Friday, September 20, 2013

Conversating with Marco

“What, am I supposed to buy you something?” Marco said, loud enough for everyone to hear. “No!” Amy responded, no longer whispering. “Then what are you telling me for?” Marco continued, as he pulled out another staple. Amy let out a ragged, exasperated breath and said, “I’m conversating with you!”

Marco was as tall and dark and handsome as it was possible for a mortal to be. He had been in the military and gave off the kind of masculine energy that makes women want to put on heels and bake just to restore balance to the universe. The fun thing about Marco was that, if you did put on heels and bake he’d say, “Why are you wearing heels just to bake?” Followed by, “I’ve never seen you bake before. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

I would be very interested to see the person who eventually gets Marco’s attention, because I’ve never seen a man so completely immune to the usual tactics. Aside from Amy, there was Vivian, who only lost interest when Marco berated her after she said she didn’t intend to train her new puppy. Then there was Cassie, who was so gorgeous I wanted to take her out. Cassie managed a few friendly conversations with Marco, but then nothing. Marco’s disinterest baffled everybody, especially Cassie. Then there was Kimberly, who actually worried me when she managed to get the station next to Marco’s. I swear the girl barely breathed, so focused was she on watching Marco out of the corner of her eye. She never got much more than pleasantries. The man was particular.

Marco once asked me, point blank and out of the blue, how I knew that my husband was the guy I was going to marry. I told him about how, when my now husband came to my house for our first date, I had reacted to the sight of him when I opened the door. I had felt this wave of happy familiarity, as though he were a very old friend that I hadn’t seen in years, and hadn’t realized how much I missed until that moment. Marco listened carefully and then said, “Thank you for telling me that.”

Marco was one of the original staple people. He looked like he should have been in charge of something serious and important. He looked like that man you want to see step out of a crowd when something frightening has happened. He looked like someone you could trust and follow. What he was was a young man who had returned home from a stint in the military and taken a job pulling out staples because he honestly didn’t want to do anything more challenging than that.

When I first got to know him, it bothered me to no end that he didn’t have a better job. Every time I heard of something better I thought he could do, I mentioned it to him. After three or four “no thanks” responses, I slowly started to put together that he really just needed to pull out staples, at least for now.

There was often a lot of drama in the staple pit, but Marco wanted none of it. The only time I ever saw him get a little upset was when we had just started prepping a new set of files. There was some subset of each file that needed to be treated with particular care. A couple of complete rubes from another division were having a conversation in the staple pit about how to make sure the staple people didn’t accidentally mix the subset in with the wrong stuff. “We could have them just staple these sections as they go…” one said.

When the other rube did not say, “That’s a TERRIBLE idea. These people spend the entire day TAKING OUT STAPLES!” Marco got a bit agitated. He spun around from his station to face the rubes, leaned forward and said, “ARE YOU KIDDING?” If I haven’t already made it clear, Marco was an imposing and impressive figure. The rubes decided, wisely, to figure something else out.

In spite of his disposition, Marco wasn’t always so serious. Once, as he walked back into the staple pit after lunch, someone commented on his demeanor, “Why so serious Marco? Relax already.” 

“I just ate lunch,” Marco responded. “You don’t want me to relax.”

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