It was a beautiful start. I trod a path across the dew laden lawn to the car at 8:40 am and breathed in the heady scents of an early autumn morning. The sun was already warming the air and another fine Indian summer day beckoned. It could only get better.
I arrived at the warehouse of the renowned cook's and kitchen supplies company who have been kind enough to employ me this last week. Gary, the warehouse manager, strode toward me but without his normal purposeful air; if a gait could signal apology, his was near fawning. I had passed my colleague Jim a few seconds earlier and now I was beginning to wonder why he had appeared to greet me with a knowing smile.
"Morning. Er...mate...I got a shitty job for you. Well, it's not really shitty, like, but...well."
He was folding a pair of long, green, rubber gauntlets.
"They lost some software upstairs. 350 quid's worth. You can take these." He passed me the gauntlets.
"Apparently it's in a white bin bag in a black bin bag. In the skip."
There are two skips. Big ones. The kind they take to landfill sites. 50 yard skips, the biggest you can get. One has cardboard in and goes to the mill. I've already been in that one and you don't need gloves. The other one also has some cardboard in. And lots of other stuff. Bits of broken pallet, plastic shrink wrap off the pallets, some cans. that sort of stuff. And old food. Three week old food and plenty of it. And the waste bags from the office (presumably where the disc was). And alarmingly, the bags from the ladies' khazi. Which are indistinguishable from the bags from the office. Guess which one I spent the first hour rummaging through. An hour in which the sun was slowly rising in a cloudless blue sky, above the nearby tree that had hitherto kept me in a cooling shade. I was wearing three layers and I became very hot. The skip was filled to the brim. I worked from end to end twice. 14 metres of burrowing to the point where I couldn't see over the rim. I didn't find the disc.
Strangely, the most revolting thing I encountered was not the rotting food nor the unmentionable contents of the lavatory bins; it was unwittingly breaking open the bags that contained rubbish emptied from the outdoor ashtray. The smell was truly foul and it was the only one that made me automatically recoil and swear loudly. I was effuse in the refuse.