Friday, January 28, 2011

Lingering Noxicity

There are days when I feel there is a little black cloud hanging in the sky just above me.  Eeyore would be proud of my self-lamentations.  But after I tell you about my yesterday, maybe you'll understand, how it is that I seem to live by Murphy's law.  In fact, I think Murphy may have been the former owner of both our houses.  And I sometimes worry that if I keep doing family research, Murphy is going to show up in the family tree. 

But let me tell you a story from three years ago first of all, just to lay a little groundwork.

We lived on the Addison farm for eighteen years.  With both girls in high school we were constantly running the roads in to town every day and we made the decision to move closer.  Also it was time to drop the 'money pit' as we lovingly referred to the old farm house, in favour of something a little more maintenance-free.

The night before the realtors were to come to list our farm, my wife went to the attached garage to get food for our cats from the bag she stored there.  She had her plastic dish with her, which she dug into the bag to grab some kibble.  But the dish, didn't seem to be scooping anything, so she reached her hand in and felt fur.  At the same instant, the fur came to life, lifted its tail and well you can pretty much connect the dots from there.

Now the smell would probably have been pretty much confined to the garage, but for the fact she grabbed her plastic dish and ran into the house.  Unfortunately, some of the perfum de skunk was on or in the bowl, and she dripped it through the foyer, before realizing her mistake.  I was working night shift, when she called to tell me her tale (tail would work here too) of woe.  "I don't think it's too bad though", were her fateful words, "just kind of smells a bit garlicky."

I knew we were in trouble when I could smell skunk, half a mile from home the next morning.  The missus has a keen sense of smell, but she was obviously just too close to the situation -- it was truly noxious.  

This was one of those foolish times, when I had agreed to teach the next day, after working a night shift -- oh the silly things I've done in my life!

So I made my lunch, changed my clothes and off I headed to the local school to teach grade 3/4.  I was only nicely in the door, when people started asking if I could smell skunk.  So I had to tell my story, and there was no point in returning home for another set of clothing, because everything I owned was christened with the joyous odour of Pepe Le Pew. 

I made it through that day relatively unscathed, the kids smelled it initially and then it just became one of the classroom scents, and I'm not sure any of them made the connection directly to their teacher.  I know I remained mum on the subject.

Okay, so now you have the backdrop, in place, to my yesterday.  

Booked by the same teacher for the same class (how coincidental was that!!) I started my day in the usual manner.  Up, shower, shave, dress, pack the lunch, -- oh and it's Thursday, better put the garbage out on the side of the road.  There wasn't much garbage in the upstairs can, so I thought I might as well fill it from the can in my workroom in the basement.  We pay for garbage pickup by weight, so I like to stuff the bags as full as I can -- old Mr. Frugal. 

I'm not sure what got dumped into the downstairs can, but as I dumped it into the bag, there was some liquid spilled on the side of the bag.  This can has been there basically since we moved in, and usually only gets the water softener salt bags.  Anyway I don't know if a mouse crawled in, died and then liquified or if someone accidently dropped a package of meat from the freezer into it -- who knows! And do the logistics really matter, at this conjecture in time, point is, it was RIPE.

I took the bag to the curb and thought nothing more about it, until.....  "What's that smell?"  This from my wife as I'm sitting typing at the computer.  "Oh must have been the garbage," I replied.  I forgot to mention, that my sense of smell is not great for the first hour or so in the morning.

I'd already washed my hands, so I thought, maybe I'd better change my shirt too.  So I did that and then headed off to school.  I could smell something, but I thought it must just be lingering in the air or maybe just cloyed in my nose.  

As I unpacked my bag and changed into my shoes, I spied the telltale stain on the cuff of my pants and reality suddenly dawned its ugliness upon me.  What to do - too late to go home and change.   I quickly went to the washroom and got a damp paper towel and cleaned the offending area as best I could and sprayed a little of the available air freshener on it.  Little did I realize I was just diluting and revitalizing the whole horrid stench.  It was kind of one of those times, "I'm aware of it, but hopefully it's that bad".

My new theme song from yesterday

The first order of the day was to get some photocopying done in the photocopy room.  Murphy was firmly perched on my shoulder.  That copier was out of service.  So this left the only available one in the staff room.  I was only in there a moment, before I started hearing "What's that smell?"  Still sort of in denial, I kept copying or should I say, attempted to keep copying.  This photocopier was functional, but just barely.  And it was just like in class, when something technical breaks down, ten little people jump up to help you.  Only this time it was ten very helpful teachers, all jumping in to assist, all the while complaining to each other about the awful smell in the staff room.  

Then an announcement came over the PA system that they were investigating the smell in the school, and would turn the air conditioning fans on to try to dissipate it before the students arrived.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  Okay it wasn't me, there was something else fouling up the air in the school.  Perhaps Murphy had found another shoulder to perch upon.

Back in my class room, the awful truth started to sink in.  It was ME!  How could one little spot on the cuff of my pants permeate an entire building.  The shoulder that Murphy had found was just my other one.

So I made my decision, I would just stay cloistered in my room all day, teach from the far corner, go home and never admit anything.  And that is pretty much what I tried to do.

Of course the kids complained about stinky socks etc, when they entered the room, but they didn't seem to equate it with me fortunately.  And that was kind of what it was like, like you had worn a pair of socks for about two weeks without changing them, and then dumped a pound of rotting hamburger in, just for good measure.

A teacher I had supplied for last week, popped in to ask if I would mind helping her mark the art project we did that day, on my break.  "Gee you've sure got someone with stinky socks in here today."  Blush and mumble agreement.

By recess, I wasn't noticing it so bad, and I welcomed the opportunity of yard duty.  Great, a chance to get out and get the final whiffs carried away by the Mother Nature's breezes.  Not to be.  Murphy insisted I trail through the snow to talk to some offending reprobates tossing sticks at each other.

Snow melts when you come inside, and my pant stain returned to malodourous life, as the heat worked its magic.  And now I have to mark that cursed art in close proximity with another teacher, who is suddenly going to realize that the stinky sock smell from my room is now suspiciously following me.  I admitted nothing, but I did note, she kept a healthy distance, as she recorded the marks I called out.

I can just imagine the staff room conversation today, thank goodness I got called to a different school.  Get off Murphy... go visit someone else for a day, a week, a fortnight, a year!

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.


Much appreciated comments from my friends: