Back at work from California, I absently scratched my left elbow. "I think I got poison oak when I was out there," I said. "But just on my elbow."
My assistant looked at me incredulously. "ME TOO!" he yelled, displaying a rash in the same spot. I had taken over the California assignment from him. We approached the employee who had been managing the helicopter before both of us and asked the question.
"Yes, but I just thought I had dry skin," he said, distracted by the prescribed burn we were supporting.
We looked at each other. It had to be something on the armrest of the vehicle that we had all driven. We eyed K., our usual carrier monkey, but this time he was blameless; he hadn't been anywhere near the car.
I sent a voice message over the Voxer app to the person who currently had the car. "Do you have an itchy left elbow?" I asked.
"What? NO!" he answered, sounding apprehensive.
"Well, it's probably in the mail," I said. "You might want to clean off the armrest."
We are at a loss. Was it poison oak, and if so, how did it get in the car, and only on the armrest? Managing the helicopter, you typically do not encounter poisonous plants like you do on the fireline. Here is where our CSI skills fail us. What else could it be?