Margot Orakashi is Out on Maternity
Another first day of work, another Monday. It was Monday when we met and a Monday when my heart broke with joy as you filled my lonesome mug with mercy --
"Soup for breakfast?"
"Hmm? Yah, I grabbed it on the way out the door."
"God, are we out of creamer? I had a carton of Half & Half on Friday, and I bet...I just bet it got tossed out. That sucks. I need creamer. I can't drink coffee without cream."
"I think I saw a carton of soy in there."
You are with me always and I feel you on my head; squatting, navigating, gripping my ears like handles on the tall wheel of a giant clipper ship, steering me towards Beulah Land --
"Nasty. Me no likey da' soy. Soy sauce? Perhaps. Soy milk? No, gracias. Screw it, I'll load up on sugar. Though Equal's probably a better idea, this sugar looks Paleolithic. This is either your first day or maybe you're a squatter?"
"I'll be handling the network documentation while Margot Orakashi is out on maternity."
"A contractor? Scab! Stay away from my job -- I'm a good man! I'm kidding. I was a contractor until February. Awesome way to get integrated. Try-before-you-buy."
"I'm not really looking for a permanent gig. Contracting seems to agree with me."
"So, what exactly's the story with the hat?"
"As far as...?"
"You wear it because of a head injury?"
"Really? Right-on. Have you...always worn it or...is it sort of a new thing? I don't mean to be a dick..."
"I've actually worn it every day for just under three years."
"Right-on. Is it like personal expression or...like a protest?"
"Sorry, I've never seen anyone wear anything like that to work. Or anywhere. I think it's rad and totally unique. I think it's great. I'm totally pro-that hat."
"It's actually a helmet. It's a bicycle helmet. I've just put so much duct tape and paint on it you can't see the original helmet any more. There's probably twenty layers of bumper-stickers on it. I bet I've got an old Mondale/Ferraro down in there somewhere."
"I'm Gregg, by the way."
"Oh, sorry -- duh. I'm Leif. I'm in Provisioning."
"Actually no, like 'lay' with an 'f' at the end. Traditional Nordic pronunciation -- I lived in Norway for 2 years. Grad school. Uff Da!"
"There you go. So, and I'm sorry to be so infatuated with this -- tell me if I'm getting obnoxious, but just in case someone were to ask me, what's your sort of philosophy about the helmet. As far as why you wear it?"
"I started riding a bike to work about three years ago. I was working over near Chinatown and was the only one in the office one morning. I still remember how alone I felt. How cold. I sat at my desk and checked email and such -- with all my bike gear still on -- and as the heat kicked-in and the office warmed up, I started removing my jacket and my gloves and my bike shoes, but for some reason I left the helmet on. It felt like a warm brick that kept me from floating away and told me I was beautiful. I stared out the window at this Mosque and, for the first time in my life, I prayed. I asked Jesus Christ to come into my life and serve as my personal savior. He replied sure and welcome aboard. I guess I wanted to sort of celebrate the adornments I wore when I was saved. I began wearing the helmet full-time from then on. It's a great conversation starter, and it gives me multiple opportunities to relate to others my personal testimony of Jesus Christ."
"Fascinating. I'm curious, why do real intense Christians always say Jesus Christ, instead of just Jesus? Or My Personal Savior, as opposed to My Soul-Mate or something?"
"I don't know."
"I always wondered that. Just seems so formal. I figured they must coach you guys to say it that way. You know? Like, when representing the church, it is important to speak with clarity and good diction, yada, yada. "
"No one's really ever coached me. I just sort of picked it up."
"I always wondered that. I guess intense isn't how I should describe someone who's really into church and God, is it?"
"I guess intense is what I mean. You've never had an employer complain and make you take it off?"
"Nope. If anyone protests, I just go to the HR department and tell them it's part of my religious expression. No one says boo after that."
"Too funny. You look like one of the guys in Gwar. Do you know who Gwar is?"
"They're rad. Real heavy, hardcore band. Is that the only one you have?"
"Got a few of 'em. I have one with Christmas lights I rigged with a 9 volt battery for holidays, one with reflectors, one that's all furry and soft. I have one with a little pocket to hold religious materials and --"
" -- Leif! How was the weekend, bro?"
"Hey, Great Dane. Good. You?"
"Completely fucking awesome. Fill you in on the nasties later, but completely awesome."
"No, went rock climbing with Cassidy. Her first time. Totally beautiful trip. Just complete nature and shit. We really clicked. Lots of wine and cheese. Very European. We listened to that whole Nelly CD on the way up."
"Totally. How 'bout you? Out carousin' with Skeet?"
"No, just chilled. Finished that Chabon book -- really good, by the way. Just kept it low-key. Got Riley a new leash and we hung out in the park."
"Nice. Face-time with the dog is important. I gotta fuckin' borrow that book from you, Bro. Totally need to commit to reading more. Make myself turn off the tube and just do it. It's tough with basketball and football starting up."
"I know -- Oh, I'm sorry, Dane, this is Gregg. He's our new contractor 'til Margot gets back."
"Filling in for Oral-Kashi, eh? Got some pretty big knee pads to fill -- Jesus freakin' Christ, I'm terrible. Welcome to the salt mines, Gregger. Dane Kluunboke."
"That's a great name."
"Thanks, it's South African. And that's a great hat."
"It's a helmet. I've been grilling him about it for like ten minutes."
"No, you haven't been grilling me, you're just curious."
"Gregg's been wearing helmets to work for 3 years."
"Outstanding. I'm assuming it's a hockey helmet?"
"No, it's a bicycle helmet."
"Actually it is a Bell."
"Love Bell. I've got a Standflex and I never wear it. Hurts my ears and it's heavy."
"Panatech's do that, too. I only wear Bell now."
"If you don't mind the imposition, what's the medical prognosis regarding how long you'll need the protection?"
"I don't wear it based on a doctor's recommendation."
"Jesus Christ told him to wear it. When he accepted him as his personal savior. See that? How I said Jesus Christ? I'm gettin' mass intense."
"That's compelling to me, Gregg. I take it you're a creative and unique individual."
"I never thought about it."
"My sister's creative and unique. She went to a hippy clown college in Oregon -- I swear to god. Graduated in big shoes and everything. Now she sells flip-flops on e-Bay. I don't have a creative bone in my body, but I also am not thirty five with six filthy roommates and still borrowing money from our mother. She's the biggest flake. Check it out: she gave me a Phish CD for Christmas that'd already been opened and was all scratched. I'm like, 'My God, Alice actually devised a method to compound the bummer that receiving a Phish album induces.' I was almost proud of her for the creative 'fuck you.'"
"Well, hopefully she's happy."
"It's of absolutely no consequence to me. Well, Sir Gregg, I should let you finish your...what is that, ramen?"
"It is. I'm a ramen lover."
"Me, too. Makes me feel like I'm in college again and it's cheap as fuck. Save my money for the poonanner."
"Totally. In Norway they have this stuff called Fiskesuppe. It's like slimy ramen made out of fish."
"Nice. I'll let you chaps get back to your conversation, just came in to nuke the java. Gregg, nice meeting you. Leif? Portman's after work for a brewhaha?"
"Outstanding. I'll give you the 411 on my weekend. Later, gents."
"Seems like a nice guy."
"Dane's cool. He's in Biz-Dev. Director."
"That's good to know."
"Well I better dive into my inbox."
"Okay. I'm waiting for the management meeting to end so I can find out what I'm supposed to start on."
"Good luck. I'd give it fifteen minutes, then knock on the door. They might be in there all day."
"Ok. Nice meeting you, Leif."
"Back atya', Gregg. I imagine I'll come up with a bunch of additionally stupid questions to ask. I'm sure I'll be lookin' for you."
"I'm pretty easy to spot."
-- O Lord, let thy ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants who delight to fear thy name; and give success to thy servant today, and grant me mercy in the sight of these men, for I am cupbearer to the king.
About the author:
James Ward is precious to a fault. He spends evenings alone on his cot listening for the midnight shrill of the spider monkeys he calls, 'Le Petite Comediennes'.