Experiment #68

Differential Equations Part 1 of 2

“Hey Phil,” Steve said. He leaned out from behind their cubicle wall “have you worked on those reports yet?”

Phil sat back and rubbed his eyes.

Hmmmm Phil thought, We talked about some kind of report in the meeting this morning. What was it? Rob said something about reports the accounting department needed, but that was about the time he brought out the donuts.

Palooka’s donuts.

It was a tough choice between chocolate cream or glaze. Carolyn would have turned up her nose if I’d taken two to start. She’s always watching me. But when I bit into that rich chocolate cream still warm from the oven, all my worries seemed to fade away. My that was a good donut. Palooka’s have always been good.

Wait, so we had four, six, eight, nine people on our team and Rob brought two dozen donuts. And everybody had one except Theresa who’s perpetually on a diet. Carolyn and I both grabbed a second.

The little hypocrite.

Oh wait, but Palookas does a baker’s dozen. That leaves sixteen. It’s ten thirty. The meeting ended at about nine fifteen so the donuts have been in the break room unprotected for just over an hour.

They tend to disappear on a hyperbolic curve, quickly at first then it slows down considerably. Plus the customer service people had a big meeting and had lots of vegetables and fruit left over. That should thin out the donut herd of anyone on a diet or preferring natural foods.

So given the typical number of staff who pass the break-room and the fact that Carla is at a conference and Sam is out sick, there might just be one left, assuming Carolyn hasn’t gone back for thirds yet…

Alright so assuming there’s one left I can’t go down the main hall because I’d get stopped by my-life-is-a-sob-story Sarah. Carolyn would see me and beat me to the box. If I head down the east corridor I’ll have to go past Luke who’s been way too up in my business lately and who, frankly, would blab it to the world. Plus I went that route yesterday and I’m just asking for trouble if I pass his desk more than once a week.

If I take elevator four up to accounting I can act like I’m dropping off that report then head down stairwell C to get to the break room. It’ll look like I’m just returning from accounting and being healthy by using the stairs plus anyone who sees me will think I’m on business not grabbing another donut.

And as an added bonus, I’ll skip over Carolyn’s desk and triumphantly walk past her, donut in hand, back to my desk. It’s perfect!

Phil stood up and walked off.

“Phil?” Steve asked, but Phil was already gone.

Phil headed down the hall and took elevator number four up to the third floor. He strolled past accounting and arrived at stairwell C. He hopped down the stairs and burst onto the first floor. He almost danced as he made his way to the break room. He could taste that slightly stale crispness, and the cream that washes his worries away.

There on the counter was his buried treasure. He swayed back and forth and played air saxophone between the door and the counter.

Maybe there were two left, he thought. What a triumph it would be to walk past Carolyn with the final two donuts.

Phil walked to the box. Victory was within his grasp. He lifted the lid and stared down proudly at icing crumbs and sprinkle dust.

He lifted out the wax paper, but nothing lay hidden underneath.

This is a travesty; an office war crime punishable by death, he thought. Not only did they take the last donut, but the jerk hadn’t the common human decency to clean up after themselves. What kind of person would do that to someone else? This cannot stand.

Experiment #70

Differential Equations Part 2 of 2

He marched out of the break room door, his anger cocked.

“Attention! Attention, please!” He called in his deep baritone. “Will he or she who took the last donut please stand up?”

The room dropped into silence at his bellow. No one stood. Phil looked around the room. His eyes paused at Carolyn’s empty desk.

“What kind of animal doesn’t clean up after herself?” He yelled. He threw the box onto Carolyn’s desk. Crumbs and sprinkles spilled across her keyboard and pictures of her cat. Phil stormed off to his desk.

By the time he reached his cubicle his anger had stalled and gotten stuck in neutral. At his desk he found a funny thing. Two donuts a sprinkled and a chocolate sat on his keyboard like sentries, guarding between them a hallowed napkin. A napkin with a handwritten note. “If you spent as much time thinking about people as you do food, you’d know who this was from. All my love, your secret admirer.”

“There you are,” Steve said.

“What’s this?” Phil asked.

“I don’t know. Carolyn swung by looking for you. Maybe she knows?” Phil sat down. Those were the kinds Carolyn had taken. He’d seen her eat them, right? He picked up the napkin and read it again.

“Phil about those reports,” Steve said. But Phil was already walking away note in hand, heading down the main corridor toward the break room. He threw the note down on Carolyn’s desk. “Did you do this?” He asked, almost yelling.

Carolyn looked up from her desk. Jennifer her cubicle mate had just been whispering to her about Phil’s escapade. Someone had righted the empty donut box. Silent tears trickled down her face. “What do you think?” she asked almost whispering.

Phil was caught off guard. He hadn’t anticipated the tears or that he’d cause them.

“Do you have something you’d like to say to me?” she asked.

Every alarm bell and security system were going off in his head, but he could not get his feet or his tongue to move.

“Nothing?” she asked.

He wished he could run or hide or crawl into the fetal position right there on the floor but he still could not move.

Carolyn picked up the empty donut box and pushed it into Phil’s arms then walked past him to the bathroom. You could hear her sobs through the door.

Every eye focused on Phil.

He dropped the box.

He backed away slowly, turned, walked and then ran.

He never returned to that office, that job or even Palooka’s. From that day on he never stopped running. From one donut to the next, one job to the next, one relationship to the next. His hunger was so vast, so insatiable that it swallowed him whole.