Plant extraction

Today I went to the office. It was weird.

Before you raise the alarm, I did it for the plants. Assuming it will be quite a long time before I stop working remotely, it seemed like a good time to dart into the emptyish building and perform an extraction.

The roads were empty enough that driving was actually a rare pleasure. I paid the exorbitant parking fee of $0.70 in coins, and went through security. The security guards weren’t wearing masks, nor did they make me remove mine (a silly handmade one cut out of a tee shirt I bought years ago at a truck stop in South Dakota with a coffee filter tucked inside) to match my face to my ID photo. They were very nice and normal. I bet work is weird for them now, guarding an empty building.

CNN wasn’t on in the lobby, as it generally is. At least they’re getting a break from that.

Up on my office floor, most of the hallways were dark. I was the only one there. The fire doors were closed, and I was walking around the floor in my jeans and mask, with most of the lights off. All of this together made the place feel altogether bizarre.

It’s odd how places where we’ve spent so many hours can mutate with the smallest of changes. Remember Back-to-School Night? How odd it was to be at school, with a bunch of adults, at night in summertime. The temperature and light were all wrong. The lights in the hallways would be on, flickering orange fluorescent onto the shrubs. The teachers would be wearing normal clothes, not teacher clothes. It was all kind of exciting and unsettling, like a glimpse of a mundane parallel universe, and all due to a few small changes from normal.

Anyway, that’s what it was like in the office today.

I loaded my plants into grocery bags and grabbed the tea and peanut butter and multivitamins that would otherwise languish in my office cupboards.

To my surprise, I wasn’t saving the plants from a dry death. If anything, I was saving them from overwatering. I toured the floor feeling the soil in everyone’s pots, looking for any who needed help, but every plant had been recently watered. The succulents were tending toward the marshy. But who is this kind soul (admittedly not a plant expert)? Someone taking the time during a pandemic to water the dozens of plants we left behind when we all took our laptops home.

A lot of my fellow non-window coworkers moved their plants to other coworkers’ window offices before they left. The plants are sitting there looking out over the city together, getting watered rather often by some stranger. I bet the plants who usually live in inner offices, seeing only overhead lights, are astounded at the change. The old-timers who have been at the window longer are probably teaching them the ropes, reminding them how to turn toward the light.

I’m grateful to have a stable job at the moment, and one that I can perform remotely. I’m grateful to all of those, security guards and grocery store workers and delivery drivers and cooks and construction workers, who can’t. I’m saddened and worried for those whose jobs disappeared recently.

And meanwhile I’m happy to introduce the office plants to the apartment plants. The flora-to-fauna ratio in my place is now 19:2. We’d better not anger them, or they’ll unionize.

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