When the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission administration moved into its new home at 525 Golden Gate Avenue, each cubicle came with a housewarming gift: a small plant, really nothing more than a seedling. Some received sunflowers, some received Black-Eyed Susans. Well, that’s what people told me I received. A baby thing, two leaves sticking out of the dirt in a plastic flower pot which contains no more than eight cubic inches of soil.
Almost nobody in my office knew how to care for plants and most didn’t even try, sending dozens of innocent plants to early death like hapless teenyboppers in a bad horror flick. Personally, I think herbs like basil or rosemary would have received better care. But at the end of our first week in the new office, mine was still hanging around, so I watered it, just to see what would happen. I had always felt convinced that I had a black thumb, and my Black-Eyed Susan presented an opportunity to prove myself right. However, after only an hour that puny little two-leaves thing had visibly perked up.
That was interesting.
So I decided upon a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule of watering. After a month in the new office, my plant looked like this:
As of today, it looks like this:
I feel rather stunned. My Black-Eyed Susan proved a rather hardy little scrapper, despite my lack of gardening skills, knowledge and experience. Near my thumb in the left side of the pot, you’ll see a metal thing. That’s a paper clip unfolded and refolded into a sort of crutch to prop up a leaf I had broken. On the napkin at the other side of the pot you will notice a partially straightened paper clip. That is my aerator: I poke holes into the soil to aerate it. That small but tall leaf in the middle? It grew three inches in one week.
This tough little guy is one of three plants still alive in my department. The other two belong to a woman with decades of gardening experience, and they have responded to her expertise. Keep in mind that she received her first plant on the same day I did, but it’s nearly two feet tall! A co-worker gave her the other one, and it’s well over a foot tall.
She has already agreed that whenever I want, she will adopt mine as well. Although I have (very pleasantly) surprised myself by keeping it alive all this time, the best way to keep it alive in the long term and grow to its full potential (literally) is to put in the hands of someone who has two green thumbs and eight green fingers. Yet for now, it is mine, and I feel delighted to have such company in my cubicle.
Vonn Scott Bair