Dear Stuart,

A few Fridays ago, I entered the kitchen at my workplace to get some water. I was met by a glorious tray of brownies, cookies, and other baked goods. As I scanned the tray, ready to smash my face into the never-ending array of chocolatey goodness, a coworker walked in holding a bowl of dip and a tray of fruit.

“Looks good, doesn’t it!” she exclaimed.
“Yes,” I replied, “is it for…”

(Acceptable answers would have been:
a) you
b) a diabetic who probably won’t enjoy it… so why don’t you take it?)

“We’ve hired a few new people. After their training, they’re coming through here. The food is for them.”

Her betrayal stung. I’ve been hurt before, but never like this. Tears welled up in my eyes. I tried to speak but my throat had gone dry. My coworker looked at me, puzzled. Then she told me that she was going to go get some paper plates and napkins and that she would be back in a few minutes.

I looked over at the tray of baking. I’d like to pretend that I spent time considering whether I should take some of the food, or at least tried to rationalize why I deserved to have some, but I didn’t even do that. I picked up a brownie and started eating. I was three brownies deep when I heard a voice. It was my coworker. And she wasn’t alone. She was with the new hires.

I started to panic. What were they doing back already? I had half a brownie in my hand, the other half in my mouth. Both were evidence, so I did what anyone would have done. I threw the half-eaten brownie into the bowl of dip. Then I spit what was in my mouth into the bowl as well. Probably I could have just swallowed what was in my mouth, but I didn’t. The mind works in mysterious ways.

I had just finished smoothing the dip so that it completely covered the brownie when the new people and some of my other coworkers walked in. I walked cautiously to the corner of the room and watched them as they mingled around the food table. After a few minutes, one went for the dip. A bead of sweat formed on my brow. The dipper’s carrot emerged and I was relieved to see that it was chocolate-free. I waited a few more minutes, then figured sufficient time had passed such that I could leave without looking too suspicious.

That’s a lie. I was actually waiting around to try to steal one last cookie, but my attempts were repeatedly thwarted by an over-friendly man standing between me and the tray.

But just as I was about to leave, it happened.

“What’s this brown thing in the dip?” a stocky blonde asked.

A few people gathered around. One poked at it with a celery stick.

“I don’t know,” he said, “is it some sort of root vegetable?”

“It looks like chocolate.”

A man started fishing it out with a fork.

“Look, there are a bunch of little chunks too… they look more… melty though.”

They had also found the mouth brownie. I turned around and saw my coworker looking at me. I needed an out.

“Oh man, looks like whoever made this dip didn’t finish mixing it. It’s supposed to be a yogurt-chocolate mix,” I said as I picked up a fork and started to stir. Everyone looked confused. “Yup, that yogurt-chocolate dip you know… that people eat… because it’s a regular dip” I added, to make it more believable. I finished stirring. There were now visible brownie chunks everywhere in the dip. I exclaimed that it was looking as it should and quickly exited the room.

When I went back into the kitchen at the end of the day, half of the dip was gone. I congratulated myself on my new yogurt-chocolate dip recipe and went home.

The next day was the worst day of my life. I had caught both the plague and malaria. Or so it felt. Maybe I just had the flu. In any case, I spent the day at home, keeled over in the corner of my room. A couple of days later, I was back at work. But nobody else was. I asked one of the few who was wandering around where everyone was.

“There’s a really bad flu going around,” he told me.

And that, Stuart, is the story of how I tried to eat a brownie but ended up transmitting the Black Death.