When I quit my job at a local mental health agency, they invited me to stay on board as a contracted worker to do drug and alcohol assessments two days a week. (Another topic for another post. The assessment, called the GAIN, is insane.)

Naturally, when I quit as a full time employee, they had to relocate me into another less trafficked office. I was only going to be there two days a week after all.

So, they sent me to the dungeon. Seriously, my office is located in the farthest corner of the building, in the back of somebody else’s office. (That piece of information will be relevant shortly.) Like you go into an office, and there’s a door on the far wall that opens to another door two feet later with my nameplate on it. That’s the door to my office.

Telling clients how to get to my office is the most ridiculous thing ever. “All right, go downstairs, and when you get to the hallway, turn right. Now go all the way to the end of the hall. The end of it. Keep going! Your life is not in danger here, I promise. No, no, keep going. *waves them further down the hall* Yeah, exactly, until it looks like you’re about to run into the brick wall at the end. Perfect. Now turn to your right. There is a door. Go into it. You are now in an office. It’s not mine. See that other door on the far wall? Open it. See that other other door two feet farther that says “Josh Weed”? That’s my office. I promise I will not murder you and bury your corpse in there. Though if I did, probably nobody would notice.” *shrugs*

Aaaalll the way to the end…

None of that is the weird part of this story/riddle.

Here’s the weird part.

There was a sequence of disgusting phases, much like the plagues of Egypt, that has occurred over the last two months in the office “next to” mine. You know, the one my office is in, that I can’t avoid taking clients through? That one.

I need you guys to help me figure this out:

When I first moved in and there was a shopping cart filled to the brim with rotting food that was supposed to be donated, which the person who occupied said office said he’d clean up multiple times yet did not, even though it was right in front of my door, there was no detectable odor. All smelled of roses in fact. My clients and I just had to trip on a shopping cart full of rotting food every day. No biggie.

When the shopping cart was removed one day and the office manager, Dee, apologized profusely to me and said she and the data administrator had to clean up mounds and mounds of rotting non-donated goods from local restaurants that the occupant of the adjacent office had hoarded? Still no smell.

When I saw the first “fruit fly” in my office, I thought it was because I often eat fruit and maybe the janitor got lost in the labyrinth that is my office arrangement and forgot to take out garbage. I let Dee know. She was awesome, and the next day, my garbage had been taken out. And there was still no smell.
When I noticed a few more “fruit flies” I tried to kill them one by one thinking they were stragglers. I had clients coming in for several-hour-long assessments! I had to get rid of those things. Somehow I still thought I had brought something in that was attracting them. And there was still no smell.

When several days had passed and for some reason the flies wouldn’t disappear, I got over the idea that if I killed the flies they would eventually go away. The image of my clients and myself causally killing flies or brushing them off our faces while I asked about drug history became my new “normal.” Many “fruit flies” were murdered. It was disgusting. I felt like I was on Survivor.  And there was still no smell.

Hello friend!

When I noticed a “fruit fly” upstairs in the staff room, I realized there was an infestation. The place was crawling with them. One landed on the cake my co-workers brought me because I had quit as a full-time employee. And there was still no smell.

When Dee called me into her office looking like she might vomit, she explained that the occupant of the adjacent office forgot he left a tray of now-rotten potatoes in a box for years, and that’s where the flies had laid their filthy maggots and bred until the place was infested. She said the data administrator had thrown up as he took the cesspool of filthy fly excrement mixed with dead flies mixed with maggots mixed with rotten potatoes to the garbage.

And there was still no smell. .

 See these dead flies? Multiply this by 4,000. That’s how many I killed with my bare hands. Because I’m a fearless killer. A fearless killer of gnats.

When Dee came into my office the next week white as a ghost and said that she had been digging around in the adjacent office and found a freezer full of rotting meat from 2008 that was supposed to have gone to needy families, but instead had been abandoned and forgotten by the office occupant, and that she was so sorry, and that she would get it cleaned up before my next client, there was STILL NO SMELL.

I know. Let’s save this frozen meat and let the freezer turn off sometimes so it rots. That way we can solve hunger!

But now? Now the office has been totally purged. The rotten potatoes are gone. The freezer full of rotten meat that was dripping and oozing years-old cow blood all over the place is cleaned out. The shopping cart filled to the brim with rotten packaged food has long been removed. The infestation of flies was eradicated, and their sweet sanctuary was taken to the dump.

But every time I walk my clients down the long corridor and enter the adjacent office to get to my own, I am knocked over by the smell of death and rotting flesh mixed with Lysol.


I am literally afraid to discover the answer.

PS, Wife wants me to mention that this is freak-show sequence of disgustingness has nothing to do with my private practice, which is in a nice office located in Auburn, an entirely different city.

Photo attribution here and here and here and here.