owner to owner. So I sought to reset the balance. At home was a junk cabinet full of pens which I'd been meaning to clean every time we've moved for the last ten years. One evening, I sifted through the lot of 'em, making piles. Smooth, enjoyable pens would remain at home to enjoy the comforts of forced air heating and occasional Netflix. Mediocre yet functional pens would be brought to work and distributed Robin Hood style among the working peasants, to be used as single-use writing implements and coffee stir sticks. The lazy, good for nothing dried-ink tubes of false hope were to be loaded into a rocket and launched into space on a collision course with the sun.
The dog handler informs me pens can set off a dog's sniffer for a number of drug related reasons, one of them being that people will use the hollowed-out pen tubes as straws for cocaine and such. Not to mention that pens pass between people like pocket change, and that even trace amounts found on pens from a drug user just handling them is plenty to set off the dog's nose.
It made for a good story, at any rate. And it was actually quite funny, at least from my perspective. Who would have thought you could get busted for carrying pens? Say no to ink, kids.
Oh, and I got to keep the pens. Score!
Feel free to write to Biography of a Nobody while Mezzer is in the Pen' for holding! Ha! Get it?? Soo, funny, I know.