I joined an engineering company in the Summer of 1997. Later that year, or possibly early in 1998, my boss gave me a circuit board, about 12 inches by 15, with loads of components on it, and asked me to do something with it.
What did he ask me to do? I can't remember. I was working on something else, and I wasn't listening properly.
When I was finished doing the other task, I looked at the board and
thought, "What do I do with this?" I didn't want to ask the boss, because he'd be annoyed at having to tell me all over again. So I just stuffed the board into the space between my block of drawers and my desktop. Every now and then I would get it out and look at it, hoping I'd remember what I was meant to do with it. As time went on, I dreaded the thought of asking my boss what I was supposed to do with this board, because he'd be furious that I'd left it so long before asking him.
After a year or so we moved from our office to another part of the site, into a former stately home with a view across fields down to the sea. It was a lovely place to work. Somehow I managed to get this circuit board
transferred to a space between the drawer-block and desktop in the new location. I don't know how I managed that because I was actually off sick during the move.
Every now and then the board surfaced for some reason. I would look at it, feel guilty, then quickly hide it again. There was no way I could admit to the boss that I'd done nothing with it - and for that matter prevented anybody else from doing anything with it!
Then in February 2002 I was called into an office to be told I was to be made redundant. This was an indirect result of 9/11 - we'd lost so much business that a lot of staff had to be let go. I was one of them, and I was devastated. It was a really traumatic period of my life. In an effort to leave on good terms, I went around all my colleagues, shook their hands and said my farewells. A lot of them were very upset too as I got on well with them.
I then got on my bike and cycled home. But the funny thing is, underneath the trauma, there was a flicker of wonderful relief. I was never, ever going to have to account for that circuit board!
I take delight in that even now. The moral to the story is, some things really do stay in the past; some things are incapable of coming back to bite you.