What is it about office refrigerators that encourages normal people to turn into absolute pigs -- or, as we say in the Rim country, "total javelinas"?
A recent article in the Lafayette Advertiser by Trevis R. Badeaux sent me scurrying to check out the two refrigerators here at the offices of the Payson Roundup and The Rim Review. Badeaux writes of an item found in an office refrigerator at Regent Broadcasting, a company in Lafayette that owns radio stations.
"It had changed colors several times before someone poked it and found out it was once a crab cake," Badeaux wrote.
As part of his research, Badeaux solicited the input of a nutrition specialist at Louisiana State University, from whom he learned: "Office refrigerators have become cold, clammy graves for employee lunches that could spoil and contaminate anything placed inside." The specialist also pointed out that refrigerators only slow the growth and spread of pathogens, and that "food-borne illnesses" continue to grow in their cooler climates.
Armed with this information, I slowly opened the door of Roundup refrigerator No. 1, a pint-sized model right outside the editorial offices. In the past, this particular refrigerator has been home to some very nasty growths.
This time, however, it was absolutely empty, and it didn't take long to figure out why. The little freezer of this non-frostfree model was jam-packed solid with ice -- so solid, in fact, that the ice was starting to grow into the door, making it difficult to open.
The good news, of course, is that refrigerator No. 1 is free of food in varying states of decay.
The bad news -- that this little refrigerator is going to one day become totally encased in ice, at which time it will either be the source of the next ice age, or its motor will overheat and blow up the entire Swiss Village shops complex. The second corporate refrigerator sits in our lunchroom. It's an impressive full-size, frost-free Kenmore of fairly recent vintage.
Surely, I reasoned, such a fine machine would not harbor things that grow green hair and go bump in the refrigerator. I decided, nevertheless, to err on the side of caution.
As I ever-so-carefully cracked open the door, I'm quite sure I heard startled little voices that were quickly stilled when the light came on.
Among the contents one might expect inside a lunchroom refrigerator were a partially consumed bag of frozen green beans (fortunately in the freezer compartment), three open jars of mayonnaise, two open jars of mustard, seven open jars of salad dressing, two open jars of salsa, and a partridge in a pear tree.
But there were also some decaying items that prove beyond a doubt that the refrigerators of the Roundup don't have to take a back seat when it comes to contents with the potential to arise from the dead in mutated form.
- One expired package of hot dogs that is just starting to turn green and grow mold, but shows great promise.
- A package containing two petrified sub rolls.
- The browning remnants of a chef's salad, a cobb salad and some other kind of salad no longer recognizable.
- A casserole, half-full of what appears to be some kind of beans. I did not "poke" at the contents to make a positive identification like the folks did in Lafayette for fear they might poke back.
But the item that confirmed beyond any doubt that some of the contents of Roundup refrigerator No. 2 predate recorded history was a package labeled (and I am not kidding you here) "buffalo roast." When I tracked down the owner of said package, one Patti Christensen, classified advertising manager, she said it had been there "since yesterday" and that she really needed to take it home.
I don't know about you, but I haven't seen a buffalo roaming these parts in the eight years I've been here. As near as I can tell from talking to some very old-timers, the last buffalo was, in fact, spotted in 1903.
My theory is that this particular buffalo roast has been passed down through the Christensen family in the tradition of Christmas fruitcakes for many generations. How else would you explain the fact that Patti recently refused her son's request to have buffalo roast for his birthday dinner?
And considering its age, it's not surprising that the Christensen family decided to store it at the Roundup instead of sleeping in the same house with it.
A final thought: why are we spending all this time worrying about the kinds of freaks that might result from human cloning when Patti Christensen's buffalo roast is morphing into something hideous right here in Payson?