The other Thing that happened at Goodwill was Bob.
His actual name isn’t Bob. I can’t remember what his actual, real name was – or is – although it occurs to me that I never outright learned it in the first place. But I feel that he is – or was – very Bob-like. He emanated Bob; was infused with Bob-ness. Absolutely reeked of Bob.
So, OK. Bob.
It wasn’t so much him, I guess, but what he did.
To tell you the truth, the Goodwill I worked at was, top to bottom, an almost-new Goodwill: they had found an old building, gutted it and built the Goodwill from the inside out. So that there was an intervening, makeshift period as the Goodwill was becoming a Goodwill that lunches were eaten, stored and discarded here-or-there, that garbage floated this-way-and-that and that bathrooms were take-it-or-leave-it rented Port-O-Potties with pathetic rations of tissue. There wasn’t any running water for months, although Team Leader Annica seemed to think that hand sanitizer was even better, matter of fact.
For her, it was altogether primordial.
On and on it went like this. The flies, naturally, flourished. Generations upon generations. Ancestors and descendants. Whole genealogies of flies! Mothers and sons and fathers and daughters and cousins and nieces and nephews and grandparents and on and on.
Bob was from the B-Cohort; those hired after the Goodwill had officially opened its doors to the public. Those of us in the A-Cohort were, naturally, suspicious and resentful of B-Cohort. We, after all, had been there since the beginning, before you lot came around with your bodies and enquires and before the flies even and yes, we know there are, like, a ton of flies around. You think we’re not aware of the flies??
Bob had a solution.
Yes. He put a penny in a baggy and he filled it with water. Then he stuck it to the wall and *winked*, actions that quite suited Bob, the gregarious, Bob, the earnest, Bob magic man and whose one lazy eye flickered with a certain shamelessness that was hard to ignore completely. (I may have added the wink).
Good ‘ol Bob.
See, Bob’s Bob-like behavior didn’t exactly strike me as aberrant or weird. He and it were just another and another quirk of the place itself. Bob was atmosphere, he was au jus. Just like how Manger Steve managed to sigh-slouch-slide into his black shrivel chair in a way that was invariably…graceful. The way a dancer’s body sways in time to music only it can hear, or the way a hot air balloon simply gives in and deflates over and into its basket.
Or like how Annica would invariably declare that the lunch special next door was pretty good, actually, for oriental food anyway, so long as you picked out all that Chinese seaweed.
And like how Fat Don could reduce cashiers to tears but was also truly heartbroken at all the mismatched Crocs that were donated to the store on an almost daily basis.
What reason, then, was there to deny Bob his bag?
But then, why? Why this bag?
A few working theories.
- All of the below.
- The reflection of the penny in its transparent womb, compounded with the fly’s compound eyes and the light of the day, will appear to the fly to be a predator (i.e. a hornets’ net, or a horde of wasps or one singular, giant wasp or hornet), and thus serves to make it chase itself away for you.
- The reflection of the water’s tiny prisms against the light assaults the fly with a dizzying array of colour and movement, disorienting the creature and forcing it to make a hasty escape to a more welcoming reality.
- The fly sees its own reflection, possibly magnified, and in a fit of fly-self-hate and/or fly-on-fly hatred fleas. Flees.
- Your average housefly has a crippling fear of drowning and an equally crippling, incurable claustrophobia and will do whatever it can to avoid enclosed bodies of water.
Whatever the reason for the bag – Bob’s Bag – Bob’s faith never wavered. It would work. It does work. And before I left Goodwill it seemed as though – yes – there were less flies buzzing around the place.
It was just such a Bob Thing to do, you know?
 The collective “they”. You know, Them.
 Seriously. It was bok choy.