The Fan

When I was fastidiously trying to complete my kitchen remodel, my landlady acted as a broker, obtaining a fan from one of my apartment neighbors to relieve me from the fumes that occurred as I stripped paint from my kitchen cabinets. It was a small fan, but quite powerful. I placed it in my kitchen window and it removed all fumes, sucking them out the window before they had a chance to asphyxiate me.

Stripping the cabinets took much longer than I expected. Originally I thought the project would take a day, maybe a weekend. Six weeks later….

In appreciation, and out of embarrassment, I cleaned the fan, put it in a nice bag, purchased a beautiful orchid in a blue ceramic pot, and wrote a quick thank you.

“Hi, guys! Thanks so much for letting me borrow the fan. Sorry it took me so long to return it. Please accept the orchid as a token of my appreciation. Hope you’re doing well, Lori (305)”

That was two weeks ago. Didn’t think twice about it. Until yesterday.

I came home to a message on my answering machine. “Lori, this is your landlady. Josh from 502 called me to ask about the fan he lent you. Because it’s kind of a heat wave now and they’d like their fan. Could you either call him or preferably, just return the fan?”

My stomach felt as though someone had punched it. He hadn’t received the fan? Or the orchid? He thought I was an ingratiate who didn’t return things borrowed?

I went up to 502 and immediately realized my mistake. I had left the fan and orchid in front of 501. Egads!

I rang 501. No answer.

I rang 502. Josh answered the door. “Hi. I’m Lori. You lent your fan to me, through our landlady. A funny thing happened. At least, I hope you’ll think it’s funny. Thinking I was being considerate, about two weeks ago, I left the fan and an orchid in front of your door. Except that it wasn’t. Your door, that is. I left it in front of 501. I feel horrible. Please tell me again what kind of fan it was (you would think I would know since I had it for six weeks) and I’ll get you another.”

By that time his fiancee had come to the door as well. She tittered and laughed. “Don’t worry about the fan – this is worth it just for the story!”

I again apologized and reiterated that I would get them a new fan. Josh offered, “Don’t worry about it. Someone gave me that fan when I was a ski bum in Utah years ago.” “Oh,” I said, “so it has sentimental value…” We all laughed.

Just then Mr. 501 came to his door. I immediately began, “Hi, you don’t know me, but a couple of weeks ago, I left a fan and an orchid outside of your door….”

He looked at me, somewhat perplexed, “Yeah. We got those. We were kind of surprised, because we didn’t think we owned a fan. We couldn’t remember owning a fan, much less lending it to someone.”

“Well,” I said, “That’s because you didn’t. See, I mistakenly put the fan and orchid in front of your door. It actually belongs to Josh and Amber here. Do you think you could return the fan to them? Feel free to keep the orchid for your troubles, but I’m sure they, as well as I, would appreciate it if you returned the fan.”

He glanced at his feet. “Well, you see, I would like to return the fan, but…”

We all looked at him expectedly.

“Well, my girlfriend and I used to live together. But then, we broke up. And she moved out. And took the fan.”

This so can’t be happening.

“But I can call her, and try to see if she’ll return it.”

Josh and Amber were incredibly gracious. Much laughter as they said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal.”

Mr. 501 assured us he would call his ex-girlfriend and do all that he could to procure the return of the fan before he disappeared inside of his apartment.

Josh and Amber again laughed about the situation, saying this was much better than getting their fan back.

I don’t know which would be a better ending:

a – Mr. 501 calling his girlfriend, explaining the situation, she bringing back the fan, realizing her feelings for him, and they living happily ever after (with the fan returned to 502)


b – Mr. 501 calling his girlfriend, she can’t return the fan because she’s placed it for sale on Craigslist, I’ve seen the ad, purchased the fan, and returned it to Josh and Amber as if nothing ever happened.

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