The first sloth appeared on Clarissa’s desk, right next to her keyboard. The statue’s dark brown eyes stared, its painted mouth smiled wide, and its three toes curled around a tiny sign that read “Follow your dreams!”
“What the fuck,” she said. She picked it up with two fingers, held it at arm’s length.
I shrugged. “I think it’s nice,” I said. “Maybe you have a secret admirer.”
She made a face and shoved the creature into her snack drawer.
The next day our boss Kevin called her into the office, and fifteen minutes later she was packing her desk. Our profits were down, Kevin said, and the board wanted results. I held the door for her. “Call me,” I shouted at her back. “I’ll treat at happy hour this Friday.” She kicked open the outside door and gave me the finger.
Lourdes from accounting got a sloth, and so did Junior and Mike. We held the door for them as they left forever, their cardboard boxes filled with family photos and desk cacti and deflated exercise balls.
Next went Denise. (We’d never liked Denise.)
“How many of them do you think he has in there?” we asked each other. “Ten more? Fifty?”
We stopped taking long lunches and calling off “sick” to see the Cubs. We took work home. We never, ever wore tennis shoes.
Sales cleared out, and so did Marketing. Customer Service too. Only a handful of us were left, and we tried to strategize. Synergy! Innovation! “Maybe someone should talk to him,” we said. “Soon there won’t be any company left, and at that point, who cares about the bottom line?” Barry insisted that’d already been done.
“Did you know that ‘two-toed sloth’ is actually a misnomer?” he said. “All sloths have three toes.”
“Shut up, Barry,” we said. Our voices echoed across the tops of the empty grey cubicles.
My sloth showed up on a Friday. I came in early, dragging a huge four-color poster I’d made up at Kinko’s for our team meeting. The figurine sat atop the stack of memos I’d carefully scattered the night before. I picked him up and rubbed my thumb across his hard, plastic body. Worn beige utility carpet stretched out all around me. He looked so harmless with his big goofy grin.