Monday, June 22, 2009

Meaningless Acts

I had half decided not to go to work today it being Monday without anything to do except to mark time. But there were a number of administrative tasks like using the copier machine for my own purposes and plunking down a few heavy envelopes in the outgoing mail tray. Call them last minute acts of meaningless sabotage, but mostly, I had an eye to saving money, and being a warm summer day, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to do some laps at the gym. I took my usual route downtown, noticing fewer cars, wondering if it’s because people have left for vacation or just left, probably both, I said to myself as I passed Patrick standing in front of Colonial Donuts and selling Street Spirit. After several years of occupying this same spot, he’s developed a group of regulars, like myself, who buy the homeless paper from him in the morning on the way to coffee. I’ve already told him that I’ve been laid-off.

“Oh, no,” he said. “They’re taking away all my customers.”

Past the sentry of Patrick is the Blue Sky Pot Club, one of many cannabis outlets in downtown Oakland, which as a city of pot clubs, is trying to fashion itself as the Amsterdam of the United States. Already, a group is gathered outside its doors waiting for the club to open. Old people, young people, some in wheelchairs, all colors, men and women. I drive around the corner and use my pass to open the security gate of the parking lot. Swiping the badge becomes a recognizable gesture, not part of an endless routine that has composed my years at this place. I’m actually starting to like the idea of leaving. It makes me feel less encrusted.

Soon I’m upstairs and discover that JL, the man who hired me, has sent an Outlook invitation for lunch. I’m not really dressed today, just jeans and a polo, but why not, although it does mess up my plans to leave the office by noon. I need to stop at the vet’s and pick up medicine for my cat’s thyroid, plus my boyfriend’s coming home today from Memphis. But I recognize that closure makes its demands. I send JL a message and accept his invitation. I’m outside his office at the appointed time of 11:45am. He’s on the phone. He’s always on the phone, or in the middle of a conference call, or talking to someone else who’s in his office. I wave to him hopefully and he gives me the “one-minute” sign. At noon, I’m still waiting outside and do what’s I’ve ben wanting to do for these past seven years: I head for the elevator and let his administrative aide know that he can call me when he’s ready.

“I’m sorry,” she tells me. “Some things don’t change.”

Back at my desk, I make no small bones about my annoyance and let everyone around me in cubicle-land hear about it. For my outgoing luncheon, I had hoped that things would be different. But really, why should they be? I’m the underdog and my co-workers are rooting for me. In five minutes I receive the message that JL’s ready.

“I’m going to make him wait for me!” I announce. I know, it’s pitiful, these small, insignificant acts of retribution. But what the heck. They make me feel better.


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