Up until last week, mine was the only cubicle in a row of four that did not contain a precious bouncy-ball. These weren’t typical, small colored balls, like the ones you would receive as a prize by the dentist for brushing your teeth. These were bright, squishy, large, and smooth; made of flexible plastic.
Periodically, throughout the day, you could make out the woooooosh….thunk of a red, yellow, or blue ball, rising and falling; visible for a moment over the top of the cubicle walls. Team-mates became closer as jovial (not work appropriate) jokes were exchanged.
No one could quite trace when they first appeared or where they came from and I never knew why I was not blessed with my share of sunlight. I wanted to be able to lean back in my uncomfortable desk chair, stare at the ceiling, and feel the momentary pressure of smooth plastic as it perched for a moment in my hand, before being released into the universe.
One week ago, while my co-worker was on vacation, I caved. I meant to give it back.
Progress was slow at first, my hands unfamiliar with the rhythm. Soon enough, I was a machine. I was part of something, I at last understood.
But then she came back. I waited, holding my breath, the ball pressed against my heavily beating heart, my face slowly turning blue from lack of air. She was torturing me with waiting.
Tentatively I peeped around the corner, “So, I took the bouncy ball off your desk while you were gone.”
Eyes turned to me, empty of emotion, “Oh, yeah, I think I stole that from somebody else.”
My head exploded.
Thunking was silenced, Giddy ball jokes were no more. Yellow turned to gray, withering in underuse.
I am plagued with the question: Did my deceit and theft cause the end of an era? It must have. Because the alternative; that this could have happened before, without my notice, is unthinkable.