Today at work it drew near quitting time, and I went into my usual routine of dressing for the ride home. One of the RNs sat quietly and watched me put on first my Joe Rocket overpants, then my boots, then my jacket. She's seen me ride for years now, knows I always have a pair of leather gloves and the full-face helmet, too. Today she asked what's apparently been bothering her for a while: "Irrelephant, how far away do you live?"
I finished lacing one boot and said "Four miles," smiling, knowing where this was going. I finished lacing the other as she asked her second question.
"So why do you wear all that stuff?"
I slipped my pants cuffs over my boots, stood up and showed her the pale, unscarred skin on the bottoms of my forearms, my unscarred elbows. Then I reminded her that if it weren't for all this gear (here I gestured at the jacket on the back of my chair and my black nylon pants with the huge lumps of armour at thigh and knees) I'd still be healing from the wreck I had on Black Betty back at the end of October. The wreck that I walked away from with one tiny scratch where a rock got through a thin part of the pants.
Is it that difficult to understand?
I've been called a lot of interesting names in the past, some of which I could even repeat here if I desired to. I've been given epithets that fit and those that don't, by people who know me intimately and by people who couldn't pick me out of a crowd of Asians. I got called something I've never been called, today.
One of our marketers likes to call me up for spelling corrections. She knows I'm a stickler for proper grammar and pronunciation and that I know how to spell words with more than five letters in. Her first words were an apology for bothering me, which I brushed off. She knows full well I don't mind. She asked me how to spell "occasionally," and after I told her she thanked me and then said "Irrelephant, you're the gooderest!"
Of all the mangling and maligning that my mother tongue takes at work I believe I can accept that one with an open heart.
I went to work this morning with a smear of chicken shite down one forearm, on the back where I couldn't see it. No-one pointed it out to me, I only noticed it when dry, flaky bits of it fell on my slacks and I realised what it was--I'd apparently brushed up against the roost this morning while gathering eggs. How I never noticed it is beyond me, but there it is. It made me think, however, about food and food production, and my place in the food chain.
I fully feel there is at least one thing you need to do, both for you AND for your kids if you have them, especially before they are too old: take them to a farm. A real, honest to goodness farm, the kind that you can smell before you actually see it. Let your kids put their hands into a chicken's nest, better yet underneath a broody chicken. Hell, YOU go and do it, too. Learn about it. Watch them for a while. Watch them walk and cluck and go about their day. Go to that nest and put your hand under that chicken and pull out a perfect egg, almost hot from resting under that patient hen's breast. Realise, and let your kids realise that food doesn't all come in tins from the grocery store. Nothing quite makes an impression like having a warm feathered body try to settle itself back over your hand, as though it were fully intending to set it there until it hatches.
Day before yesterday at work a coworker stepped out to smoke. To "take a breathing treatment" as she calls it. Aaaah, medical humour. The window was open, and a waft of tobacco came in. Sweaty Fat Rolls made some childish gagging noises, stirring up more drama. I guess I took a deep breath in (wishing I still smoked cigarettes so I could step out to join the RN) and SFR took the moment to say "Why Irrelephant, YOU don't smoke!"
I looked at her, boys and girls, and I barked "You think you KNOW ME?"
I make a concerted effort not to bring my personal life into my workplace, especially not with the Drama Queen sitting ten feet from me. I know more about her sexual habits, her family, her disease-ridden children, their religion, their gambling, their child-abuse attempts at discipline, et cetera ad nauseum than I could ever possibly want to know. She simply cannot stop talking about herself and hers, and it repulses me. I take it as simply one more reason not to fuel her fire by giving up anything about myself and mine. When she spoke up I was so angry I could have slapped her. How dare she think she knows squat about me?
One more reason to work from home. Phase Three of the interview process passed today. I should know next week.