Everyday Life, Fiction

Episode 34 – White Spot

We are sitting at White Spot. I ordered a Provolone and Portobello Mushroom Veggie Burger. I’m surprised to find that Denny deviated from his usual burger and ordered grilled chicken.

I’ve trained Denny not to constantly check his phone when we are in a restaurant. I mean, how annoying is that? When there are only the two of you and you are sitting across from each other in a restaurant? But today I am breaking all the rules and Denny is not only enduring it, he is encouraging me. It probably gives him some satisfaction to see me violating my own standards.

An hour ago Denny dropped by the doctor’s office. I had an appointment for which I showed up two hours early by accident. Thankfully they had a cancelation and were able to slip me in. As I was leaving the office, there was Denny, behind me. Surprise!

Some things in life are better than flowers. One of them is your husband showing up after your doctor’s appointment, when you weren’t expecting him.

I ask Denny if he wants to go for dinner and he agrees. He knows how these appointments always take the wind out of my sails.

“So how did your doctor’s appointment go?”

I’m typing an email. I’ve only taken one bite of my sandwich, “We can’t talk about that now. We have to at least finish eating first.” I have phone beside me and my laptop out and I am logged on to the restaurant wifi.

I respond to a text. Check another email. Book an appointment. Denny is relaxed. Smiling. Just as I’m finishing my sandwich he pulls out his phone. I’ve barely looked up at him during the whole meal.

“I guess I could check my phone too,” Denny has a small grin, but he hesitates, as though he is asking for permission.

I grin back. There is something about Denny. When he commits to a course of action he’s like a moving train. He doesn’t stop or back up or turn around. He decided not to look at his phone in a restaurant and even though I’ve been typing and texting it has taken till now for him to get that if I am “working” it’s probably OK for him to check his phone.

Denny takes a second on his phone and puts it down. He picks up a straw in one hand and with the other he slides a long toothpick with a curly little decoration on it, into the straw. He looks mischievously at me and then he blows the straw, like a blowgun. With a crack, the toothpick hits the plastic dessert menu that is standing on side of the table.

“That could be dangerous.”

“But it’s fun,” Denny grins and loads another straw. Puff! Like an arrow, the toothpick shoots out of the end.

I’m reminded of Denny getting into some mischief as a teen, setting off firecrackers on Main Street in our small town and evading the cops. This looks like almost as much fun.

I slide my leftover Caesar Salad to Denny. I’m full.

One more text. One of the responsibilities of my job is overseeing rentals. I needed to have a storage room cleaned out for a new tenant and I’m trying to track down who is responsible for the contents. I think I have finally got the right person.

I read the text to Denny, “This storage room is news to me. I knew there was stuff in general in there, but it must have been from a previous regime.”

We both laugh.

It is the mention of the previous regime that makes me laugh. I am a newcomer. I recently met the director of the previous “regime.”

It was one of those instances where you feel the authority so compellingly  that you have to resist a little. I am not a rebel, by any means. The man was leading an informational meeting for new staff, since he was promoted to oversee several non-profits. At the meeting he asked us all to sign a code of conduct in which we agreed never to speak ill of any person in leadership within the organization. I leaned over and whispered to my colleague, “But he just did.”

Without a moment’s hesitation he called me out, and asked me if I had something to say.

He had just shared a story about a particular person in the organization, sort of holding him up as an example. Not naming names, of course, but all the same.

All eyes around the board table were on me. I couldn’t back down, so I told him, “You asked us not to speak negatively about leaders, but you just did.” I was pretty sure that there were staff in the room who knew very well who he was talking about. They were not all newbies like me.

I left without signing the code. I explained that I had already signed one at the office.

Denny backed me up when I told him, “Of course you don’t have to sign two codes of conduct! What’s the point of that? If you sign one at your work then that’s plenty good enough. Why would they even ask you to sign one when you already had? That department has nothing to do with you and they can’t require that of you when you’re not even working for them.”

Denny’s a good husband.

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