Today, a completely routine day at work, suddenly acquired an overtone of slight menace.
Riding down in the elevator, I noticed something: three small metal objects had been placed on top of a decorative panel, at about eye height. On further examination, they turned out to be what looked for all the world like small-caliber pistol cartridges. (I assumed they were pistol cartridges, but what I know about ammo and $3.95 will get you a grande mocha frap at Starbucks.)
So consider: These cartridges could not possibly have been dropped, or appeared by some other accident. They would have to have been placed there carefully by hand.
Menace? Passive aggression? Veiled threat? The company I'm contracting for is not doing very well; could a soon-to-be-laid-off hothead have been trying to send a message?
I turned the cartridges in to the receptionist, a retired military man, asking if he recognized them to be what I thought they were. He agreed they were cartridges, all right, but he noticed that they had green paint on their business ends, which he thought unusual. He promised to look into it.
All through my lunch hour, I pondered the cartridges. What a strange thing to do -- put your ammo on display like that. Was somebody about to go Columbine on us? Should I go back after lunch? Was I about to become a headline?
I did decide to return -- I definitely need the money -- figuring that forewarned was forearmed, as it were. If gunplay broke out, I'd be the first out the door.
Went back to the receptionist, to share my increasing feeling of apprehension. He had investigated, and he had gotten to the bottom of the mystery.
They were indeed ballistic cartridges, but not for a pistol. They are used to drive pins into concrete, evidently -- and some repairmen who had been working on the elevator had stored them in the spot where I found them and forgotten to retrieve them when they were done.
Still, it was damned irresponsible to leave them there like that, and they got a good bollocking from the receptionist. Wish I'd been around to hear it. You know, instead of under my desk, squeaking gently at every stray sound.