From My Day, Part One:
woman in the
checkout line ahead of me this morning is buying flowers.
chirps the young checkout clerk. "Are they tulips?" And she presses the
cellophane-wrapped bouquet to her nose. There is a large black-on-white
label affixed to the cellophane -- "TULIPS!"
reads, in sky-high letters: "SPECIAL
-- but I suspect that the clerk is simply making conversation.
woman nods: a barely
perceptible dip of her elegant chin. "Yes," she says stiffly, as she
pulls her wallet out of her handbag. "Those are tulips."
pretty much the end of the conversation between the two of them. While
the clerk rings up the flowers (and the generic greeting card that goes
with them), I sneak a peek at the woman. She is older than I am by a few years. Tall. Regal. Expensively
dressed, tasteful jewelry,
snooty uncomfortable-looking shoes. She's obviously upper management
... and she's obviously stopping at the grocery store to pick up a
last-minute gift for her administrative support person.
will be $4.89,"
says the checkout clerk. The woman extracts a platinum card from her
I have time to
ask myself why someone wearing a $400 suit is buying her assistant four
bucks' worth of supermarket tulips -- before I even have a chance to
thank my lucky stars that *I* do not work for this woman -- she has
paid for her purchases and departed the grocery store without another
word to anyone.
checkout clerk turns her attention to me. "Hi how ya doing?" she says
hopefully. "Did you find everything OK?"
unload my items from
the shopping basket -- a box of Contac Severe Cold & Flu
Formula, another small bottle of nasal spray, a bag of Vitamin C
lozenges, a jumbo-sized bottle of Aquafina -- and I dump them onto the
conveyor belt to be scanned. The truth is that I'm not much in the mood
for conversation right now -- I'm already fifteen minutes late for
work, and I'm feeling wretched besides -- but after watching this nice
young checkout clerk being given the cold shoulder by Ms. $400 Suit/$4
Tulips, I'm not about to make the morning seem any unfriendlier.
fine, thanks," I
sniffle. "How are you?"
* * * * * *
From My Day, Part Two:
are no flowers on
my desk when I get into the office.
roses. No flowering
kalanchoe. No four-dollar supermarket tulips, even. As a matter of
fact, the only thing waiting for me, when I walk through the door with
my pathetic little bag of cold remedies, is a Post-It note stuck to the
middle of my chair -- See me
about site photos! it screams,
in The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy's weird alien handscribble -- and a
voicemail message from The New Girl, announcing that she's taking
not that I was expecting
flowers, exactly. Just because I got them last year doesn't mean I
automatically expected to get them again this year. [Yes
And simply because today is that most sacred of synthetic holidays --
National SecraTerri's Day -- doesn't mean that I expect my boss and my
co-workers to lavish me with gifts and praise and
cream-cheese-intensive baked goods. [Yes I do.]
And it's not even that I think that *I* am so important or so valuable
or so fabulous, in my role as communications facilitator/daycare
provider/ front desk foreman/lobby goddess, that I believe I deserve
to be recognized in any special way today.
[Yes I do.]
just that if I'd
known they weren't planning to send me flowers this year, I would
have ordered them myself.
* * * * * *
From My Day, Part Three:
don't look so hot,"
says JoAnne. "Everything OK?"
sitting at my desk,
discreetly trying to gnaw the plastic overwrap from my new bottle of
nasal spray. (If I don't get this sucker open and primed and inserted
into my left nostril, stat, I'm going to suffocate with my mouth wide
open.) "I've been better," I tell her honestly. David's leftover cold
germs from last week have finally decided to set up a tailgate picnic
in my upper respiratory system. I've been shnuffling and blurfing and
making any number of wet ghastly inelegant noises since shortly before
bedtime last night.
a matter of fact, I
tell my boss, I came --->this close<--- to calling in
sick today. I had the phone in my hand this morning at 7 a.m. ... I
dialed the office number ... I punched in JoAnne's extension number and
listened to her greeting. But at the very last second I changed my
mind. "I figured you guys might need me today," I say. And we
gaze meaningfully at the In/Out Board, and at The New Girl's second
unauthorized 'Personal Day' in a row.
you," JoAnne says
* * * * * *
From My Day, Part Four:
Main Nerdy Geotech
Guy approaches my desk, midway through the morning. He's carrying the
digital camera by the strap ... dangling it in front of him, like a
prize steelhead on the line. Carefully, he passes it across my desk to
me so I can download the pictures he took during his site visit
soon as I take the
camera from his hand, he wipes his palms on his pants leg.
the way," he says
nonchalantly. "Are you sensitive to poison oak?"
* * * * * *
From My Day, Part Five:
take my lunch a little
bit later than usual today.
not all that hungry,
for one thing. A steady diet of Halls Mentholyptus and pseudoephedrine,
all morning long, has sort of taken the edge off my hunger. Plus I've
been too busy ... mostly trying to plug myself into some of the holes
left by The New Girl's unscheduled 'personal day.' She and I
don't even work
in the same department, but you
know how it is: when one domino falls down on the job, you can hear the
*splat* clear across the office. Late in the afternoon I finally
across the hall, with my turkey-on-wheat and my brand-new paperback,
and I spend a quiet hour alone in the empty DMA office. At some point I
must drift off, sitting up in my chair, because the next thing I know
I'm looking at my watch and it's 3 p.m. already and I'm still only on
page 43 of "The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint."
to report back to
the front lines.
package is sitting in
the middle of my desk when I return. It's wrapped in leftover copier
paper and tied with a length of carefully-curled blue ribbon. On the
front of the package, in her perfect Spencerian handwriting, JoAnne has
written To Secra, with much
appreciation. Inside is a very
nice pen -- a Cross Ion, to be specific -- complete with lanyard so it
can hang around my neck. It's an exact duplicate of the pen that my
wears around the office, and which I have admired and coveted for many
months. The card attached reads I
could not do it without you and I dread the thought of having to. Have
a great day and know how much you are appreciated.
actually feel myself
getting a little misty. I don't know whether it's the sentiment ... or
the Sinex. But I don't care. Who needs flowers, anyway? I've got a pen
necklace and a boss who appreciates me.
to throw a rock?