The Oatmeal Bowl

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Work is usually pretty boring for me. I don’t have an office full of fun personalities to talk to or hang out with. Other jobs have been great because I worked with fun people who I’m still friends with today. Now? Not so much.

Most days consist of me sitting in my office dealing with administrative tasks, troubleshooting problems, playing Scrabble online, answering faculty email, and counting down the hours to the end of the day. This week, however, has given me some fodder. Good thing too because I’ve been struggling to come up with humorous material.

Bowlgate 2010

In an attempt to be healthy, I’ve changed my breakfast routine. I figure since I’m starting a new life in many ways, I showed rethink my nutrition. I’m not giving up my daily mocha. That would just make me bitchy and the point of all this is for me to be better, mentally and physically.

Instead of my usual Pop-tart, donut, or chocolate croissant (or skipping breakfast entirely), I’ve started eating oatmeal. I enjoy a nice bowl of raisins and spice as I peruse my email. The breakfast leaves me feeling full, somewhat alert, and like I’ve just done a favor for my intestinal tract. And my blood sugar doesn’t go all wonky, so that’s good too.

Oatmeal, however, is very sticky. Without the aid of a scrub brush, handwashing my bowl becomes a time-consuming task that results in me scraping stuck pieces of oatmeal off with my fingernails. Though I’m not one to get manicures, I still don’t want pieces of my breakfast under my nails. The office is apparently too cheap to spring for a brush and I refuse to bring one in out of principle. The best option for me is to soak the bowl for a bit and come back later after the gooieness has dissolved and I can simply rinse and dry.

There is a woman in the office who we’ll call The Loudmouth. She is the big boss’s assistant and this somehow gives her a skewed sense of authority. She can often be found trying to manage everyone in the office. This same woman complained that we were all using too much printer paper (a matter of opinion) and decided the best way to remedy this was by purchasing cable locks and securing the supply cabinets with them. Ultimate control freak.

Another woman in the office, who we’ll call The Gossip, reports to The Loudmouth. They DO NOT like each other. I’ve often had to turn my headphones up just to drown out their arguing. Real professionals, those two. You could put them in a ring together and it would be bloodier than a Mike Tyson fight.

Earlier in the week, The Gossip stopped me on the way to the bathroom (as she often does, unfortunately) and asked me if The Loudmouth had asked me about a bowl. Huh? Apparently Loudmouth was frantically running around the office trying to find the owner of “the bowl in the sink.”

Let me explain a few things about the logistics first:

  • Bowl sits off to the side in a large, deep sink that is rarely used by anyone.
  • Bowl is seldom left for longer than 30 minutes. I do have things to do.
  • Bowl is always taken back to office after being cleaned and water is wiped from counter.

People have left far worse in the sink than a bowl with some oatmeal bits stuck to the sides and there was never an inquisition. Yes, a bowl soaking with soapy water had apparently sent The Loudmouth over the control-freak cliff. I’ve seen cups left for days in the sink. I’ve seen bits of food dumped in the catcher that cause a stink because there is no disposal. And let’s not even talk about the stinky shit that gets microwaved on a daily basis.

But a bowl! Good God, we must hunt down that bowl owner before the diningware apocalypse descends upon us! Oh, the humanity of it all!

Now, I can be diplomatic and turn off my smartass personality when the occassion calls for it. Fortunately for Loudmouth, she didn’t find me during the inquisition and she hasn’t brought it up again. The bowl gets placed in the same place each morning and I know she sees it. In fact, it brings me some sick pleasure that the sight of the bowl probably tortures her a bit.

If I get asked about “the bowl,” I can see the conversation going one of two ways depending on my mood:

Diplomatic and professional

“Yes, that is my bowl and it needs to soak for a bit so it’s easier to wash. I’ll get to it in awhile.”


“Yes, that’s my bowl. Is it somehow interferring with your ability to do your job? Is it sending messages to you in your office, 40 ft. away that you just can’t ignore? Don’t you have better things to do with your time than find out who owns the bowl and why it’s soaking in the sink? Are you so neurotic that you can’t function until that bowl is cleaned and out of the “kitchen”? Tell you what. I’ll wash that bowl when I damn well please. And then I’ll stick it some place where it will be a constant reminder of just how neurotic you are. Now, will you please bend over?”

On the upside, she took a job somewhere else and will be leaving in a week. My bowl and I will be safe from scrutiny until they hire the next nutjob.

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