Please refrain from throwing out decaying plant matter during business hours
Today was appearantly the day for getting rid of wilted floral arrangements at work. I just walked by a sink and saw what was once probably a very lovely arrangement in pinks and reds, dry and faded, ready to be tossed and the vase washed. Earlier I too threw out my past-its-prime arrangement, except mine was more than wilted. It was worse. Waaaaay worse.
In all honesty, I was negligent. But it was hard to part with this exotic, gorgeous thing my boyfriend surprised me with on my birthday. The arrangement was called “opposites attract” and it was arranged in a large glass rectangle, about 2 feet high by 8 inches wide. The container was filled with wavy willow twigs of the brightest, most fresh green. On the top were some pale green succulents and four perfect Lady Slipper orchids. The entire arrangement weighed at least 10 pounds. I was awestruck.
The orchids lasted at least a week, possibly longer. Once their time was past, I removed them, happy to look on at the twigs and succulents, which were doing just fine. Then we went to South Beach. And when we came back, the thing was ripe. I ignored it for a few days because I still didn’t get where I was picking up this random scent from. I thought my nose had grown super sensitive and that I was smelling the cigarettes off our proof-reader who sits two cubes behind me. But when I started smelling the odor coming from my desk, I started looking for other possibilities and then it dawned on me.
My once gorgeous exotic rectangular glass vase now looked a bit more like a terranium, if you could put a swamp in one. The bright green twigs now looked sallow and pale. A filmy white fuzz was clinging to the sides of the glass. I inched closer to it. Took a whiff. Oh. My. God. Did something die in there? Holy crap, what am I going to do?
I didn’t want to lose the vase. It was heavy, big, unusual. I envisioned gerbera daisies or maybe a few sprigs of pussywillow or a bird of paradise. So I was intent on saving the vase. But to do so, I would have to get the twigs out. And the twigs were cut to fit end to end and fill in the entire glass rectangle. And then there was the issue of the swamp water, the Eau d’Mort, the, what I now realized, was a thick soup of decay, mold, and god knows what anaerobic bacteria were multiplying by the million in there.
I took the glass into our large pantry, along with a very large and thick plastic bag. I opened the bag in the sink, and poured the contents of the glass into it. The succulents came out, and one or two twigs, then a powerful reek that I really thought might make me vomit. But that was it! There were still dozens of twigs powerfully lodged into the narrow vessel.
I immediately tied up the bag and threw it in the garbage, then tied up the bag that was in the garbage can. I did not want ANYONE in the office smelling this reek. Then someone walked in the kitchen. Oh god. Please don’t let them smell it. I needed a plan and I needed one fast, so I turned on the hot water and let it get boiling hot. I’ll run this over the twigs and kill the scent and then flood them out, I thought.
Not so fast there, smartypants.
The hot water only made the swamp death scent bloom, and soon the kitchen smelled like Miami CSI had decided to use our pantry to process some cold case dredged up from the bottom of the Everglades. I started looking for instruments with which I could push, pull, or otherwise dislodge the twigs. A metal spoon! No dice, wasn’t long enough. A metal spatula! It barely made a dent, helping loose one or two stinky sticks but no more! FINALLY…TONGS! The twigs were so firmly placed in the glass that even the tongs were no match for the bouquet of death.
Panic began to take over as more and more people passed through the kitchen. So far, everyone had been too polite to comment on the stench, increasing my paranoia. If they are not saying anything, it must be REALLY bad, and also, UNIDENTIFYABLE. No one is saying anything because it smells like death in here and no one knows why except here I am, in a pencil skirt and high heel boots no less, up to my elbows in a glass rectangle, prodding away at sticks with a spatula. Not a good look.
Finally I couldn’t take it any more. I didn’t want to get fired. It was that bad. On the one hand, I thought of how surprised I was by my boyfriend’s sophisticated and unexpected good taste. An exotic floral arrangement in a heavy glass container. So sculptural, so elegant, so understated, so absolutely perfectly me. He was so happy because he knew he scored. I was so happy because it was so unexpected. But my reverie was broken by a kind soul, finally, someone, who was honest enough to say “hey, it rather stinks in here, doesn’t it?”
Finally, I had to give up, and I threw the whole thing in the garbage, called maintenance to have them throw out the garbage like IMMEDIATELY, scrubbed myself up to the elbows in scalding water and dish detergent, and I actually LEFT the scene of the crime so that I could not implicate myself any further. It was THAT bad.
I couldn’t get the swamp death stench out of my nostrils for several hours later. I even cleared my throat and got an all-too-vivid reminder of just how bad my once beautiful arrangement smelled after it had been sitting in water for a few weeks.
For several hours later, I worried that an all-points bulliten would go out via email: please refrain from disposing of decaying organic matter during business hours. But I would get away with it…this time.