Monday, November 22, 2010

Men @ Work

“No,” I offered simply, my voice sounding low and stuffy, after Morose finished his story. He sighed – a deep and meaningful exhalation of air – and I couldn’t help smiling in response.

I wear a lot of black and gray, but can never resist adding a bit of something to relieve the absorption of all light. Red shoes, a sparkly necklace, an oversized ring, a colorful shirt under my black or gray sweater. Morose is clad in black from head to foot and I’ve often wondered if there exist other colors in his closet. If so, they must be rarely worn and out of place.

“This is stupid,” he told me and I nodded companionably. It’s difficult to work in the field and being handed orders from headquarters, so I don’t mind complaints when people come visit, settling in my office to tell me we’re all idiots.

“We didn’t make the call,” I replied kindly, “and the group is working to reverse some of the worst pieces of the process. But it’s sucky. I’m sorry.” When he simply looked at me, I wondered if he wanted to squash me like a bug under his black shoe or tug me closer to his black button-down shirt for a cuddle. Undoubtedly the former, I decided, and stifled the urge to ruffle his hair. “It’s like airports, kiddo,” I offered, realizing I only use that endearment for men older than I am. “If you want to fly here…”

“I don’t,” he interrupted me and I giggled without meaning to. Clearing my throat, I continued.

“Fair enough. If you must fly here,” I paused and he nodded, “then you must submit to the body scans and intimate pat downs and luggage screenings. Our current process is like that. It doesn’t really help anything and mostly exists to waste time, but it’s part of working here so you can uselessly rail against it, find another job, or discover a way to work with the process.”

“Fine,” he said, the word weighted with disappointment that he must interact with such inferior beings, and walked away, his shoulders straight but head slightly slumped with the hideous nature of our existence.

I can’t help it – I like him. He amuses me.


“So you’re dating,” one of the upper managers noted conversationally as we walked across campus to a meeting.

“I am,” I confirmed, cocking my head with affectionate dismay as to how quickly gossip spreads. Especially when I so rarely do anything interesting on a personal level. Deciding I should continue the conversation, I asked if he had dated much before meeting his wife.

“Not at all,” he replied and I nodded, wondering how it felt to meet the one you wanted to know forever when you were young. Or old. Or at all.

“It’s an interesting and happy process,” I confided. “And I’m better at dating having worked here – I guess I’m more comfortable meeting new people and exploring new situations with some degree of confidence and grace. And I enjoy men – think they’re smart and funny and interesting. So it’s good.”

He didn’t reply and we still had several minutes left to walk so I tried again, thinking he’d selected the topic so I might as well go with it.

“How long did you and your wife date before you got engaged?” I asked and blinked when he replied that they’d talked on the phone for about 20 minutes.

“Arranged marriages are fairly common,” he explained when I remained speechless, trying to simultaneously 1) sort out a suitable response, 2) decide why I was so surprised when I’d actually heard something about his personal life and 3) repress all the questions I had about that situation.

“Oh,” I said and smiled weakly, no doubt impressing him with my quick thinking, unending charm and impossible wit. I’m waiting for news of my next promotion to arrive at any moment.


“You know,” I offered as I trailed behind Adam, “most of my photos in Tokyo have your left shoulder in the right corner.” He glanced behind him, offering me a puzzled expression that has grown familiar, and I sighed. “I find I follow you around like a puppy dog. It’s a little insulting.”

“No,” he disagreed, stopping for a moment so I could catch up. “It’s more than a little creepy.”

“It is not!” I protested. “You knew I was there! I do not follow you around when you don’t know. Like I even care what you do or where you go. Jackass.” And he laughed and laughed which made me giggle and so I bought him a soda before we sat to have our weekly progress meeting.

We chatted and I made notes and he tossed a kernel of popcorn at me when I told him he was being stupid. I argued that some tasks made no sense but agreed to do them anyway. I flat-out refused to work on something else and basked in compliments for recent Big Events that have gone exceedingly well.

I wrinkled my nose at his last request and he paused to sigh at me, threateningly holding another puff of popcorn to throw my way. I narrowed my eyes and crossed my arms, prepared to pout and let the popcorn hit me if need be.

“I don’t want to,” I whined dramatically. “I’m sure he’s a lovely person, but I’m not impressed so far.”

“Katie.” Adam rebuked, eating his popcorn and making me glare. I don’t mind being disobedient, but I hate being disappointing so I immediately recognized he’d started to manipulate me.

“He’s bossy!” I tried to explain. “And it bugs me.”

“He’s French,” he stated simply and I paused to think.

“That’s oddly true,” I decided after a moment. “The general rule is French + Industry = Katie wants to kick at you. At least at first. Is it me? Am I difficult to work with? Too Midwestern?”

“Yes,” he replied simply and I nodded before stealing the rest of his popcorn and agreeing to mentor the Frenchman.


I'm traveling - which is lovely as I've started to miss it - but terrible in that I do have a cold and my ears didn't pop when the plane landed so everything sounds like it's underwater. Except anything I do - it's insanely loud when I walk in my pretty flats or chew gum or swallow a drink of water in some vain attempt to stop the aching in my ears.

I'm also fretting, which is silly, so I'm giving you little stories rather than paragraphs of 'why Katie is concerned' because I work with delightful individuals and I'm always concerned about something anyway. I hope that you're all healthy and happy and otherwise well.

1 comment:

Psych Post Doc said...

Argh, I hate flying with a head cold. :( I hope your ears have popped and you're able to hear appropriately and that whatever you're concerned about has resolved itself positively.

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