Monday, August 10, 2009


Today I got to work and realized I hadn’t set anything out for dinner because my brother was still asleep when I left. So, I called him from work.

Me: Hey, I forgot to set out food for dinner tonight. We can have chicken again, or I have some tortilla tilapia in the freezer.

Bro: Chicken’s fine with me if we want to grill it like usual. Or the fish. When will you be home?

Me: Um, around 7-ish.

Bro: Okay, I’ll make the fish and have it ready when you get home. How’s that?

Me: Uh, okay.

Bro: Should I make potatoes and vegetables too? I could grill potatoes and broccoli in [aluminum foil] pockets and bake the fish. Is that good?

Me: Yeah, that would be great. Thanks.

Bro: K. See ya later.

I hung up the phone and proclaimed my brother awesome, saying I didn’t need a husband with MY brother.

Marina asked where she could get a brother like mine. Heh. Nowhere. It comes from a unique combination of fucked-up parents, shared nightmares, almost identical DNA, and a bad job market. Together that makes a brother who is grateful to have me around and wants to help me, and the feeling is mutual.

* * *

Arms has finally come around and is talking to us again. I feel awful for the whole mess and realized how sensitive he is, which made me question myself and how much I make fun of him.

I really have to try to pick on him less. I don’t INTEND to be mean. It’s really just teasing jokes, but maybe he’s not laughing on the inside.

Like the time when he was complaining that he didn’t get invited to the Sox game for library employees and my coworker told him security doesn’t count. She was joking too. But the way she over-enunciated SUH-CURE-ITY caused me to hear something in my head, something I thought was hilarious, and I said, “Arms, you put the SUCK in SUCK-YUR-ITY.” That wasn’t nice, I know, but I figured he knew I was joking because I was almost in tears I was laughing so hard. Wait. Maybe that was mean, too. Dammit.

So, anyway, something came up at work and one of our nutty patrons called the police on Arms because he was walking around the library, watching her and her adult daughter. She knew he was security, but she felt he was stalking her daughter. Her large, retarded daughter. No, I’m not trying to insult her. The daughter is severely mentally handicapped, and her mom has her faculties about her, but just sees the world through the eyes of an imagined and consummate victim. Poor Arms had to explain to the police that no, he didn’t have a crush on the large, retarded girl, and he wasn’t stalking her. They are problem patrons and he was keeping his eye on them because they wreak havoc wherever they go. He was doing his job.

He said to me later, “Man, EVERYONE around here hates me!”

I was horrified. I told him it was not true, that only one person hated him and she was fucking nuts, so that was probably a compliment. But it really made me think that his feelings have been quite hurt.

How can a big, hulking guy who walks around talking about “giving people the bizz-ness” be such a softie? Damn these men. I never know what to do with them. No one is what they appear to be.

* * *

Then there’s Sergeant, who I adore. Seriously, I have said and meant that I’d like to take him home with me and keep him as a pet. Not in a romantic way, but to keep company with my wombats and giraffes and whales and mini-piggies – you know, the cute things I like to pet and play with everyday. Not that I have wombats or giraffes or whales or mini-piggies, but when my zoo is built, I will. And I want Sergeant to be one of my pets.

Today I was asking Arms how the melatonin was working, which I recommended to him for falling asleep, and Sergeant asked where he could get some.

Me: You sleep like a rock. You don’t need it.

And he does. He’s told me so. Except when he had a lottery ticket in his pants pocket, which he hadn’t remembered until he was already undressed and in bed, half asleep. The obsessive need to scratch it and know if he won something drove him toss and turn, trying to fall asleep, and finally he had to get out of bed and creep across the room, then scratch his ticket as quietly as possible by the light of his cell phone, so as not to wake up his girlfriend or their baby. He won $30, so I guess that helped him sleep better that night.

Sergeant: Yeah I do. I need it to give to my baby.

Me: Ooooh, that’s bad!

And he did something so funny, it still makes me laugh. He actually slapped his knee. He made himself laugh so hard, he slapped his own knee. And he was standing up, too.

Who DOES that? Does anyone under the age of 80 do that? He’s so hilarious. See why I want him in my zoo? The big smile and cute Guatemalan accent only make him more endearing, but do you see why I’d like to go out to his enclosure everyday and see what new, amusing thing he’s going to say or do?

Can I make people my pets? Even if I’m really nice to them?

* * *

If ONE MORE PERSON, sitting at the opposite end of the building from me, encounters some kind of computer problem and, instead of walking over to my desk to tell me, starts shouting, “EXCUSE ME! EXCUUUUUSE ME!” I don’t even know what I’m going to do. We have multiple staplers at the reference desk. Don’t make me use them.

* * *

Because of the allergy-fighting properties of English ivy, I recently went out and bought six plants to distribute around. Two plants went into a pot, and a pot went to my room, one to my desk at work, and one I gave to my brother, whose allergies are worse than anyone I know.

He named it Henry. He takes very good care of it.

Bro: Henry has these two long branches like arms, and wherever I put him, he reaches for my computer.

Me: Maybe he wants to check his email, update his MySpace page.

Bro: Henry’s got game. He’s a playa. He’s gotta check on his bitches ‘n’ hos.

Of course my brother got the gangsta ivy. Of course. Soon that plant is going to be all pimped out, big grill on the front of the pot, bass pounding the walls as he chills with his homeboys. But he doesn’t have homeboys. Can you be a gangsta in a gang of one? I guess you can do anything when you’re a badass plant.

I think Henry needs a badass plant name, because Henry just isn’t it.

* * *

We had an all-day, all-staff meeting on Friday, which we just barely survived, and while we were all meeting, the maintenance guys did some major work to the building, like putting some kind of sealer on all the tiles and grout in the lobby and washrooms. Now, I worked in flooring for a while, my dad opened a flooring company, and my brother is a flooring installer, so flooring is in my family, but I’ve never heard of this sealant that you paint onto tiles. Grout, yes; tiles, no. The lobby now shines like it’s covered in an inch of ice, and people are tentatively walking on it as if afraid they’ll slip and fall. A few of us have reached down and touched it, because surely it must be either slippery or tacky. Nothing shines like that and isn’t palpable. Yet, it feels like polyurethane, which is freaky to me. Tile doesn’t look like it’s been shellacked. It’s quite odd and it’s difficult to get used to it.

Marina and I were discussing it today and she said it would be fun to go out there and pretend to slip, then watch people walking carefully and slowly, deliberately, trying not to slip and fall.

I like people who are twisted and warped like me.

Marina is also the person who I nearly peed my pants laughing at when we discussed the hilarity of watching people crash, face-first into the glass doors thinking they’re automatically going to open. Her suggestion was that we develop a scoring system like the Olympics and hold up signs reading 9.5 or 6, or whatever we scored their face crash.

I don’t know what I’d do without her. Probably laugh less.

Last Monday she was having a very bad morning and was unusually fed up with the abundance of Numlocks she was dealing with, so I tried in vain to calm her down, point out how important she was for instructing people in this fashion, and paint a picture of hope for these people that she might not have been able to see. She was simply not receptive to accepting some of the idiot things they were doing, so I shifted gears and asked how we should kill and maim the worst offenders.

That cheered her up. The mouse became a morning star, and we tried to determine how many whacks upon a hard head our keyboards would survive. (One. They’re cheap and these are really hard heads.)

We love our jobs, and we love helping people, but in order to put up with the frustration and repetition, we have to enjoy their suffering just a little bit too.

Okay, maybe we enjoy it a lot. But it keeps us from actually stapling someone to a wall and waling on them with an optic mouse or heaving Chilton manuals at their guts.

Well, so far it has.

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