While Elsbeth, my leader, was lost attending a tile trade show in Las Vegas earlier this week, I was left behind overseeing the troops in my low-key, conflict-free, hands-off, don’t-give-a-crap-unless-I-really-must-take-action style because:
a) This stupid thing you’re doing could lead to bodily harm – mine or yours.
b) This stupid thing you’re doing could lead to a lawsuit and since I’m a lot older than you and far less employable, I need this gig so don’t screw it up for the rest of us.
On Monday, Ling, Greg and I shared the following exchange while I observed The Quiet Man’s empty desk:
Me: Is The Quiet Man here?
Ling: No, not yet.
Me: Did he call out sick?
Ling: He didn’t call me.
Greg: He didn’t call me.
Me (looking at my unlit voicemail sign): He didn’t call me.
Greg: What do we do?
I pondered this question short and soft:
Me: Nothing. Maybe he’ll show up tomorrow.
He did. When Greg asked me why The Quiet Man was not in on Monday, I said:
Me: I don’t know. If you’re that curious, ask him.
Greg didn’t. I reasoned that if The Quiet Man had a sore throat, or was pleasuring himself with a live chicken, or if it was some combination of the two, it was off site and none of our business.
Possibly to celebrate the advent of The Quiet Man returning to The Snoring Room, or Elsbeth gifting Greg with a tile she loathed so much she ordered him to remove it from the premises any way he wanted to — just do so immediately:
Or, possibly because after unpacking a delivery of seventy-six boxes of sample tile, the last box he encountered was this one containing contents true to its label:
Greg informed me that he wanted to try Pharma Kava, an over-the-counter elixir available at Whole Foods for $12.
Greg is a musician, and always willing to do whatever it takes to enhance his creativity, so tranquility in a bottle seemed right up his alley or at least ready to conquer his central nervous system. I said:
Me: Go ahead. Report back to me about it.
If it had been our young video gamer Under Ling who mentioned wanting to indulge herself with this same potion to me, my response would have been a tad different:
Me: Are you insane? This is not the place where we need you to go slack and pee yourself. Do it, but do it on our own time and off site, okay? Make sure that your mom, the nurse, is on standby, too.
Yes, I have double standards when it comes to musicians pushing thirty versus gamers barely into their twenties. Fortunately, when Greg showed his Pharma Kava to Under Ling, she recoiled.
The kava kava portion is grown chemical-free in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. The rest of it is 83-93 proof alcohol. A few drops on the tongue later, Greg’s mouth went momentarily numb. Over the course of the next two hours my sidekick was labeling tile as if he was lying in a hammock nestled between two palm trees in Vanuatu. Although I personally prefer my usual state of stress, fatigue, and anxiety, I did hear this intriguing sound playing every time I walked past Greg:
Since I have taken the day off today and Elsbeth is not in, before leaving Thursday night, I told Greg:
Me: Okay, you’re in charge of what goes on here in my absence. Do things the way I do them – as little as possible and at a distance.
Greg smiled, thrilled.
Me (walking out the door): But that doesn’t mean you can spike our water cooler with that stuff. Just spike management’s.