December 5, 2001
The Astonishingly Buff UPS Guy, shows up at The Dirt Company every
morning around eleven o'clock, give or take half a cup of coffee.
(I've noticed that quite a few women in the office seem to plan their
coffee break around his delivery schedule. It's like being in the middle of a Blue
Light Special in the Maidenform department.) Usually Mark is here to
deliver another forty-pound box of dirt, or to pick up a couple of
forty-pound boxes of dirt, or making arrangements to come back and
pick up ten forty-pound boxes of dirt after hours. He hefts these
incredibly heavy boxes around as deftly as the chef at The Village
Cafe, tossing a pizza crust into the air. It is poetry in motion.
yes, even the [ridiculously-happily] married audience members are able
to appreciate Mark's ... um ... technical prowess.)
morning, however, Mark The Astonishingly Buff UPS Guy is delivering a
smaller package than usual: a mere ten-pounder, instead of the usual
forty. Plus this doesn't look like a box of dirt, for a change. It's
addressed to Scott, The Office Manager, and it's stamped "FRAGILE" on
all sides of the box. It makes a sloshing noise when Mark plunks it
onto the floor next to my desk.
like somebody's Christmas wine is here," says Mark The UPS Guy. Sure
enough: the box is labelled "Ultra Snooty Napa Valley Vineyards Inc."
Apparently this is something of a tradition.
sign for the package, Mark pokes at the box with his foot. "That's some
pretty fancy stuff," he says admiringly. "Bet I know what YOU'RE
getting for a Christmas bonus this year."
I open my mouth to say
something offhanded and witty -- We're already high on life
around here, maybe, or You know what they say:
don't drink and analyze sediment compound data. Instead, an entirely different combination of words spring from my
"I'm not sure if my sponsor would approve," is what I actually wind up
did THAT come from?!?
of all, I don't HAVE a "sponsor." At
least not technically. David sort of qualifies, since he is the one who
hand-held me long-distance through those earliest days of recovery, and
since he is the one who continues to provide daily support and
encouragement. But I am not a graduate of any formal twelve-step
program. And secondly, although I
understand that eventually my new co-workers are going to realize that
I don't drink -- and I'm FINE with that: it's
something I'm very proud of, even though alcohol is clearly a huge part
of the corporate culture here -- I sorta figured the discovery would
unfold naturally. At next summer's Dirt Company Picnic, for instance,
when I'm the only one not sitting there clutching a Bud, or during a
four-martini farewell lunch for someoranother departing geotech, when
I'm demurely sipping my Pepsi Twist.
-- more likely -- at the company Christmas party this Saturday night.
even begun to rehearse the moment in my head. I'm standing in front of
the buffet table on Saturday night, eyeballing the tiramisu, when Scott
or JoAnne or one of the young techs offers me a glass of Ultra Snooty
Napa Valley. I look them straight in the eye, smile sweetly and
say, "No thanks." No further explanation. No elaboration. No
embarrassment or hedging or pretending to take 'just one taste,' just
to keep the peace. I've been mentally/emotionally gearing up for this
moment almost from the first day I came on board The Dirt Company. I
certainly didn't intend to "come out" like this ... in the middle of a
Monday morning, standing in front of my desk signing for a package.
I certainly didn't intend for Mark the UPS Guy to be the person I come
has been happening to me all my life: hearing one thing in my head, but
finding myself saying something else entirely. (And the "something else
entirely" I end up saying is usually a whole lot more embarrassing --
and a whole lot more revealing -- than what I intended to say in the
first place.) I'm not sure if it's the Sagittarius in me ... or the
Grandma Vert. I suspect it's a little of both. This sort of accidental
candor is great when you're writing an Internet journal, of course.
Everybody loves to hear about you peeing your pants when you cough, when all you meant to write about was summer
it can be not-so-great in real life situations.
just a little foolish, I sneak a sideways glance at Mark the UPS Guy.
What could he possibly be thinking, right now? Does he know what a
'sponsor' is? Does he understand the meaning? Does he think I'm
ridiculously prim? Hopelessly prudish? Annoyingly self-righteous?
To my surprise, the look he is giving me is one of understanding ...
"You too?" he says.