It is lunchtime and Ling and I are sitting at our desks eating. My friend and colleague is having a salad while doing some work-related retouching in Photoshop. I’m stuffing myself with one of my legendarily crummy sandwiches while inhaling The New York Times Magazine online, a story written by Jon Mooallem published March 29, 2010 about if animals can be gay. Appropriately, it is titled Can Animals Be Gay? Elsbeth enters our office and stands between our two desks.
Elsbeth: Ling, can you make a sign asking customers to not touch the syrup locker? They should ask for assistance.
Ling: The what?
Me: Did you say, “The syrup locker,” Boss?
Elsbeth: Yes. The syrup locker.
Me (excited): Is that our version of The Hurt Locker? Are you going to get all Kathryn Bigelow, Elsbeth, lead us into historical greatness, be a warrior princess, set a precedent?
Elsbeth was not overly impressed with Bigelow’s award winning film. She gives me a withering glance before returning her attention to Ling.
Elsbeth: You know [thinking/emphasizing] the locker for the syrups.
Ling looks completely baffled.
Me: Now that’s a Claritin clear way of putting it.
Elsbeth (relieved): Good.
Elsbeth leaves and returns to her office. Ling and I are staring at each other like two doofuses.
Me: What the hell’s the syrup locker?
Ling: I have no fuckin’ clue. I have to see that movie.
Me: I liked it. It’s good. Hey, I’ll Google syrup locker.
I Google syrup locker, but that draws a blank. Googling each word individually draws what one would expect.
Ling resumes eating her salad and doing her retouching. I resume reading about two female birds nursing an egg together making scientists ponder if these creatures are indeed lesbian. Reading this fascinating article is the most awake I’ve been all day.
The next morning, Ling and I are sitting at our desks eating breakfast. She, a bowl of oatmeal and I, a cup of flavor-reduced vitamin fortified wood chips in skim milk. Ling’s phone rings. The caller is Stan, Elsbeth’s husband, asking Ling to make a sign for the vintage ice cream syrup dispenser we have on display. Ling hangs up the phone and pounds out the sign. We both know what that is, having played with it ourselves a few weeks earlier. The syrups are all empty. We know, we checked.