Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Does anyone knows how Gorgonzola cheese smells?
Well, it's a putrid combination of vomit, stinky feet and puss. It's horrendous and what better way to start the secret life section than with a Gorgonzola story.
It was a grey, rainy Monday morning and all the team was in early, ready for "another day in paradise" but still tired after previous week's printer problems that kept us at work until 9 pm. We didn't have any fancy, shiny desks, any posh islands made out of L shape desks, with rounded corners and stylish pedestals with finger print key. Our building has been built in the '70s and that is when I think the furniture was last updated. The design was simple: pairs of 3 wooden desks, put in a long line next to each other. So, we were 6 people, each one facing the other 3 from the opposite site.
My place was next to the window, then there was an empty desk on my right, followed by the desk occupied by, let's name him Mr. S. He was quite a character, born and raised in East London, cockney accent and childhood friend with Brian Harvey, the member of pop band E17. He also explained to me that the name of the band meant exactly the Walthamstow post code area (ok, now it makes sense!). Very good mate, calm and collected, seemed that nothing could ever annoy him. At least this is how he was before we welcomed in our team a new colleague (Miss A) that very soon was crowned The Queen of Annoyance.
Back to Mr. S now. So, in that particular Monday morning, he came as usual, around 9:20 ish am, turned on the computer and then headed downstairs, at the 1st floor canteen to get his coffee and sausage roll. He came back after 20 minutes and started working. We kind of gotten used to his way of time management so nobody even bat an eye. We were all immersed into the world of international payments, SWIFT messages, releasing, approving, changing data and printing papers.
Around 10 am, my dearest colleague that was sitting face to face with me, Mrs E, came over to my desk and told me that she can't concentrate because there is a bad smell around her desk. I started to laugh, I breathed in and out a few times, I asked her to do the same and I assured her that it must be from the vents, maybe from the canteen. As a good colleague, she returned at her desk and struggled to continue working, sighting deeply from time to time, visibly affected by the smell.
Because of my window seat and the age of the building, there was always a draft of wind coming from the outside, but this never bothered me. Even better, that day it was a blessing because I was not able to smell anything while I was at my desk.
One hour later, I had to go to her and discuss something about a payment. This is a small irrelevant detail. The big relevant one was the foul smell around her desk. I am a very delicate flower and I don't deal well with bad smells so I almost gagged. I was as stupefied as she was, because I had no idea what was that putrid smell and where it was coming from. Coming back to my chair, I realized that it was also on my side of the desk, but when I was sitting down, I couldn't feel it anymore.
I remember going to the printer a few times and still feeling that rank smell there, too. Also, during a discussion with my manager, Mrs L, I was able to feel the nastiness again, even if there were maybe 5 meters between us.
Hmmm... something was fishy. The team was amazing and we were even able to crack some jokes about it but, before lunch, the smell started to fill in the whole department, passing the boundaries of our team and spreading like a green, fetid monster towards Pensions team and Exchange Office team.
Everyone in the office started to come up with different theories: maybe the toilet pipe is blocked again, maybe it's some Gorgonzola pasta recipe from the canteen, maybe it is the smell of some creature decomposing in the basement and coming from the air conditioning vent. During all this time, my dear colleague, Mr S, had his headphones on so he was oblivious to all the drama. He kept working hard.
Eventually, around 12 pm, after 3 hours in the pits of hell, my colleague, Mrs E, told me that she will go to lunch earlier that usual because she just can't stand the smell anymore. She was upset hat her productivity went down the drain. I started to laugh again, I turned to my colleague, Mr S, and asked him how come that he doesn't feel the smell in the air that is sending people out for lunch earlier that normal.
God, I still remember his innocent face, turning red and asking me: "Do you think it can be from my feet? I had a hole in my shoes and I stepped into a puddle this morning. Look!"
And he shows me his feet without shoes, with mismatched crusty socks, one with Spider Man and one with Captain America. Then, I saw his shoes getting dry under the desk, far away from him, but very close to my poor colleague that left earlier.
I choked on the biggest chortle ever, I don't remember having such a crazy roar ever in my life. I just burst into laugher, with tears coming down on my cheeks and meeting on my chin, loud and incontrollable, impossible to stop. He was laughing too, mainly because of my laugh, but a bit embarrassed, betrayed by the red, flashy ears. Then the whole floor was in hysterics, relieved that it was not a gas chamber drill, but only some wet stinky Marvel socks.
I told him that I will never forget this episode and he will have a special chapter in my memoires. Until then, I decided to do him the honour of being the first one mentioned on this blog.
Have a good one, everybody, and may you win at the Lottery of Life!