I had but two tasks for my day when I arrived in my office. I first found parking, pulling neatly into my favorite of the illegal spots within scampering distance of the bus stop.
“Ha, ha!” I said when I saw that there was room for my tiny car. “I win!” I noted to the other cars who slowly swarmed the parking lot, looking for any space to leave their vehicles. It helps to drive something compact. I made my way to my building, sat at my desk and set about gathering materials for one half of my mission.
I pulled three sheets from a file, stacked them neatly and set them aside. I printed the document I prepared for SPB - it had every detail that might be relevant and I didn’t want to recreate a document that already existed. Then I found the email I’d sent to Elusive one week ago. In the last seven days, he’s ignored two phone messages and three pages. Given that collaborators and his assistant have sighed over how difficult his attention is to catch, I narrowed my eyes with determination. I printed the email, added notes on what he’d find in my packet, placed a staple in the corner and nodded with satisfaction.
“On to the other aim.” I muttered with a glance at the clock, feeling pleased I was alone in the office as I gathered another file and tucked my key in my pocket before making what I hoped was the last of many trips across campus.
I barely restrained myself from stamping my feet upon finding someone using the equipment already. Instead, I cleared my throat to get her attention as I lingered in the doorway.
“Hello,” I returned her greeting. “I was just checking the calendar to see when the room was free.”
“Oh,” she said, “I was just doing this transfer that should take two minutes. Then it’s all yours.”
“Really?” I asked, already pulling out a chair to sit. “I hate to hurry you so please take your time. But there are always classes or labs in here lately and I can never get this one thing done. I'll just sit here and wait quietly.”
She nodded and smiled before finishing up and leaving the room.
“Terribly rude,” I scolded myself, the words belying my victorious grin as I moved toward the precious computer I needed. “But wildly effective.”
I transferred some files of my own, archived what I needed, checked my list and clapped my hands when I realized I was done. After checking to make sure nobody saw my self-congratulatory gesture, I hurried back to my office to implement the last part of my plan.
“I’m going to a seminar,” I told Marlie as she sat at her desk. “Would you like to go?”
She pointed to a notice on her board and I nodded. We set out away from the office and though she’d checked the door three times before we walked away, she ran back down the hall to try the knob one more time as I watched, bemused. Deciding I had too many quirks of my own to begrudge her any, I selected a box lunch and pounced on an oatmeal raisin cookie bigger than my hand before finding a seat. Thrilled with said cookie, I looked at it eagerly even as I tucked it inside the box.
I placed my notebook and the stapled pages on my lap, reminding myself that regardless of cookie delight, I was there to track down Elusive. Glancing around the rapidly filling room, I didn’t see him. But it was a talk in his sub-specialty so he was almost certain to attend. And I was equally sure I would recognize him. Since we’ve only met once, I looked up his faculty page and stared at his photo, committing it to memory. I pouted when I didn’t see him arrive - stupid room with doors in the front and rear - and began to eat my delicious sandwich.
I made it to my cookie - which was soft and huge and stunningly good - a few minutes into a dreadfully boring talk. Though it was huge, it was gone all too soon. Without the perfect taste and texture, I was left to impatiently wait until the end of our guest’s remarks. As soon as he finished, I stood and turned to examine the back of the room. I had carefully noted every person seated in front of me but that left my back to several rows where Elusive could easily lurk.
“Target acquired! Target acquired!” I resisted shouting as I impatiently shuffled to scoot people out of my way. “This is my only chance, people! I have stapled pages! Move, move, move!” My mental energy must have worked because I soon reached the very last row before placing myself between his chair and the door.
“Elusive,” I said. “I need a moment of your time.”
He smiled at me, looking only slightly worried as I blocked his exit, and took the papers I handed him. I explained - hurriedly and mostly in incomprehensible loops - the project and my request to SPB and our initial results and how I needed a clinical opinion. He nodded agreeably and flipped through the pages of his packet.
“There he is,” Elusive noted as Colleague returned to the room. The results in question are Colleague's but since it's my project overall, I'm left to fight the battles for more time or to track down faculty members to get the necessary opinions.
“Hello,” Colleague said as he stood in front of us in the empty conference room.
“I captured him!” I said proudly and Elusive looked at me strangely again. Colleague - familiar with Elusive's nature - simply nodded.
“I understand what you’ve done - she’s explained everything,” Elusive told Colleague.
“I am sorry to bother you with this,” I said. “But I do need some help deciding what to do next.”
“My pleasure,” he demurred. “I appreciate you asking me.”
“So you’ll be in touch?” I clarified. “Send email, page or call me?” He nodded and I smiled.
“If not,” I said lightly once I reached my empty office again, “I’ll find a way to track you down, I suppose.”