Yesterday I was feeling low, not great at all. I decided to do what I usually do to make myself laugh, which is to drive by this one dealership in town.
You see, the thing about this dealership is that they have a DeLorean on display. For those of you who don't know what that is, it was the car from Back to the Future.
When I'm feeling low, I like to drive by the showroom, picture myself test driving that bitch, and gunning it up to 88. For some reason, this always makes me laugh.
Anyway, after spanking it to the DeLorean, I decided to go to the grocery store and pick up some necessities. See: redbull, and starbucks doubleshots.
I ran through there, paid for my caffeine, and on the way out, I saw someone flipping me off. Since this is usually a term of endearment, or a way to express affection (at least to those who know me), I stopped and looked into the car.
It was a girl I used to work with, Erica. Only, I renamed her "Urka".
I stopped long enough to talk to her. She made me laugh by reminding me of some of the shit I used to pull when we worked together.
When I first met her, I thought she was about the biggest bitch in this state. She tended to be really abrasive. I didn't talk to her much. I preferred to avoid her.
Our desks were on the same row, and sometimes she'd stop by and talk to me. I came to a certain compromise, and usually ended up talking to her. Sometimes even teasing her about being barely 5'0. Most of the time I just called her 'fun sized'.
About a year after I met her, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was bad enough that he wasn't expected to make it.
When that happened, she took a lot of time off work. I felt bad about her situation, and instead of being like everyone else who constantly told her how sorry they were, I had my own way of being there for her.
I started dropping by her desk at work, and leaving her funny notes. Once I bought a babyruth, and with white out, painted all the letters out except for the first two and the last two, so it said "bath".
I attached a note with it that said "From all your co-workers. We want you to have one of these."
We used to flip each other off constantly, although I got high marks for being creative about it.
I went over to her desk one day with a blanket over my right hand. I told her "I have a magic trick." I whisked the blanket off my hand, flipped her off, and ran back to my desk.
Sometimes I'd tell her that our boss told me to give her something. I'd dig in my pocket and pull out a big 'fuck you'.
Once I pretended she dropped something, then flipped her off on the way up.
She used to laugh so hard that she'd snort, which was the big payoff. She hated to snort.
One day when she was out, I was composing a particularly long email to her about how she couldn't ride the fun rides at the amusement park, that her shoes were so tiny that people could make keychains out of them, and how I was gonna give her a boob punch the next time I saw her. That was the day I heard that her husband died.
I didn't really know what to do, or how to comfort her. I knew there were tons of people around her, telling her those old battered cliches people pull out, because they think it helps. I don't know if they help or not. I only knew that I'd decided to email her everyday with something funny, that way, for the span of time it took, her mind would be on something else.
The day of the funeral, I had made up my mind to go. Not for him, but for her. Funerals are for the living, and we go to show our respect.
Almost our whole company turned out, and I remember sitting in the church, trying not to cry, but not being able to help myself. I had tried to mentally prepare myself earlier that day, because I was somewhat freaked out by the idea.
While trying to calm down, I sent her an email about something that happened to me on my way to work. I was riding up in the elevator, wearing a black dress, when the panties that I'd put on that morning malfunctioned. Hard.
They were a pair of these cute little bikini's that tied at the side. As I was riding up the elevator with a stranger, one of the sides of the panties came untied. I tried to ignore it, but as I stepped off the elevator, those bastards fell down to my ankles. I didn't even try to play it off, I just cracked up laughing. I ended up emailing Urka about it, because I thought it might at least make her smile.
When the service was over, we all filed past Urka to hug her, to give our sympathies, to pay our respects. As I walked up to her, I put my arms around her, hugged her, and told her I loved her. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said "Thank you for sending me that panty story today, Sal. I really needed that."
My eyes burned with tears, and I hugged her tighter before walking away.
She took some time off work, but by most people's standards, not enough. I think she was gone about three weeks or so. Of course people always talk. Anytime I'd hear anyone alluding to her heartlessness in the matter, I would speak up for her. Mostly to ask that particular judgemental asshole if they'd ever lost the love of their life. Usually this shut the offending pie hole, and conversation resumed.
When she came back to work, people crowded around her, asking her if she was okay. Telling her how sorry they were. I never said those words to her.
Instead, I resumed with leaving notes on her desk, taking every opportunity to tell her she was short, etc.
I stepped it up, so instead of being sad, she would be distracted by my retardery. Sometimes I'd wrap things on her desk, like her stapler, her scissors, her pencils. Sometimes I'd buy gift bags and put her purse, her bottle of water, or a wad of toilet paper inside.
Somedays she'd be extra bitchy, and say some shitty stuff. On those days, I'd go directly to the vending machine, buy a package of peanuts, and leave them on her desk with a note that said "Love, Sal". This would crack her up, because I knew she was allergic to peanuts, and they made her swell up like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
When we talked yesterday, she reminded me of some of the crazier things I'd done at work.
Once, I taped a fake rat to our supervisor's phone, then called her. I stood up at my desk, looked at her and said "OH MY GOD! There's a rat in your hand!" She screamed and ran.
I hid under my friend Micki's desk for about ten minutes (it felt like ten days) with this big spider (about two feet) and as soon as she got back from lunch, I took one of the spiders hairy legs and rubbed it against hers. She kept talking to the person next to her. I knew I'd have to go for something a little more spectacular, so I growled, and threw the spider at her. She screamed. Loud.
Our phone calls were monitored (for quality and all that bullshit), and we'd have to listen to our phone calls with the quality department. What I didn't realize is that even when you're on hold with a different department, the call is still recorded. I realized this while hearing myself sing the hold music. Toto's 'Africa'. Not one of my finer moments.
Our type of work was mostly women, so when four guys were hired for my department, I made the offhand comment that "it's turning into a hotdog cart around here."
A few hours later, my boss shoots me an email, asking me what department I worked in. I was pretty puzzled, so I sent her an email back saying "web"?
She replied "I thought you worked in the hotdog cart."
I had to train an older lady and while we were sitting at her desk, I saw a pencil drawing of a man. I asked her "Is that Tom Hanks from Castaway?" It was Jesus.
I once made an older gentleman laugh so hard he turned purple. He was telling me some of the stories about being in the service. I nonchalantly asked him "Did the drill sargeants ever tell you to shut your cum dumpster?"
At our company's convention, I got to work on the bus crew, and we had to wear these reflective vests. Everyone else bitched about them, but when our media department came to take pictures of us, guess who struck a pose? Yep, me.
Despite all this, I was pretty well liked by my fellow employees. Even the older people. I always thought they might find me a bit offensive, but the reverse was true. Most of them genuinely liked me.
Seeing Urka was a much-needed ego boost yesterday.
I can say a lot of things about the way I've lived my life, but one of the things that has always amazed me is that people remember me.
Maybe it's the way I managed to run out of gas about six times one summer, the way I drove off with the gas nozzle still in my car. Maybe it's the way I turned my shred bin into a back barrel.
Maybe it's none of that.
All I know is that I've had some good times, and seeing Urka reminded me of that. And that makes me happy.
"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."