Anya’s delicate, bell-like voice has taken on a shocking jet-propelled baritone.
Anya: I’m in paperwork hell, not to mention the trade shows, and I haven’t slept much and the result is I’m telling you now Sunny’s baptism is this Sunday and –
Tata: OH SWEET JESUS! ARE WE GOING TO CHURCH?
Anya: I hate to bother you on short notice but –
Tata: Who’s minding the store?
Anya: I haven’t thought of anyone to call yet but –
Tata: I’ll do it! What time?
Anya: The store’s hours are noon to five but the ceremony is at 9:30 a.m. I know early on Sundays isn’t your thing but –
Tata: I’ll mind the store so you can have a lovely, relaxing ceremony where none of your sisters burst into flames! You’ll take lots of pictures. It’ll be wonderful. You’ll be so happy and the store will be open and I’ll gift-wrap all of downtown…
Anya: Could I ask you about one more date?
Tata: Sure. When? I’m getting my datebook…
Anya: Wednesday. Can you work Wednesday between five and seven?
Tata: Wednesday…that’s…your birthday. Damn it!
Anya: My mother wants to take us out to dinner.
Tata: Absolutely. Wednesday, it is!
Anya: But you don’t want to go to the baptism?
Tata: Start without me! You’ll have a touching ceremony while increasing the Gross National Product!
Isn’t that just like me – thinking of others? Of course it is, and I know you can barely refrain from tearing up. Fret not, my darling! I’m thinking of you, too, and by you I mean you with the contagious stomach virus everyone’s got and goes to work with. Please, my pet. Stay the hell home!
If there’s anything new in the air since the corporate revolution of the eighties it’s the diabolical directive that employees should be at work no matter what, in sickness and in health, as long as employees shall live or until their jobs are outsourced, whichever. Before this, people went to work. I distinctly recall people going to work on their own power in the sixties and seventies so this diabolical directive meant something else: the yank on the chain of a well-behaved dog by a cruel, overbearing master. In the meantime, sick time has decreased, employees are castigated for having children with normal childhood maladies while public policy makes birth control options even less palatable, and more of us work in buildings where air recirculates until eternity. Forget bird flus: if we’re going to suffer some sort of cataclysmic plague it will waft through corporate air ducts.
Sharkey was in the bar on Saturday night, at a basketball game Monday night and puked all day yesterday. While someone else’s vomiting is inherently funny unless you’re cleaning it up, I can’t help but think someone wasn’t feeling well, went out anyway and crossed his path. When Daria told me her husband Tyler came home from Atlantic City with the stomach flu I thought he might’ve gone there with it and waited to feel queasy myself. It never happened, but Daria’s still weak and asking herself what day it is. The kids have ear infections. I hope they’re not going to school and sharing their good fortune.
American companies could do themselves, their employees, society and productivity a good turn by offering Keep Your Damn Germs To Yourself days. We don’t get enough rest and we nourish ourselves with pre-packaged food glop. In January and February, when you wake up green and gluey, stay home, drink juice and suck broth through a straw – regardless of whether or not you could, at Death’s door, sit upright and stare at your jumbled quarterly report. Nobody wants to see you at your desk – at least nobody in his or her right mind. Let’s call that a basic IQ test for management trainees: candidates who want you to report for work, *then* to quarantine, aren’t mature enough to supervise real humans.
Since I seem to be well and unafflicted by bacteria and lightning strikes, I will continue hoping our corporate masters will see things my way. Until then, at least I have two dates with the basil- and verbena-scented store that works wonders on my morale.