Monday, September 29, 2008

The Reign of Terror

The lunch bandit lurked among us for years. And he didn't just steal your lunch--that would be too prosaic. He would steal the cheese from your sandwich and leave the rest. Or he'd stick his hand in your salad and leave an imprint just to let you know he'd been there. We all chipped in and bought a new refrigerator for the men's lounge, and bought keys for everyone who paid.

But one day after we locked it, the lunch bandit broke it. It was frustrating. We speculated it must be that crazy sub who was always screaming about politics. Or maybe it was the other one, the one who never stopped talking about who knows what. But the lunch bandit struck on days they weren't in the building, and one by one, we ruled them out.

Then one day, Mr. Quiet told me he saw the bandit, and wouldn't tell me who it was, only that his tie had gotten caught in the fridge when he saw him. But there were only two of us who actually wore ties, and since it wasn't me, I knew who it was. I had long stopped leaving my lunch there anyway.

About a year later, after Mr. Quiet was victimized 7 or 8 times over a three week period, Dr. Normal received a note in his mailbox. It said, "We know who you are. Stop doing this."

Dr. Normal approached me. "Why did you leave me this note?" he asked. But I hadn't left it, and I told him so.

Dr. Normal never set foot in the men's lounge again, no one's lunch was touched again, and Dr. Normal retired at the end of the year. Everyone was surprised, because Dr. Normal was so blatantly ordinary.

But still waters run insane.

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