Forget about Bear Grylls and Survivor Man. I am the true living-off-the-fat-of-the-land guy as I survived a night this past week, stranded at the offices of the Tullahoma News all by my lonesome. That’s right, Duane did a sleep over at the office, alone with nothing but the newspaper ghosts roaming the empty halls to keep me company.
Of course, this overnighter was not planned but instead forced upon me out of the blue as I was planning to head home to McMinnville after a long day of work. Instead, as I hit Jackson, my car had other ideas as it started missing, leaving me to make a business decision – should I try to make it home on the coldest night of the year with wild chill in the single digits or should I spin around and try to make it back to the office? I chose the latter and was able to limp my Hyundai back to the Lake Way Place.
“You want me to come pick you up?” one friend offered via text as I walked into the dark, deserted building around 8 p.m.
“Nah,” I replied. “By the time I got home it’d be almost bedtime and then I’d have to catch a ride back to work. I’ll just rough it here.”
So, with my decision made, it became survival time. First, there was the cursory security walk around the building, making sure no slashers were stalking about. Convinced I was alone, off come the shoes and pants.
“You were walking around the place with no pants, Sherrill? Are you some kind of pervert?” I can hear you ask.
Actually, I put on some shorts and a t-shirt just like I would at home. And, just like I would at home, I sat down to watch Monday Night Raw on television in the editorial office. I drug a reclining chair from the board room that was to provide by sleeping accommodations for the night.
However, I had no sooner settled in the easy chair than I heard a growling. It wasn’t the monster that wanders the building at night; it was my stomach. I hadn’t eaten since lunch.
“Just order a pizza,” you say.
Well, I’m too cheap, so that was out. No, I decided I would live off the fat of the land, or in this case, the fat of the office. Surely there had to be something to eat. So, the first thing I did was raid the vending machines, stuffing myself full of honeybuns and Sprite. However, this wasn’t nourishment. I needed something else. That’s when I took to the fridge in the dining room of the office. I immediately found several microwavable dinners and was about to stuff a couple into the microwave when it hit me – I didn’t want to be that guy. You know, the guy at the office that steals your lunch from the fridge.
With some reluctance, I put the delicious-looking meal back into the fridge and instead chose a rather old looking box of frozen waffles, all complete with freezer burn. I popped them in the toaster, which looked not to have been cleaned since the Eisenhower Administration. There was an immediately stench of old bread that permeated the dining room as the fossilized crumbs in the toaster were burnt off.
To say the waffles were bad would be an understatement, even with coffee creamer poured on them. That’s right. I was roughing it. There was no syrup.
Still hungry, I found a box of Jambalaya mix that a lady had given me as a sample my first month here. Despite having no fixings to put with it, I went ahead and microwaved it the best I could and ended up eating half the bowl. It was spicy and hung with me into the next day.
So, finally somewhat fed, I tried to settle into my bed for the evening. I turned out the lights in editorial and climbed onto the easy chair. But this, as you would guess, is the time you begin hearing the monsters, spirits and things that go bump in the night.
“What was that?” I sat bolt upright after almost falling asleep.
This prompted another security walk-about, during which all was clear.
“It’s your imagination,” I told myself as I tried to settle back in only to be alerted by a loud bang outside.
So, I grab my coat and go on an outside security sweep. With wind chill in the single digits and it being dark as night outside – appropriate seeing it was night – I soon came to the realization that no self-respecting robber, cad, masher, burglar and/or assailant would be wandering around in such conditions. The only person dumb enough to be outside on such a night was a paranoid editor who was doing a sleep over at the office.
I returned to my home for the evening and turned up the television to drown out the rattle of ghoul chains in the hallway. Yes. I know it’s not really roughing it if you have cable television, a microwave, vending machines, heat and indoor plumbing but just play along.
The next thing I know, after some tossing and turning on the small recliner, there’s noises outside my door. However, these weren’t the ghosts of Christmas Present, Past and Future come to chastise me about being too cheap to order pizza delivery, these were the employees arriving for work.
I jumped from the chair and went into my private office seeing I was still dressed in shorts and a small t-shirt. I quickly dressed, um, no shower, and turned on the lights to my office and walked into the hall like I’d just arrived for work.
It was some time later that I told folks I had roughed it overnight and stayed at the office. That revelation was met with some scolding as several people said I should have contacted them and they would have put me up for the night.
But, aside from the waffles, which should be thrown away immediately, and the rather uncomfortable chair, everything went smoothly. I not only survived but thrived, if you don’t count me burping the spicy jambalaya the next day. My car was fixed in short order by All Things Automotive which was located a short drive away. I was able to limp my car there during daylight and explained I didn’t want to do another sleep over at the office.
So, lesson learned from my adventure? Stock the fridge and get a cot. The next time I do a sleep over, I’ll put out some invitations and we can have a pajama party here. I’m making waffles.