Not too long ago, one of the big boss guys came into town. Completely at random. I didn't know he was coming.
I was not dressed like a hobo like usual, but it was close. The jeans I was wearing were only on their third day, and my fleece jacket covered up the wrinkles on my button down. I was even wearing jewelry.
I ran into the guy in the cafetorium (yes, I just said "cafetorium" with a straight face. Shoot me now).
Why does this remind me of the holidays?
It started out as a nagging half-memory. What was it? I searched through some of my old writing. Something... I know there was something...
After about an hour, I finally found this little unfinished piece, written at the end of 2001. I call it, "A Christmas Miracle".Let me take you back a few years. Back when I worked the night shift at the illustrious Copy Whores (the name of the business has been changed to protect... the, ah... I'll be honest. I'm not protecting anyone here. I just like saying the word "whore").
I drooled on myself at work the other night. How embarrassing. I wasn't even tired.
I was just standing there, happily and mindlessly bookletizing a manual for a client. I turned to stack some of the books in the finishing tray and felt the surprising numbness of another paper cut.
"Son of a-" I started to say when dri-i-i-p.
I was so shocked by the saliva stretching out of my mouth and the soft splattery noise that it made on the books that I didn't close my mouth or wipe my lip for a second.
I searched in my line of sight for a tissue or paper towel, and found none. I decided that my sleave would have to do.
Wait a minute..
I couldn't see my drool splashes anywhere. Maybe I had imagined it... maybe, I hoped...
I saw a spot of darkness on the front of my shurt and looked down. How long had I been drooling? Was I just standing there pouring spit out of my mouth the whole time? What's next? Peeing my pants because I forgot to hold my bladder? Passing out because I forgot to breathe?
I blotted at the dark spot on my shirt with my sleave, hoping that it hadn't soaked in yet, and managed to make the dark spot look darker and twice as large.
"Great," I said, "I look like... I look like a drooling idiot."
It's OK, I thought, It'll dry before anyone sees me. I mean, who comes into copy-whores at 3AM?
I glanced at the counter, and jumped.
There was someone there.
Swallowing to make sure I didn't drool again, I put on my best customer service smile and threaded my way through thecopiers to the front counter.
"Hi!" I said brightly, "Is there something I can help you with?"
He stared at the front of my shirt with old man eyes as I approached, saying nothing.
His eyes traveled slowly from my chest to my face, looking vague and lost. I wondered if he was senile, maybe an escapee from the retirement home down the block. It had happened before.
I was about to speak again when he said, "I heard the same Christmas music when I was in here yesterday." His voice was soft and gravelly, and virtually expresisonless.
"Yeah," I said, wondering who I should call. The police, maybe? "They have it on a two hour loop starting on October 1st. I think they are trying to drive me crazy."
His eyes sparkled for a moment, as if to say, "Driving you crazy?"
I continued rapidly, "I have a 10 hour shift so I hear the same stuff five times a night."
He nodded, looking forlorn. "Nobody writes new Christmas music anymore."
His eyes wandered back down to the drool spot on my shirt as he spoke, and I self-conciously reached my hand up to fidget with my necklace and block his view.
"So," I said, trying to change the subject. "You were here last night?"
He nodded. "You were talking to yourself."
"I-" I said, "I don't really remember. It's possible, I suppose."
He smiled, "I figured you were daydreaming." He glanced out the window as if realizing it was actually night time and maybe "daydreaming" was the wrong word.
I gave a strained chuckle "I suppose I do that, now and then," I said, "So I don't get too bored. You say you were here yesterday?" I could feel my eyebrows knitting together.
His eyes were amused, "Well, I am kind of hard to notice if you aren't looking for me."
I frowned. It was actually strange that I hadn't seen him come in. He was barrel chested, taller than me and had the whitest hair and beard I had ever seen. How exactly was this man hard to notice?
We stood in silence for a moment, studying one another.
"Well," I said, "Was there something I could help you with?"
"Nice of you to ask," he said. His voice seemed stronger with use, "But I'm fine. You can go about your business."
"OK," I said, feeling awkward. "Let me know if you need anything."
"Sure," he said, smiling.
"So," I said, not wanting to leave him just yet, "So... you come here often?"
"Every day," he said.
"And what..." I stopped. I was going to say, "And what do you do here?" because I could see he wasn't carrying anything, but maybe it was rude to ask.
We stared at eachother again, and then he pointed at my hand. "You're bleeding," he said.
I looked down. Oh yeah. The paper cut.
"Excuse me," I said, "I had better take care of this."
I backed up a few steps. He didn't move, just stood there smiling.
Finally, I said, "Bye," and turned to walk to the back room to clean up.
"Be seeing you," he called after me.
So that's it. There wasn't anything else written down. I remembered there being more to the story, but I was tired of looking. Maybe I just imagined finishing it. I know what happened though.
Dude at the counter was Santa Claus.
And he gave me what I wanted for Christmas that year.
I got RIFed (that's a the initials of "reduction in force" turned into a verb for those of you who don't speak corporateze. We don't say "laid off" in corporate land. Such negative connotations! Just like we say "nonconforming" instead of "broken" when referring to warranty parts... focus groups say it's better!).
All the joys of an unexpected extended vacation, none of the guilt of quitting!
Sure, Santa and I have had words since then (dude will NOT give me that winning lottery ticket I keep asking for, or the pet octopus), but at least I know he's real.
So anyway. Bringing this story full circle: Big Boss Man was in town. The dude actually referrs to himself as "the big dog" or "the big kahuna". For real.
He came to town and no one would tell me why.
I pinged my ex-boss in chat a few cubes away:
Me: Did you know the Big Boss was here?
Her: Oh, yeah, I was in a meeting with him.
Me: How did I not know this? No one told me I wasn't supposed to dress like a hobo this week!
Her: Sorry, I forgot.
Me: Now I keep thinking I'm getting RIFed.
Me: And then I thought, That would be awesome! So I probably won't be.
So cross your fingers, everyone, and maybe that Santa won't be a dick again this year. Let's all hope for a Christmas Miracle!