The story of Harold (Soup and Sandwich) continues with a new week.
Sunday started like any other Sunday. Harold arose punctually with the sound of the alarm clock. There was never any pressing the snooze button for Harold. Time was too valuable to be wasted pressing a snooze button. The world never snoozes, so why should Harold? He quickly went through his morning routine, then went on to the kitchen for coffee.
As expected, Harold found the coffee already brewing. He set it up the night before so that there would be no fumbling through the coffee-making process in the morning. When Harold was ready, so was the coffee. You would not expect anything less from the time managing genius that he was. He had a light breakfast, did some light reading and followed that by cleaning the dishes and neatly putting them away.
Now Harold, master of organization, commander of the schedule, and ruler of all the cleaning supplies, was ready to begin. He would start cleaning in the living room at the front of the house and follow through all the rooms, closets included, until he got to the back of the house. This would generally take all day with a little time off for a second cup of coffee and then again later for a light lunch.
So Harold dusted and vacuumed and swept. Every item was cleaned. As there were very few item on tables or cabinets, the job could be done quickly. Each drawer had to be opened and inspected. Everything had to be in place. A quick visual inventory was taken by Harold’s computer like mind, and nothing was out-of-place when he was finished. Actually, nothing was out-of-place when Harold started, but he just had to check to make sure.
When he got to the bedroom closet he spied a box on the top shelf above the space where his clothes were neatly hung. Harold removed a two-step ladder from behind the bedroom door and put it in from of the closet door. He used it to reach the case on the shelf and then carefully lifted it as if it held a king’s treasure. He brought it carefully down the steps and carried it to the living room. There he set it on the coffee table, which never saw any coffee, and he sat down on the sofa.
Years earlier Harold had the case made to his exact specifications. While its outward appearance was of an ordinary cardboard box, it was reinforced on the inside to hold the heavy and precious items Harold had so carefully collected in his lifetime. The sections were of various sizes because the contents were all different in shape.
While no one who saw Harold’s neat, clean and modest apartment would ever suspect, Harold was a collector of rare Japanese and Chinese porcelain. They were the only collectables in his possession and they were as much an investment as they were a collection. The pieces were carefully procured over many years. He had to be careful in his choices, as there were many fakes on the market.
The items also had to be something that Harold enjoyed. If they were not aesthetically pleasing to his eye, he did not purchase them. He could not imagine spending a lot of money on something, if they were not good to look at. Of course, he was the only one who ever saw them.
Once Harold went to China for vacation, partly because he thought he had a lead on a piece of Imperial porcelain of the Yuan dynasty. It turned out not to be so, but he settled on a piece from a later period. It was his only trip outside the country. Everything else was purchased from collectors and auctions. Now he had a box full, a little bigger than the standard shirt box.
As always, Harold carefully removed the cover. On this day, as in every Sunday, he would pick up one piece and examine and admire it closely, but wait! There was a piece missing. A porcelain egg was not in its place. Harold’s mind was racing.
Where could it be? Did someone break in and steal it? No, that makes no sense. Why steal the egg and leave the rest? Did he lose it? Impossible! He never took them out of the house. It must simply be misplaced. How could the well-organized Harold have misplaced anything?
Harold was frantic. He wanted to get up and start searching the house but his body went numb. He started to shiver. Never was an item of Harold’s life out-of-place and now a precious piece was missing. His stomach was all twisted in knots. He struggled just to get to his feet.
When he got his wits about himself, he started a careful and well-organized search of the house. Since it seem unlikely to be in any of the places he just cleaned, he searched everywhere else, some places multiple times. When the egg was not found, Harold sunk to his knees and prayed to St. Anthony, patron of lost items. The egg remained lost.
Harold returned to the sofa, sat down and stared at the case with the empty space. Through the careful collection of these porcelain items over the years, Harold felt that his very life had gained in value. Now the missing porcelain egg, soft and beautiful in his mind, caused a tear to come to Harold’s eye. He could not shake the feeling that now he himself, through stupidity or carelessness or whatever, was worth a little less.