I’ve seen and done some pretty gross things in my life. As a mother I’ve changed thousands of diapers. I’ve picked toddlers’ boogers with my bare fingers. Once, the family guinea pig died and we buried him in the backyard. Four days later the dog dug it up and trotted it around the property like a grim trophy. I retrieved it and reburied it while my traumatized daughter watched and wailed from the kitchen window. In the course of my career I’ve viewed crime scene photos that made me skip lunch. I’ve listened to strangers on the phone describe their bodily fluids and diseased flesh in horrific detail (including one guy who had, I promise, maggots in his eye). I’ve seen some things in this war, dude.
None of it prepared me for cleaning the work refrigerator tonight.
Don’t ask me what insanity possessed me to do it. The point is, I did it. And now I have to live with the memory forever. Here is a partial list of what I found:
- Fossilized chicken wings wadded in a ball of tin foil like a shameful, childhood secret
- Three inches of clotted milk in a plastic bottle
- Butter that had grown a carapace
- Fourteen hardboiled eggs in various stages of decay
- A tub of rice that had gained sentience
- And countless colonies of single-celled organisms including, I am pretty sure, a SCOBY.
Kombucha SCOBY wants to crawl on your face while you sleep.
It was a full-blown HazMat incident, which we in the Fire Department take very seriously, and which I single-handedly and with great courage, mitigated. And me without my bunny suit. (Sorry you won’t get to see me in my HazMat bunny suit. It was black lace and low-cut, too.)
How many half-drunk bottles of green tea and Muscle Milk are too many in a fridge? How many cartons of pineapple yogurt do we amass before we say “enough already”? How many brown grapes and sodden oranges? And don’t get me started on the condiment packets.
OK, OK, if you insist.
If I was the boss of the world (hey, what a great idea!) I would have a Zero Tolerance policy toward just a few things. War, fundamentalism and oppression would top the list. And closer to the bottom would be the hoarding of condiment packets. Zero tolerance. No questions asked; firing squad offense.
Every workplace in the world has at least one Condiment Hoarder on staff. Condiment Hoarders are those loathsome people who squirrel away tubs of McDonalds dipping sauces, and take-out pouches of salad dressing; ketchup packets by the score (because they’re FREE!) and little paper packets of salt and pepper and sugar and powdered creamer. Soy sauce, duck sauce, lemon juice, honey. And god help us, the Holy Grail of all hoarded condiments, Taco Bell hot sauce packets.
In what world does anyone need to stockpile Taco Bell hot sauce? They shove it at you by the double handful every time you go through the drive-thru. Even Taco Bell doesn’t want the stuff lying around. If the staff doesn’t feel you have taken enough hot sauce they will run down the street behind you trying to chuck packets of it into your bag as you drive away. The world will literally never run out of Taco Bell hot sauce, not even if we try. Stop hoarding it; you need an intervention.
It’s as if Condiment Hoarders are afraid that the Antichrist is going to appear on the world stage at any minute and chuck us all into FEMA death camps, and the only thing between us and starvation will be whatever condiments we’ve managed to stuff into our cheek pouches beforehand. I’m no prophet but I’m going to go way out on a limb here and speculate that this is never going to happen. Nowhere in the Multiverse are you and your loved ones ever going to be reduced to crouching under a hut and sucking duck sauce and honey from plastic sleeves to meet your nutritional requirements. It’s not going to happen (though it might make good reality TV).
The fridge is clean and condiment-free now. I would like to recommend myself for a promotion and a raise and perhaps the Presidential Medal of Freedom as well.
I’ll settle for you jokers keeping it clean.