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Updated: Sep 28, 2022

The man's teaching contract was not renewed when he turned 70. A general rule here. He was angry about it. Wouldn't vacate his office, which, unfortunately, happened to be the office I'd been assigned.

Finally, two weeks into the semester and after multiple directives from the university, he took what he deemed valuable and left twenty-five years of other stuff behind. A ruble heap. A ghost town. A forest of hidden treasures. I could have simply requested that it all be hauled away to the landfill. And 70% will end up there. But for now, I'm sifting through his remains. Too much potential to automatically trash. And, there's an air of sadness to the endeavor. Mildly haunted. But also irritating.

I find teaching materials dating back to the 90s, handwritten notes in English and Arabic, extracurricular club posters he must have helped create, masses of useless cords and a printer so old as to be vintage, dated rhetoric and comp textbooks, cell phone boxes circa flip phone era, floppy disks, and mounds of straight up trash (papers and packaging). Remnants of a long and cluttered career.

In this wasteland, I also find treasures. A vintage red cassette tape player, a miniature British phone booth (I immediately think of Dr. Who), a collection of coins from all over the world, a few cords I really do need, giant old dictionaries and literature anthologies that call for an easy chair and coffee, an Ipad stand, a Chinese wall hanging, an analogue clock, and...20 AED in change (roughly $6). I'm keeping the money. Labor charge.

Now, here's the weird stuff: a VHS video rental card, artificial plant leaves glued to green felt squares, a UAE pride cowboy hat, a package of kabab skewers, a yoga mat, a single black sock, a substantial bag of bark chunks, an instructional manual for condom use, and... (my personal favorite) two poorly tanned animal pelts.

Moral of the story: know how to properly use condoms in your office when doing yoga and lounging on animal pelts beside a shish-kabob bbq while watching VHS rentals and doing felt art?

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