Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bob and Larry - Rewind

So the last episode of Bob and Larry was pretty... weak. I think the problem was that Bob is just not very interesting without Larry. I was trying to create a situation where they could get together again, but it never materialized, and before I knew it Bob's house was being destroyed by a tornado. So NOT the direction I was aiming. So just forget it ever happened. Here we go again. Perhaps a bit from Larry's perspective this time?

Larry got to the office precisely thirty minutes early, as usual. He parked in the same parking spot, third to last in the row next to the spindly weeping willow tree. He sat in his car with eyes closed for a moment, listening to the ticking of the engine and breathing deeply. A broad smile spread across his face and his shoulders relaxed.

"Time to face the day Larry!" He said, and opened the door and stepped out, stretching his legs and back muscles after the long commute. Reaching back in he popped the trunk and then locked and closed the door. Walking around to the back of the car he pulled his backpack and a red six-pack cooler from the trunk. He placed the backpack carefully on his back, even adjusting and buckling the waist strap before picking up the cooler and setting off towards the building. As he passed the weeping willow, he reached out his free hand and slapped the rough bark affectionately.

"Good Morning Old Man Willow!" he said, smiling up into the drooping branches. "Keep a good watch on my car, as usual!" Larry saw the bemused stares of other employees in the parking lot and waved cheerily. When he reached the door he waved his id card in front of the reader which beeped green, unlatching the lock. He pulled the door open with one finger and stepped inside.
"Good Morning Larry!" the receptionist said. Larry stood just inside the door for a moment to allow his eyes to adjust to the dim lobby after the bright morning sunshine.
"The lovely lady Lana!" he responded with a wide grin. "And how are those kitties doing today?" He asked as he walked across the floor to the reception desk. Lana's face flushed with happiness as she began gushing on about the latest additions to her collection of cats. Larry listened intently, asking questions and making appropriate noises to express his utter love of all things feline until Lana had to answer the phone. "Give them all a hug for me!" he mouthed to her as he walked away and she winked and nodded back.
Past the reception desk the cubicle farm began. Larry's cube was two-thirds of the way back, on the side opposite the windows. He could see outside only if he stood up and craned his neck around the support pillar, but he was fond of bragging about his "cube with a view" to anyone who cared to listen.
As he worked his way through the cube farm, he waved and greeted everyone warmly. Some responded in kind, others seemed to merely tolerate his cheerfulness, but nobody seemed to be seriously annoyed. When he got to his cube, he reached down and typed his login information with one hand, before even setting anything down. It took upwards of five minutes for the cranky old box to perform it's login routine, and Larry went about the business of starting his day while he waited for it. The cooler was placed precisely beneath the desk next to the laptop bag that he never used to take his computer home in. Next to the lunch box went the backpack. Being summertime, there was no jacket to hang on the hook just outside the cubicle but even so, Larry reached one hand out to caress the brass hook as he walked past on his way to the break area for coffee.
More cheerful greetings and brief conversations with those he met on his way and then at the exact moment that the hourglass next to his mouse pointer disappeared, Larry sat down at his desk and placed his steaming cup of coffee on the coaster just to the right of his mousepad. He had just opened his e-mail program when his eye caught the motion of the office door opening. He glanced up and the smile on his face froze for a second as he recognized the person who had just arrived at the office. Larry bowed his head over his keyboard for a moment, and took a couple of deep breaths. His lips moved silently for a moment, and then when he raised his head the genuinely friendly smile had returned and he stood and walked out of the cube, striding purposefully towards the man he had just seen entering the office.
"Good Morning Bob!" Larry's friendly voice rang out across the cubicle dividers. Bob's face reddened almost imperceptibly and his pace quickened. Larry caught up to him just as he arrived at the doorway to an office looking out over the cubicle area. Bob had his key out but Larry stepped in front of him and started talking about the hockey game. Bob stared blankly at a spot three feet behind Larry's chest while Larry prattled on, eventually asking Bob if he wanted him to get some tickets for the next game. The occupants of the nearby cubes watched eagerly, wondering what, if anything Bob would say. Bob never said anything to anyone except the Director. Occasionally someone would get an e-mail from him, but as yet, nobody had any idea what his voice sounded like. After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, Bob gestured towards his door with the key, ending the impasse. Larry stepped back so that Bob could open his office.
"Yeah, you're right Bob, back to the ole' grindstone! Have a great day!" Larry said and aimed a friendly slap at Bob's back. Bob sidestepped the hand and slipped through the door into his office and slammed the door.
Larry stood there for a few seconds, the friendly smile still on his face but looking somehow strained and out of place. Then, turning Larry walked quietly back to his cubicle and sat down in front of his computer. Once again, he bowed his head over his keyboard and breathed deeply for a few seconds while his lips moved silently. Then, with a small shake of his head he straightened up and reached for his coffee.

© 2009 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Monday, July 6, 2009

What I Learned from Summer Vacation

1. Four out of Five airsickness bags on any given airplane will have been sealed shut by previous thoughtful travelers using wads of chewed gum.

1a. This fact is most commonly discovered when your three-year-old is holding a mouthful of puke and turning purple while you frantically search for that one unsealed airsickness bag.


2. Bring your own headphones. The ones the airline sells for a dollar aren't worth that much.

2a. Cramming seven sets of cheap airline headphones in your pocket ensures that you will have something to occupy you for at least an hour when your kids want to listen to the movie on the next flight. Rat's nest doesn't begin to describe that mess.

3. Used Car salesmen are slick. Lawyers are slick. Politicians are slick. Rental car agents selling the extra insurance make them all pale in comparison. Seriously.

4. No matter what GPS and Google might say about travel time, when traveling with five children, double it. Then add two more hours. And bring a change of clothes. For everyone.

5. When debating whether to stop at the rest stop or not. Stop. Always. No matter how peacefully the baby is sleeping. The alternative is a seven year old peeing into the ditch while eighteen wheelers blow past at eighty miles an hour.

5a. Or a soda bottle in the back seat.

6. What happens in Vegas... is that WAY too many people really believe that just being in city limits entitles them to entirely turn their brains off and act like utter and complete animals. Then, with no sense of human intelligence whatsoever, they pack themselves into smoke filled caverns filled with mesmerizing money extracting devices and sit in place for hours consuming alcoholic beverages. This is called "fun".

6a. Also, in Vegas, "family friendly" means that the go-go girls are wearing tops.

7. There is a reason that hotel rooms at Casinos are so cheap. Because the only thing included in the price is the actual bed. Everything else, including the keycard to get in the room is extra. Kinda brings a certain clarity to those Holiday Inn Express commercials.

8. Paying $90 dollars to check luggage is mildly painful. Trying to carry-on that same amount of luggage in a pitiful attempt to knock it down to $30 is almost life-threatening. Don't do it. Grumble at the airlines for charging you, yell at the ticket counter people, but then pay the money and don't try to put yourself, five kids and twelve bags through the security screening. I am pretty sure the airline already had this figured out before they decided to start charging you for checked bags.

8a. The feeling in your hands returns after a few days. I don't think the damage is permanent. (I hope...)

9. Your perfectly calm, perfectly house-trained dog will go nuts while you are on vacation. If you tell the pet-sitters to put her in the garage to prevent any more "accidents" on the rugs upstairs, she will proceed to destroy the cat door trying to get back in the house.

(Remember when you thought it was cute that she stuck her head through the cat door when you shut her in the garage? Never thought she actually believed she could fit through that door did you?)

9a. Also, if you close all the bedroom doors, you only have to clean up the stains on the hallway carpet instead of every single floor of every single bedroom. Lonely dogs are VERY thorough.

10. Vacation is not really a break from stress. It is just trading the everday stress of life for an altogether new and surprising kind of stress. It is living out of a suitcase, having no set schedule for eating or sleeping, spending money because you have no choice, or because you don't have time to think about it. It is trying your best to visit all of the places, people and things you don't have time for during normal life, and failing to do half of what you planned. It is exhausting, exhilirating, frustrating, exciting, confusing, and most of all expensive. But when you finally pull into the driveway after it is over, you finally understand what vacation is all about:

Reminding you how great your everyday mundane life is, and how much you are excited to return to it.

10a. But that still doesn't mean I want to take another one for at least five years. At least not until all of the kids are old enough to drag their own carry-on luggage through security.
Article and Image © 2009 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved