I consoled myself the previous evening over the loss of Pooh with the thought that the penguin was still alive and well at work.
How wrong I was.
Horror awaited me when I arrived at work the next morning. I had left a little early the afternoon before. In my absence, the unthinkable happened.
The penguin was covered with a plastic bag.
Someone had sought to asphyxiate the penguin.
I stood there dumbfounded for what seemed like an eternity. I recovered my senses enough to shoot an email to my neighborly coworker about his penguin. What happened? It looks as though the penguin had given up his will to live.
The answer: The intern got mad.
What?! The intern? And he seemed like such a nice guy…like the boy next door. What could the penguin have possibly done to cause him to attempt to kill it?
I waited for others to trickle in and heard the horrible tale recounted. The intern did indeed try to suffocate the penguin. But only in retaliation for something the penguin’s “guardian” said or did. Or, if the intern himself is to be believed, he did it in collusion with the penguin’s “guardian”.
I didn’t want to hear any more. It was too much. I was horrified. Thankfully penguins can hold their breaths for long dives. The penguin thwarted the murder attempt with this ability. Essentially he held his breath all night waiting for me to show up to rescue him.
I was quick to email his “guardian” again, relaying that the penguin had suffered psychological damage as had his neighbor (me) and that Penguin Services may place him in foster care.
No response. Clearly this was a case of parental neglect, not to mention abuse.
Up to this point, I had kept my relationship with the penguin pretty much under wraps. Only the “guardian” knew about it. But now I risked going public, indicating my shock and dismay at their callous treatment of the penguin.
A short bit later, in our daily team meeting, the penguin’s “guardian” joined the meeting long distance via a Google hangout. When I found myself “face to face” with him on a laptop, before relaying my status about the project, I called him—in front of God and the entire team—”Penguin Killer” to his face.
He did not deny it.
In fact, I think he delighted in it.
Such is the team I work with.
Things can never quite be the same again. Even if the penguin is safe from feature murder attempts, things are a bit awkward now with our relationship out in the open. All are aware of the silly Amy predilection of taking delight in making inanimate objects—in this case a stuffed animal—real. But really, why would one want to live in a world where stuffed animals aren’t alive?