There’s a chocolate kiss sitting on my keyboard this morning. An anonymous gift. Meaning that someone’s been in my cubicle. It’s hard for me to describe just how unsettling I find anonymous gifts such as this. It’s like finding a secret message written on the inside of your underwear—the questions are the same. How did it get there? When did it appear? Are those responsible still in the vicinity? Is there a steady red laser dot fixed on my lower spine? If I peer at my mirror real close can I see a surveillance room on the other side? Has someone installed a camera in my toilet?
It seems to me that anonymous gifts are a good way to drive someone insane, whether or not they have a predisposition toward such, on their father’s side of the family. Am I supposed to thank someone now? There’s no obvious target for me to be thankful toward, so am I supposed to be extra thankful to everyone I come across, just in case? If I’m not thankful then all of a sudden I come off as callous. “He doesn’t deserve that chocolate kiss after all.” Guilt then, and I find myself thanking people for the most trivial reasons. “Thanks for that smile.” “Thank you for adjusting your course so as not to walk into me.” “Thank you for not killing me every day since I’ve kind of known you from across the room.”
I envision myself horrified as I return to find my desk covered in chocolate kisses—the rewards for all of my kind deeds. But that’s just it: what have I done right? What am I being rewarded for? You can’t reward someone randomly like that, out of the blue. It’s like giving a serial killer a shiny certificate because they won the spelling bee when they were twelve. Non-specific rewards send mixed signals, and, more than that, stress our delicate social fabric to the absolute breaking point. Is there some behavior I should be continuing? Just what is being encouraged here? I am paralyzed, unable to remember how I usually behave. I am grown a stranger to myself. I die.
So my response is to avoid people as much as I possibly can. If I’d done this from the start then I wouldn’t be dealing with this chocolate kiss fiasco now. Of course I can’t avoid people entirely, so I regard them all with even suspicion, guarded. Thus is my happy little bubble existence violated, and it’s not even lunch time yet. I must be forever vigilant, coldly calculating the degree to which peoples’ mouths curl up at the edges, looking for that telltale smugness. I must watch for that knowing glimmer in their eyes, and that righteous bounce in their gaits. Everyone is so precious and self-satisfied, and I am left to ponder this little rape wrapped in tin foil on my keyboard. Or at least until the cleaning staff steals it tonight. Which they will.