We're no stranger to snow in Maine. With the first major snowstorm of the season under our belts, I've started to do what many people up here do this time of year: wear different shoes outside, and bring my work shoes to change into at work. By swapping shoes at work, you don't get your nice shoes wet or damaged at all from the salt and slush.
Because I'm a considerate guy, I bring a plastic bag to put my winter shoes in after I've changed into my work shoes. That way they don't get the carpet at my desk all wet and dirty, thus making less work for the cleaning crew. Lots of people do this, so on Monday when I came into work, changed out of my sneakers and into my work shoes, placed my sneakers in my plastic bag, loosely tied up the handles and set them on the floor by my desk, I thought nothing of it.
My shoes sat in their plastic bag all throughout the day, waiting quietly by the side of my desk. As my shift ended and I started gathering my things, I bent down to grab my shoes, but they were gone. At first I thought that my cubicle neighbor was playing a prank on me. He denied it, and at this point in the evening, there was no one else around that could have taken them. No one except the cleaning lady.
I recalled that she had been making the rounds not too long ago, emptying the trash cans at all of the desks for the night. I had been sitting at my desk for a couple hours without getting up, and had been sitting there when she came through collecting trash. She must have thought that they were trash, and took them with her.
By the time I tracked her down, she was vacuuming on the other side of the building. I questioned her about the shoes, and she recalled picking them up. I told her that they weren't trash, that I needed my shoes back, and she seemed surprised. She told me that she wasn't sure if they were trash or not, but assumed they were after a moment or two of thought. When I asked her why she didn't ask me about them before just assuming (since I was right there at the time, within arms reach of them, in fact), she just shrugged and mumbled something, and started walking towards the janitor's closet.
I followed her, and watched as she dug through some bags of trash to retrieve my shoes. They were still in their plastic bag, thankfully, and had been shielded from all the coffee sludge and dirty tissues that had been tossed in after it. She apologized to me afterwards, and I told her it was okay, because in the end, it was. That doesn't mean I wasn't upset about it, though.
If you ever needed an example of why it's best to never assume, remember this story.