What the fork.

By the time you read this, two things will have happened.

It will officially be my eight-year anniversary at work, and Barry our mail room guy will have retired.

He came by my desk singing, “The party’s over” because this was his last delivery, ever. Naturally I had to capture the moment on … not film.

Barry was MORE than the mail room guy. He was at my workplace for 25 years, and was the right-hand man of the owner of our company. He played Santa at our Christmas party every year. He hauled desks around and set up meeting rooms. He did everything, and he was immensely likeable.

He also knew all of you a little too well, because any time you ever send me anything it comes to my work address, and he’d be all, “More stuff from your readers” and kind of shake his head, like, What in THE Sam Hill is the world coming to.

“And none of these people have ever met you, right?” he’d ask as he set another huge box on my desk.

Anyway, we all knew Barry’s retirement was on the horizon. April 30 would be his last day, followed by his retirement lunch May 1. On that last day when I snapped this picture, I forwarded it to a bunch of people at work. “Oh, that reminds me,” the head of my team, the head of THE CREATIVES, wrote back.

It always kills me that they call us THE CREATIVES.

“I won’t be able to give Barry his gift from THE CREATIVES,” he wrote me. “Can you present it to him, instead?”

Coincidentally, the guy who is the head of

THE

CREATIVES

started work the first day I did: May 2, 2011. We nervously oriented together, and sat in the same area once they gave us desks. I’ve always felt a bit of a kinship with him as a result, and said of course I’d present the gift to Barry at his retirement party.

I’m not really afraid to speak to crowds, especially the crowd at work, because I know all of them, and they all adore me.

[This may or may not be true. It is what I tell myself whenever I have to speak before all of them, so give me my illusion, will you?]

In my mind, which is a place no one should ever be, I was just going to kind of walk over to him at the lunch and place it in front of him and people would half listen while I gave him the gift. It would all be very low key.

On May 1—the birthday of Barry Gibb’s dog, Barnabas, which is neither here nor there but I remember it every year and yet we are also lucky if I remember to put on pants. (In fact, I’d asked THREE people at work to remind me that I was to give the gift to Barry [the mail room guy, not Gibb] at the lunch “because you know how I am.”)

ON MAY 1, as I was saying before I distracted my own self, I started getting a flurry of emails about my “presentation” and got the directive that I was to stand right behind the owner of our company, a flawless woman who is immaculate and perfect and basically all the things I am not. I was to present the gift after she spoke.

“Oh dear god,” I thought, rushing to the bathroom to see what condition my condition was in.

I totally had ramen noodle hair. When you have curly hair, the exciting part is you never know what it’s gonna do. I involve myself in a million activities to make it not shocking, to look less like Albert Einstein, and yet some days, no matter how much I condition it and gel it and wrap it in a t-shirt instead of a towel and gently scrunch it and light a candle for it and start a prayer chain for it, some days it dries like noodles.

Other days it dries like an agitated horse tail. And some days I’m all, welcome to my dead dandelion impression.

The point is, Wednesday was ramen noodles day.

“Does anyone have that foil packet with spices in it? I’d like to sprinkle it on my noodle hair,” I said the room at large, particularly the three people who dutifully remembered to remind me I had to give the gift, like one of the Wise Men, except I was more manger straw than Wise Men.

Oh, I fussed with it and thought about it and got it as acceptable as possible. I added a little lipstick to my look, because nothing compliments a head of noodles like a pink lip.

Finally it was time for the luncheon. I managed to remember to head to the room with the gift in hand, and I got in line for food, because nothing gets between me and a free lunch.

“You dropped your fork,” said a coworker. “Oh, heck,” I said. I had the gift, my plate, a napkin and of course the serving spoon in my hands, because see above re me and a free lunch.

“Can you hand me another?”

Then it was time to stand behind the flawless leader of my company, and she gave just a lovely speech, and she and Barry hugged, and then it was my turn. I took my place in front of the hundreds of people who work at my work.

“This gift is from THE CREATIVES,” I told him. “I hope when you look at it, you remember that you brightened the days of everyone you encountered here. Not everyone has that ability, but you do.”

Everyone clapped as we hugged, and I couldn’t believe I’d managed to wear pants, and remember I was giving him a gift, and to not blurt out anything stupid, and basically pull the whole thing off.

I walked about the room after, talking to this person and that, reminiscing about Barry and his antics, and finally I went back to my desk.

And it was only there that I discovered I’d stuck a fork in my back pocket, the fork I’d dropped. My whole plan was to stick it back there while I was in line for the food and throw it away right after, but you guys

know

how

I

am.

And the fork was, you know, STICKING OUT of my back pocket, like I was prepared for any fork emergency that might come up. The tongs had oh-so-carefully lifted the back of my shirt up to reveal my delicates not one time, not two times, but three different times, each tong offering a new and exciting peek at my undergarment, which of course had a Steely Dan hole in it because that damn creature chewed a hole in everything.

And that is how I spent my last day in polite society, for I now give up and will never leave my house again.

Stick a fork in it. …Oh, I happen to have one right here.

Love,
June


56 thoughts on “What the fork.

  1. Oh lordy, was this funny!! You are the best. Thank you. Do your co-workers know how lucky they are to have you??

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  2. If I had had a co-worker like you, maybe I would not have left the workplace to babysit in my chaotic home. People where I work took everything too seriously, but babies? Not so much. I am not sure why, but I kept looking on my phone to see if you had a post the end of the week, and I just kept seeing the one before this – without list. So, I am a little late in joining the fork party. Hmm. All fixed though, because I just added your feed to my blog, so now I will know when you post something new. Yippee. This was awesome! I love your description of noodle hair. I used to have curly hair, but it got all different with hormones after having 6 kids and then having celiac disease it got crazy thin. Now I never know what I am going to get when I look in the mirror – too much scalp showing. Oh, the worst. I miss the days of not knowing what my curly hair was going to pull on me.

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  3. May 2 is my work anniversary too! I have been in this madhouse 5 years, so I celebrated by taking the day I’ve also flashed some underoos at work because I run a feed store and end up climbing in and out of the backs of pickups and crawling on top of pallets. After a while the friction of my thighs wears my jeans thin so if I wear a favorite pair of pants, it’s a guessing game as to whether or not I’ll create an inadvertent peep show. I also have a tendency towards thongs and you would be shocked how long it took me to figure out why all the guys stood behind me while I loaded stuff for them.

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  4. Dear June, what a lovely story. And Happy Work Anniversary to you. I remember when you posted that you got a new job, as you and I were unemployed at the same time- and then I also started a new job about two weeks later. So my 8th year Anniversary is coming up too (but I’m secretly looking at other jobs).

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  5. I once wore a polo shirt inside out ALL DAY at work. No one said a word. Stopped at Kroger on my way home. A man asked, “Was it inside out day at your child’s school today ?” No ! I thought, what a weirdo. After shopping, I got in the car, adjusted my rear view mirror, and caught a glimpse of my collar. Yep, inside out. Why did no one at work tell meeeee ???
    Did Barry say,
    “Thanks fork the memories ?”

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  6. Oh Joob, I feel ya, more than you know. My mother used to say I was the “pretty girl” walking down the street until I fall off the curb, into a hot dog cart taking it and the vendor down with me – leaving a puddle of water to slip in while trying to get up over and over again, turning into Lucy. I’d be grateful for a fork incident. wink.

    Welp, at least you got a laugh out loud post from it!

    Lovely post, lovely June.

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  7. GREAT story!! You know, one of the things that’s so amazing about your writing is how you make it seem so hilariously stream of consciousness, like you’re talking to a friend at lunch, but at the same time there’s this deftly-constructed backstory that leads up to the most perfect ending. It would take me days to try to write something like this, and of course it wouldn’t be a fraction as good. Barry sounds like he was a fun guy to work with. Hope he enjoys retirement!

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  8. Seriously, everyone was fiddling with their food or sitting behind one of those stupid pillars or tearing up or trying to see Barry. I didn’t see anything amiss with your garments myself. And what you said was perfect and perfectly, um, brief.

    “In my mind, which is a place no one should ever be…” —June Gardens, Queen of the Priceless Asides

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  9. I wonder if it’s a sign of depression when I actually feel sad that Barry left. I am horrible at goodbyes and would surely have been a bawling mess. Yay for you and your fork pulling it off without a hitch!

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  10. At least you didn’t have a fork in your shirt pocket. That could have gone all Janet Jackson.

    One time I wore my pants backwards at work. I couldn’t figure out why they felt so weird. BACKWARDS PANTS HOW.

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  11. I could hardly finish reading through tears of laughter. Barry will remember the grace and humor you brought to his retirement party.

    Congratulations on your eight-year anniversary. Watch for missing utensils when you celebrate today.

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  12. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’m sure your retiring coworker will remember your kind words. Please feel free to disregard the following impertinent questions: How did you know, after the fact, that your fork had caused a wardrobe malfunction three times? Did one of your coworkers count and report it to you? Did all three occur while you were on stage?

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  13. Happy Retirement Barry! It is wonderful. June, you sent him off with great memories. Thanks for the funny post this morning.

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  14. I wish I had the ability to tell stories the way you tell stories. I was hooked from the beginning to the forking end. Thanks for the laughs, Joob!

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  15. Oh I am so glad I chose to read this before jumping in the shower! I have to actually leave my house to work today. I laughed so hard at this post! ha ha still laughing as I go off to see a few sad and surly kids… I feel happy now! Thanks Jooonie

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  16. This was such a good story! It’s wardrobe malfunctions like this that make sure events are remembered for a long time.

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  17. Fork me, that was hilarious.
    It was a nice send off for someone who was honestly liked and appreciated. I hope he enjoys his well earned retirement, after delivering all those packages.
    Currently suffering from noodle hair. You have my sympathy.
    Carolina and Bettydh’s comments cracked me up.

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  18. Thanks for the laugh – it made my Thursday. Sharing my newest obsession with you: an app called My Talking Pet. Take a photo of your pet, record a message, alter the speed and tone and send a hilarious video of your pet speaking to all of your family/friends. They’re probably all currently blocking me, but it’s been worth it.

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  19. My word!! That was too funny! I stepped in a gigantic puddle walking into the office and am now sitting at my desk with wet shoes, wet socks and wet pant legs. I really appreciate your post!

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  20. Oh my stars and garters, I am laughing like a crazy person!
    Congratulations to Barry, retirement is such a great place to be.
    Tee

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  21. Lovely post. I’m just happy to know that kind of thing happens to others and not just me. Now, how are you going to top that on your anniversary tomorrow?

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  22. FORGIVE ME JUNE, FOR I HAVE LAUGHED.

    Good lord. You are a woman after my own heart. Had it been me, I would have lost that fork down the front of my shirt and only discovered it when I gave Barry his goodbye hug. Barry by the way probably could have worked for years and years if he hadn’t been worn down delivering all your packages.

    Also too, Carolina called you a 5:22am hoe. Which I didn’t think was all that nice. Or accurate.

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