July 7, 2003
Whole Lotta Monday

Monday 7:11 a.m.

The Junior Environmental Manager Guy is about to ask me if I had a nice weekend. I just know it.

We are the only two people in the Dirt Company office so far this morning: I caught a glimpse of him, sitting alone in his office, as I was sneaking in through the back entrance a few minutes ago. (I swear it looked like he was buffing his computer keyboard with a cloth diaper.)  Although we haven't officially made eye contact yet, I swear to god you could see his tail starting to wag when he heard the sound of my keys in the deadbolt. He's like a puppy tied to a parking meter outside the A&P, waiting for someone to come along and scratch him behind the ears.

Please please please, I implore to the office gods, as I plop into my chair with a bucket-sized cup of coffee in one hand and half a banana in the other hand. Pleeeeeeeeease let me ingest at least eight ounces of caffeine and potassium before anybody talks to me.

(Especially the Junior Marketing Guy, I add ... on the off chance that Somebody is actually up there listening to me.)

The first Monday morning of the month is always the toughest Monday morning of the month. David's got his big sales meeting at the newspaper -- the once-monthly anti-incentive rally (You People Aren't Overworked Enough! So We're Giving You MORE Ridiculous Time-Wasting Stuff To Do For Even LESS Money!) -- which starts promptly at the dot of 7:30 a.m. This requires the two of us to be up and out of the apartment forty-five minutes earlier than usual. Combine that with the crappiest night's sleep I've had in months -- Upstairs Neighbor Asshole was drop-kicking sixty-pound cinder blocks on the floor above my head until dawn -- plus the fact that I'm dragging myself back to work after a lovely three-day holiday weekend -- and that adds up to a whole lot of Monday. 

If there is a bright side to coming in so early, it's the luxury of having a few quiet moments to myself before the phones start ringing. Time to ingest a little uninterrupted Peet's Dark Roast. Time to read my e-mail. Time to pay a few bills and balance my checkbook. Time to apply that leisurely fourth layer of Maybelline.

The last thing in the world I want right now is to start trading weekend activity reports with the Junior Marketing Guy.

Out of the corner of my eye I can see him positioning himself in his doorway, all twitchy overstimulated Junior Marketing Guy energy ... just waiting to make his big conversational move. I stick my nose directly into my coffee mug, pretending I don't see him, and inhale the fumes until my contact lenses grow cloudy.

It's not like he's actually interested in hearing about my weekend. That's the thing. He couldn't care less if I had a fabulous weekend, or a mediocre weekend, or the most incredibly sucky weekend in the history of incredibly sucky weekends. What he really wants to talk about is HIS weekend. Specifically: he wants to talk about The Giants some more, and about how they were robbed/how they were vindicated over the weekend, depending on the score, and about how he's still all pissed off about having to leave The Big Game early, a few weeks back, because the bleacher seats were throwing his spine out of alignment. Or else he wants to talk about his allergies, and about how he was never allergic to anything until he reached his fifties, not even pollen or peanuts or dust mites, yet now it seems like he starts watering up the minute he gets onto the Dirt Company elevator in the mornings, just like Niagara Falls, and isn't that so weird? Or else he wants to talk about his recent tragic keyboard injury, which seems to be steadily getting worse instead of better in spite of the fact that he's been to a bazillion physical therapists and eleventeen specialists since the 'accident' happened, and in spite of the fact that The Dirt Company bought him a brand-new bazillion-dollar chair and an ergonomically-correct keyboard for his office, and in spite of the fact that he's taken more time off in the past four months than God and Britney Spears put together.

None of which I give seven-ninths of a crap about, right at this moment.

I sit there, slumped over my coffee mug, wondering if perhaps I should dig my cell phone out of the bottom of my purse and pretend to be riveted in conversation for the next forty-five minutes ... when suddenly the fax machine rings in the next room. Without even thinking about it -- ever the Pavlovian Ass, even pre-caffeine -- I lift my eyes and accidentally look directly into his.

And there it is. Eye contact.


The expression on his face is unmistakeable: earnest, eager, dangerously bright-eyed, determinably approachable, in that Please like me or I'm going to cry way of his. (I'm willing to bet that the Junior Marketing Guy got beat up a lot when he was a kid.) 

"Hi Secra!" he says, in happy faux surprise, like he's just this moment realized that I'm here. "How was your weekend?"

Now I'm stuck. The laws of office karma require that I respond with at least the minimum amount of professional courtesy, otherwise I'm going to wind up typing Anticipated Soil Movement Calculation Reports for the next nine and a half hours, I just know it. The truth, in this case, seems like the way to go. My weekend was actually pretty OK, I should probably tell him. Lots of bike riding, lots of long drooling afternoon naps, lots of fireworks, indoors and out. But then things sorta went downhill last night, when the deaf demented old fudk upstairs decided to start building a barbecue pit in the middle of his living room at 2 a.m. Now I'm running on approximately one hour and twenty minutes' worth of sleep, half a banana and two ounces of caffeine. How was your weekend?

Then again ... the truth is an awful lot of work.

"You know what?" I say to him instead, not unkindly. "I'm not quite ready to talk to anybody, just yet." And I gesture at my still-full coffee cup with a wry smile, as if to say Let me drink my coffee in peace, and I swear to god I'll spend the rest of the day laughing at your jokes and listening to your stories and typing your Anticipated Soil Movement Calculation Reports until my eyeballs fall out. I'll even polish your brand-new ergonomically correct keyboard with a cloth diaper if you ask me to.

He looks startled for a moment -- I wonder if anybody has ever cut him off at the knees this way before? -- and then he nods. "I understand," he says in a very small voice. "I'll leave you alone." And he scurries off down the hallway, this tragic, forlorn little figure with nobody to talk to. I feel terrible ... for about eleven seconds.

And then I finish drinking my coffee.

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~ nil bastardum carborundum ~

nope! nothing down here today!
[i'm too damn TIRED!]