I was sitting in the English office, staring at the computer, chin resting awkwardly in one hand when she came in with two dozen eggs. Two dozen farm eggs, collected this morning before school. “I HAVE YOUR EGGS!” She is always this enthusiastic. “WHOA! YOU DON’T LOOK SO HAPPY!” She is even this enthusiastic when she is being empathetic. She pulled out a chair and plopped right in. “WHAT’S WRONG?” Even this enthusiastic when she is asking questions.
What’s wrong? Well, nothing and everything of course. I’d been sitting at that computer, staring it down, wondering what to write for today’s slice. I usually write my slice on Mondays, but that hadn’t happened because I was distracted by a thorny issue. Okay, thorny issues, plural. Today I’d had a meeting before school, another at lunch and one more was scheduled for after school. I’ve been running like crazy, and I’ve had no time to breathe much less think. I’ve been so caught up that I haven’t even replied to the comments on my last post, haven’t even started reading today’s slices. In the moment of quiet before she came in, I’d been mulling things over and trying to sort the public from the private. I wasn’t so worried about what to write as what not to write, and what not to write had been weighing me down.
Though I hadn’t thought to seek her out, I couldn’t have asked for a better sounding board than our chief custodian. She is amazing. I swear I can tell she’s coming before she opens the door. She laughs so loudly you can hear her a hallway away. She curses freely in French. She sells us farm eggs and Epicure cooking spices. If you report a spill, a clogged toilet, graffiti, a broken window… anything, really, she will have it fixed, sometimes before you manage to tell your office mates you’ve reported it. She dressed as Super Mario for Halloween. She posts all the funny results of her goofy Facebook quizzes. Everyone in the school talks to her. I’ve threatened to put a picture from Peanuts where Lucy plays Psychiatrist – The doctor is “in” – on her door. She is a force of nature.
Five minutes after she sat down, five minutes after I just spilled all the things that I haven’t been able to talk about with others because of that whole public/private issue, five minutes after she focused the whole of herself on me, I was done. “OUAIS,” she drawled, her English peppered with French, “YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, FOR SURE.” She nodded, thoughtfully, considering her next words: “YOU ARE FRIED. GO HOME.” I told her about the meeting after school. “WELL THEN, GO HOME AFTER THAT. YOU CAN HANDLE IT.”
And you know, she wasn’t wrong. I am fried. I did need to go home. I can handle it. And now, thanks to her, I’ve written my slice, too.
She turned around as she left the office, “ALSO, YOU OWE ME EIGHT DOLLARS FOR THE EGGS. YOU CAN BRING IT TOMORROW.”