Monday, January 27, 2003

I was out of the office for two days, and when I returned someone had left a bolt, a nut, and a washer on my desk.

I looked about for something that was falling apart. Nothing apparent. I turned my swivel chair over; nope, it has completely different kinds of hardware.

Monday morning, and they're still there. No one has mentioned them. I'm baffled. Is this perhaps *not* a prosaic furniture situation? Is it perhaps cosmic? Is Someone trying to tell me I'm getting old, and falling apart? I wouldn't call that a news flash. At 52, I'm pretty well aware that parts are starting to get loose and fall off, or out.

Or is this a science fiction adventure? Are these three little parts perhaps lost objects from another universe? Maybe this happens all the time, and we just don't realize it. Everyone knows that laundry dryers are gateways through which single socks escape to some happier sock-heaven. Maybe these errant items--all kinds of things that get lost everywhere--*all* turn up, unexplained, un-noticed, in other universes. I'm pretty sure I've seen a few at rural estate sales. There are always one or two items--usually in the kitchenware or out in the barn--whose purpose is a complete mystery not only to me but to everyone I ask. Now I suspect that they were created in another universe to do jobs that exist only Over There. If we could reverse-engineer them, maybe we'd find out what the other universes are like. Then the question would be: who cares? Don't we have enough to do trying to exist in our own?

On a more down-to-Earth level, maybe some workman did something with the lights or mysteries above the false ceiling, above my cubicle, while I was gone. If so, that begs the question: what's dangling by one-too-few bolts up there, gently swaying in the super-ceiling breezes, waiting to drop on my head when I least expect it?

The scariest question of all: Did I request this hardware? I certainly don't think so, but hey, this is government, and I might have wanted a bolt, a nut, and a washer four and a half years ago and sent in a request for them, and then with the turning of the calendars' pages, forgotten all about it. Or I might have ordered it last Tuesday and forgotten all about it. How would I know, if I've got lacunae in my memory? Am I going crazy? Do I have Alzheimer's--and how the heck would I tell, anyway, when I've been prone to forgetting things all my adult life (I don't remember what I forgot in my childhood)?

On the other hand, someone might have placed them here just to drive me nuts. So to speak. Just to set off this very cascade of ever-more-panicked ruminations. What diabolical mind would *do* this to someone?

--Just a sec, the phone's ringing--

Back now. Where was I?

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