I got to work a little before 7:30 this morning so I could finish putting together a training manual. I thought it would be an easy day, since the day before was so hectic. But I was swarmed from the moment I stepped through the door. It was shaping up to be one of those maddeningly busy mornings at work, where every time I turn around someone was asking me to do something, or the phone was ringing, or there was another crisis to attend to.
It was one of those days where you blink and 3 hours pass.
I blinked again and 3 more hours had passed. And suddenly I was all “wow I’ve had 2 coffees and if I don’t pee right now I’ll probably die.” So I got up to go to the bathroom. I walked down the hall and through the atrium that separates the bathroom from the rest of the floor without noticing anything, totally on autopilot. It was when I was leaving the bathroom that I saw the little guy on the ground.
He was a little lizard, laid out on the tile between the two doors of the atrium. He was almost the same greenish brown colour as the tiles, so I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t see him on my way in. I was surprised that he wasn’t moving at all, in my experience lizards are either skittish, or dead. And this one wasn’t moving when I got near him, or when I opened or closed the doors. So I assumed he was dead. Poor guy.
I walked out of the bathroom and told some of my coworkers that I found a dead lizard in the bathroom. I’m not sure why, maybe they would want to see it? It was pretty weird thing to find in the bathroom, considering how far away our second level bathroom is from the outside world. And it was such a busy day, and I was on such autopilot that seeing a lizard in the bathroom basically stopped my brain in its tracks. They asked if he looked stomped on. Fortunately, he looked like he died of natural causes.
I went back to clean up the lizard and give him a burial. The idea of flushing him crossed my mind, but then I realised a) he might get clogged, and b) flushing an animal is pretty fucked up. I opened the door to the atrium, and he once again didn’t move. I decided to gather him in some paper towels and put him outside – circle of life and all. As I got closer to him, I decided to check for one more sign of life. I stomped my foot near him – and there! His head moved slightly to the right. LIFE, HE IS ALIVE!
I got so excited that I ran out of the atrium looking for something to corral him with. I found a little takeaway container with a lid in our staff kitchen and ran back to the bathroom. He was still lying there, but when I gently shoo’d him into the container, he made almost no objection. It’s like he knew I wanted to help. Or he was just too freaked out to put up a fight. He crawled into the tub and I put the lid on without sealing it so he wouldn’t be able to jump out. I showed him around, named him Blinky, and then took him outside.
I made sure to look him in the eye, and then I wished him well and let him go in the grassy/mulchy landscaped bits in front of our building. He quickly crawled under some mulch, and disappeared.
I don’t know why, but finding and freeing that lizard was absolutely the high light of my day. It was exciting and awesome, and I felt like I had done something good for the world. And I couldn’t stop thinking – how the fuck did it get in here?
I imagined him crawling up all the steps and in a moment of perfect timing, making it through both sets of automatic doors. Or what if one of the kids found him on the way in and lost track of him when he saw the toys in the lobby? I thought of him slinking around unnoticed through all the rooms, narrowly avoiding being crushed under foot, hitching a ride on patient’s bags, living off crumbs, and trying with all this might to get back to his world as he became sick and dehydrated and cold. I thought of how something told him to go to the bathroom, like maybe something told him that’s where he would find water. But there, almost on the brink of death, he passed out in the atrium. And then I found him. And I put him back in the outside. And maybe it wasn’t his world? Maybe he still couldn’t find water. Maybe he was eaten by a huntsman.
It was a bit of perspective. Yeah, my day is so busy that I forget to eat lunch or go to the bathroom, but at least I’m not lost in some gigantic, terrifying and frozen world with no food and no water, where 900 ft tall creatures can’t see me and almost stomp me or chase me or otherwise try to kill me, where one of those giant creatures in a big yellow dress traps me in a plastic box and squeals to her coworkers that she “caught a lizard!” before releasing me into a world that’s just as scary and huge and different but equally as terrifying. Like seriously. That lizard has seen some shit. My day was cake compared to that.
At least I didn’t step on him.