That time with the fish.
Of all the “assistant” jobs I’ve had, from retail assistant (too many people) to dental assistant (too many teeth), one of my favourites was my position as a personal assistant. My colleagues were lovely, and I got to use post-it notes on a daily basis. My boss often bought me cake and firmly believed that at 3pm every day it was time to stop work and drink wine. We got along great. It also helped that I genuinely enjoyed filing, collating, and *happy-sigh* don’t get me started on my love of photocopiers.
I even had an office pet, a dear goldfish, which I kept in a bowl on my desk. My sweet Oswald, then Oswald II, Oswald III, Oswald IV, and who could forget Oswald XII? … such lovely fish.
The only down side of my position was that it was my job to get clients their coffee. Not a particularly arduous task, you might say, and I’m sure you’re right. The problem was that, somewhere along the line, I decided if I were making someone else a coffee, it was a shame not to make one for myself at the same time. This soon became my habit, and before long I was a 12 cup a day girl.
Initially, nobody else in the office minded my coffee-addiction. I was hyper-productive, finishing most of my work by 11am and spending the rest of the day manically re-filing, or begging photocopying work from other staff.
The clients didn’t even seem to mind that, due to the increasing shakiness of my hands, the majority of their coffee had usually sloshed from the cup to the saucer before they had the opportunity to drink it. Although, one did have the temerity to look offended when I accidentally poured two boiling cups down his front.
I will admit, it was unfortunate that this same client was also the victim of the fish incident. He probably had reason to be offended at that point. Of course, no one could ever have anticipated that time with the fish. And, you know, it wasn’t entirely my fault.
You see, the problem with keeping a goldfish in an office building is the heating. Our rooms were consistently heated throughout the week, and, for that period, dear little Oswald XIV lived a merry old life. Unfortunately, over the weekend the heating was turned off and the office temperature dropped to the subarctic conditions familiar to most Hobart residents. As a result, by Monday, Oswald XVII was missing a tail and floating upside down in his bowl.
On that particular Monday, the Monday of the fish incident, I had arrived early as usual and proceeded to get a head start on my coffee intake. Upon discovering poor Oswald XIX had departed for fishy heaven, I picked up his bowl and prepared for his toilet burial. Already highly caffeinated, I found it difficult to carry the bowl without pouring half the dead fish water across the office floor, and was relieved to find a client kindly holding open the office door for me.
“Poor Oswald,” he offered, familiar with the workings of the office and the ways of the dangerous bringer-of-coffee.
“I know,” I said, just as I stumbled forward, tripping over my own feet and throwing the entire bowl, water, and the dead fish in his face.
Gosh. What’s the moral of this story? I will leave it up to you, but here are a few suggestions:
Don’t drink too much coffee.
Don’t subject goldfish to freezing temperatures.
Don’t open doors for girls who have previously poured boiling coffee down your front.
Life isn’t always photocopiers and rainbows, sometimes it’s a dead fish in the face.