Spelunking: I’ve hit a new low

by kattiewampus

During my senior year in college, I acquired a black CamelBak water bottle. It had been sitting on the ledge of the campus fountain for quite some time, unclaimed, and I wanted a CamelBak water bottle, so I appropriated it. I took extensive precautions to disinfect it, washing it thoroughly, scouring it with various cleaning solutions, cleaning it with vinegar, soaking it in boiling water, the whole works. I’ve been using that water bottle for three years now with no adverse side effects (to my knowledge, anyway, haha).

I have a mild weakness for coffee mugs. The year after I graduated, when I was still working at the university, I participated in a Step Challenge for staff members that basically involved wearing a pedometer all semester and keeping a log of how many steps I walked each day. The university had a step goal that everyone was working toward collectively. If we as a university achieved that goal, all participants were eligible to receive either half a day off or a travel mug from the university coffee shop. I worked 20 hour weeks at the time, so the half-day incentive was meaningless to me. But the travel mug was the perfect motivator.

We met our step goal, the semester ended, and I moved back home. I was so determined to get that travel mug that I actually sent an e-mail to the woman in HR who was coordinating the step challenge. I’m pretty sure she thought I was weird, but in the end, they gave me my mug, and my roommate, who was still working at the university at that time, picked it up for me and brought it up to the Bay Area. For the record, I have gotten a ton of use out of that mug, so it was definitely worth the persistence.

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“Not just your daily grind”

Fast-forward to yesterday morning. We had started the morning exams and reconvened once they were going. My co-workers were talking about some orphaned water bottles in one of the exam rooms because one of my co-workers likes to collect abandoned water bottles. Our boss starts telling us about a travel mug that she put in her office recycle bin this morning because she had never used it and didn’t want it. So I asked if I could have it. Actually, what I asked was more like, “So… if I go to your recycle bin and take the mug out and keep it for myself, will that complicate our relationship?”

She said no.

I texted my other co-worker, who was in the main office, to make sure that the mug was rescued before the recycle bin got emptied:

Me: There’s a coffee mug in [Boss]’s recycle bin. Can you get it out for me? [Boss] said I could have it. 😀

Co-worker: It’s crazy moldy

Me: Whaaaaaaaat. She said it had never been used lol

Co-worker: Well there appears to be an old tea bag in the bottom

Me: Is it salvageable? I’m not afraid of disinfecting it, haha

Co-worker: Yeah totally

Me: Awesome

No shame, right? None whatsoever. Eventually, we made our way back over to the main office and I went to collect my mug.

It was definitely not a travel mug.

It definitely had an old tea bag at the bottom.

It was definitely not the mug that my boss had described.

I went into my boss’s office to investigate, but the recycle bin was empty. However, the janitor was still in the building and her cart with the big recycle bin and trash bag was parked just outside of our office. Did I mention that I have no shame? So what happened next shouldn’t surprise you. I untied the bag of recyclables and started digging through it. Not just surface level inspection – actually searching down into the depths of this bag.

And there it was!

The unused mug. Just as my boss had described it. Mine for the taking.

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This just happened

I retrieved it triumphantly from the bag, and looked sheepishly at my co-worker: “I think I’ve just hit a new low.”

Co-worker: “It’s possible.”

And now, a game! Pictured below is the “care instructions” sheet that was inside the mug. I’ve found three typos so far. Can you spot them? Can you find any others? Ready, set, go!

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