I used to work in an open plan office, with about twenty-eight other people, and quite a few plants. Apart from one brief visit in October, I last left the office on March 17th. So did everyone else. From time to time, one or two people wound wonder what to do about the plants, but by and large we were far more concerned about the students, each other, and getting our teaching and - for me the really big adventure - assessment all online in a really short period of time.
I mentioned that if someone else would fetch the plants, I'd be happy to look after them.
Then it was forgotten again. Only t'Boss had access to the office. I told him I would look after the plants if he would fetch them.
Then nothing happened for a bit. By this point I fully expected all the plants to be dead, which was a bit sad.
Finally, on July 1st, a car double parked in the middle of the road outside my house, and a motley collection of pot plants was quickly offloaded.
They weren't dead. Despite having been left for fifteen weeks in a stifling office, not one of them was dead. To be honest, most of them hadn't been particularly well tended even when we were sharing the office with them, so I ended up repotting every siingle one of them, at the same time as stripping off all their dead bits.
Then I sent an update to all my colleagues, written in the breathless style of a cut-price foreign correspondent:
A couple of months later, I followed up with a human (OK, vegetable) interest update:
September 1st, 2020
The weeping fig, who told me in July of their terror at having felt abandoned by the authorities, now shyly shows off its new leaves. One of the most vulnerable of the plants, staff at the reception centre had initially feared for its life, but the slow process of recovery has begun.
'The operation was particularly tough for us' it told me. 'We had a lot of casualties. But, you know, it had to be done. To be honest, it cleared out some of the dead wood. But we lost a lot of youngsters too that day. Those that came through though ... they're stronger and more independent than ever. The money plant community will be fine.'
'I do miss the intellectual cut and thrust,' it said, from its position on the windowsill, 'But the humidity is awesome.'
'This is the sort of office I always dreamed of,' it sighed. 'Of course, I miss the others, and I know I will go back to Edgar Allen House one day. But a lot of the little 'uns will be putting down roots and staying here, I'm sure of it.'
All the plants agreed that their place was at Edgar Allen House, and most were anxious to return. The amaryllis said 'It's not easy being a university office plant - the heating, the air conditioning, the postmodern angst ... but it's what we know. Some of us have done it for generations. It's not just a job, it's a way of life.'