I’m not very good at keeping steady schedules or routines, but I’ve made it a habit to be late to the office by exactly one hour every day. Yet like clockwork once a year I arrive at the office exactly one hour early. Why? Because of that damned daylight savings time. Lousy farmers.
The day of the incident was one of those days. I arrived at what I assumed was 10 AM, walked into the office expecting to see everyone busy at work, but instead saw that I was the lone soul in the office (or so I thought). I asked someone to pinch me to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, but the people who weren’t there ignored me. Jerks. I tried pinching myself to see if I was asleep, but that barely hurt so instead I got the stapler to do it for me. That one really hurt and I was convinced: I was definitely awake and unfortunately on time to work.
I needed my morning jolt of coffee so I made my way to the kitchen. As I walked down the hall to the kitchen I saw a shadowy figure emerging from the kitchen. Crap! A monster! I was dreaming after all! Or was this a dream within a dream? Did the stapler incept me? Damn you Swingline!
Thankfully, as the figure made its way into the lights I saw it was just Juliet. Phew. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, right into her face. She frowned at me and said “Eew gross. Thanks for that Baron von Morningbreath. Why are you here so early?”
“Daylight savings” I grumbled.
“Oh that’s right! I meant to remind you about that but I must have forgotten,” she said with a wry smile on her face. “Well now that you’re here, put yourself to good use and take care of Tommy. He’s passed out in the kitchen again.”
“Wait, why do I have to deal with him. You saw him first. Finders keepers!”
“Nice try, but he’s your responsibility. Remember when you convinced us to hire him?”
She had me there. I did convince everyone to hire him. They were against the hire because his resume was written in crayon, but he reminded me of a young Ryan. A young Ryan who used to eat crayons.
“Fine,” I said grudgingly, “but will you do me one favor first?”
“Sure, what do you need?”
“Can you pinch me? I really don’t trust that stapler.”
“Ugh, how many times do I have to tell you no.” she said and stormed away.
I walked into the kitchen and saw Tommy there, passed out and wearing his trademark Jnco jeans. Juliet claimed he threw a rave in the office the night before, but I found that hard to believe. Tommy is utterly incapable of doing the most basic of tasks, with the notable exception of being a disappointment. That was the one thing he didn’t lie about on his resume.
I gave him a swift kick to the ribs and roused him awake. He got up slowly, staggered around the kitchen, and mumbled something in inscrutable whale song. I told him to wipe the glow-stick residue from his mouth and sit in the time-out corner. He started plodding his way out when something caught his eye. The toaster!
I had warned my colleagues about Tommy’s penchant for all things shiny and reflective. The toaster was both. He made his way nervously toward it, studying it from every angle, and then ripped it out of the socket and held it above his head.
“Tommy smash?” he said to me.
“No Tommy! No smash! Down!” I screamed.
“Friend?” he said, pointing to the toaster with a confused look on his face.
“Yes, Tommy, friend! No smashing friends! Remember?” I pleaded.
After a few more seconds of studying the toaster, he put it down, walked over to me, sniffed my crotch, and made his way to the time out corner as directed. Phew, that was a close one. I checked to make sure Juliet’s breakfast was unharmed by Tommy’s little episode and thankfully both her food and the toaster were intact.
With Tommy in his time out corner–which is more of an asbestos-filled crawl space than a corner–I sat down at my desk to think of a better punishment for him. The rest of the ladies in the office made their way in, unfathomably chipper for that time of day. I couldn’t hear myself think over their early morning banter and figured I’d get up and take a walk to clear my mind.
As I circled the office for the 3rd time I saw fire #1 through the kitchen window. Now, I’ve never been to a female slumber party, but I can only imagine what ensued in the panic after the fire is identical: lots of screaming, running around in a panic, all ending with the ritualistic spraying of water and compressed foam. From my vantage point I didn’t couldn’t tell what the commotion was about, but as the resident male I felt it my chivalrous duty to make sure everyone was safe. Plus Juliet was covered in foam, and I was definitely going to Instagram that.
When I came back, I was given the harrowing tale of the toaster fire. I kind of zoned out because I was really mining for information about female slumber parties, especially the foam part. Plus, frankly, I didn’t much care for the toaster. I am diametrically opposed to the entire concept of toasted bread. It’s unnatural. Let is get stale and crispy on its own. Don’t play God with your carbs.
Anyway, all this happened before my usual 10 AM entrance and I still hadn’t had my coffee. I figured I deserved a nap, so I went to the crawl space and told Tommy to spend the rest of the afternoon digging a hole as punishment. I knew that wasn’t actually punishment for Tommy. It was actually how he spent his lunch breaks before returning with a dirt covered bone, but I just wanted to take a damn nap.
I slept for a couple of hours nestled under a soft blanket of asbestos, and awoke to serious caffeine withdrawal. I figured the ladies had finished their slumber/foam party, so I went to the kitchen to see if there was any coffee left. Ugh. No coffee in sight. I started to make my own coffee when I was interrupted by the sound of tiny footsteps. I turned around and saw a baby in the kitchen. “Hi baby!” I said. That’s how I address babies when I don’t know know their name. “Are you lost? Where did your Mommy go?”
“Shit if I know. What am I, her biographer?” the baby shot back at me.
This seemed strange. Despite being a former baby myself, I was pretty sure they couldn’t talk. This was more evidence I was dreaming dreaming after all. We definitely needed a new stapler. Still, I’d seen babies sass talk in those weird commercials, so I shrugged it off and figured it was normal.
I tried to remember who on our staff had a baby. Or if we hired one to watch Tommy. Then I remembered our non-resident columnist had a kid. “Oh, you must be Stephanie’s baby!”
“And you must be Sherlock freaking Holmes” the baby responded curtly. Then Baby spat on the floor and made his way toward me.
“Got a light?” Baby asked me as he whipped out an unfiltered cigarette from his diaper. “The flint on this piece of crap lighter is broken.”
“Sorry, no, I don’t smoke.” Then I thought for a second. I didn’t think babies were supposed to smoke. Maybe I should tell him. “I don’t think babies are supposed to smoke.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t think you’re supposed to bathe in that Axe body spray” Baby retorted. This was one smart baby. He was the third person to tell me that today, and the first to do so without cursing. I figured he knew what he was doing, so I let him carry about his business.
Then Baby climbed up onto the counter, walked over to the toaster, and proceeded to light his cigarette.
“Careful!” I screamed. “You might light yourself on fire.”
“I’m about to light your mom on fire if you don’t shut it, chuckles” Baby shot back. No one had called me chuckles since grade school. This baby wasn’t just smart, he was a mind-reader. “Don’t worry, I’ve been using this thing all morning since no one in this freaking office has a damn light. Bunch of prudes.”
Then after Baby lit his cigarette and took a puff the lighter fell into the toaster. Baby screamed what I thought was a curse word but I had to look up later to make sure (it was). Then it turned to me, glared, and said, “You didn’t see nothing, capice?”
“Capice,” I said, whatever that meant. Now I had two words to look up. What a day. I slowly backed out of the room and made my way back to the crawl space far from that mean Baby.
From what I’ve pieced together, a second fire broke out shortly after Baby dropped his lighter in the toaster, for which Sarah was unfairly blamed. Although I was in the crawl space cowering in fear, I’m pretty sure I know exactly what happened.
Baby was clearly responsible for the second fire. I saw the spark that caused the flames with my bare eyes! But I’d wager dollars to smoked scones he also caused the first one. Baby did say, after all, he’d been using the toaster to light cigarettes all day. Who knows what else fell into the toaster while he was sparking it earlier on?
What about the scent of Axe body spray and White Diamonds you ask? A cover up by Mrs. Baby! A mother’s instinct, after all, is to protect their young. Or eat them in the case of the praying mantis, but this baby was 100% pure-bred human. Clearly Stephanie walked in on Baby after dropping his lighter into the toaster, realized she had to cover Baby’s tracks, and left a smattering of “clues” around the office leading to everyone except her progeny. Scones with a hand-written note from Tommy? Please! There were articles and punctuation marks in that note! Plus he ate all the crayons in the office weeks ago and had nothing to write with.
So that’s what happened. Case closed. Finito. Capice. Whoops, sorry, didn’t mean to curse there. Now if anyone wants me, I’ll be in the crawl space, hiding from a vengeful baby.