Last Friday I go downtown. My wife wants to stop by her office and pick up a few things, so I figured, go with her, keep her company, and stop by mine. What in spring 2020 was an obligation has become, by spring 2021, an outing.
So I drop her off at the Thompson Center, park on Madison, enter the building for the first time in months, say hello to the guard, chat with the two colleagues who are also there—Jeff from IT, and John on the copy desk. Go into my office and start in on my pile of mail, begin listening to my 100 or so voicemails, 90 or so from the same guy. Give up that quickly.
Before I leave, I made a pit stop, and there I see it. How long has it been there? Not last Christmas, certainly. Maybe the Christmas before, we had a Christmas party. There was good food from local restaurants, fancy drinks and games, such as cornhole. I assume everyone is familiar with cornhole, a sort of shuffleboard where you toss beanbags onto an inclined board. You get a point for landing a beanbag on the board and three points if it goes into the hole. Fun for picnics and parties. I played a few rounds—how could you not?
I'd have never thought of it again. But afterward, whenever I walked down that hall, I noticed this one blue bean bag that must have been left behind. It was a pleasant reminder of the party—some years we didn't have parties—and I always sort of smiled at it. There's something friendly about a bean bag. Now that I think of it, maybe it wasn't from 2019. Maybe it was from 2018. Or even before. Time all blends together at this point.
This isn't a criticism of the sanitation of the place. It's always clean. But somehow, in its cleaning, the bean bag remains. I assume that has to be intentional, and therein lies the mystery. An in-joke of some sort? A statement? Some ghost-in-the-machine cleaning in the wee hours, deftly detouring around it, a slight jog of the broom, an act of mercy, the way you'll pity a missing sock?
I'm not sure I want to know. There must be some prosaic reason nowhere near the limits of imagination (the bean bag....thrown away of course ... stirs, and begins its arduous nightly climb out of the trash, ruffling through the papers, reaching the lip of the can and toppling out with a beany plop, slowly, determinedly crawling, expanding and contracting like a caterpillar, back toward its Beloved Spot...)
One of those Office Mysteries that make going into work in a place appealing. Back when we, you know, all went someplace to work.