Office Vibes; Red Mouth Unmasked

Fiction; one of a million things that happen in a typical Nigerian office environment.

I stared at the spot where my chocolate occupied in the fridge and it stared back at me, empty! My pre-lunch was gone. Was this another prank? The other day, it was my beverage drink that got missing in the fridge. Although I later found it half empty, I couldn’t help but thrash it after raining silent abuses on whoever drank it. I would have asked around the office this time, but come on, it was just a bar of chocolate.

“Take stuff that isn’t yours? Who does that here?” I vented while sharing my frustration with Lola, my colleague. “This feels like a boarding school habit to me though.”

“You should have voiced out so no one comes near your food again,” Lola teased. “I’m sure it was just someone really hungry or a chocolate freak who took it.”

She was wrong. It was a serial event. More meals got missing from the fridge even when I had a warning tag on them; the grilled chicken and vegetable salad I’d woken up by 5am to make, the smoothie I grabbed on my way to work, my Jollof rice and chicken leftover from a wedding, another can of beverage, two bottles of water among other snacks and meals of my other colleagues.

It was a little too much of a nuisance to handle in a work place. So I sent out an email to the 35 members of my unit concerning the missing meals series, pleading for the culprit to stop. The culprit responded by stealing a colleague’s breast milk refrigerated for her baby. I was at my wits end on what to do about the situation, I ran through a list of options in my head; adding rat poison in my food to get the thief would be too harsh, hide behind the fridge and pounce on the person? Put an alarm on my plate that will ring out if anyone touched it. These were very impractical things that work in cartoons and silly films.

I’d almost given up on what to do when I remembered my “tasty time” experience. I drank tasty time drink and it stained my lips and tongue, giving me away to my mum even when I denied I never saw the drink. It took three days of constant hard brushing of my tongue before my red mouth went back to normal.

Taking a cue from that experience, I made my favourite smoothie flavour and added red colour to it. Although the additive altered the taste a bit, but it’ll be hard to decipher the artificial taste when it’s cold. Four hours after the I put smoothie in the fridge, I went to check on it and was disappointed to find it there. By 3pm, I went back, it was intact but by the time I went to check a third time, my expectations were met.

I smiled in mischief, it’s better late than never, in a matter of minutes red-mouth will be unmasked.