The day at work was typical, although I knew something birthday-like would go down — it always did. When would it happen? How? It was after lunch when I realized no one had sung the traditional song yet, or brought up the subject at all (they were building up for the big one, I thought). I hate that feeling. The waiting. Pretending you forgot it was your birthday so you can act “surprised” when someone tells you. Blah.
Anyway, it was after lunch when she came into my office kinda nervous and excited saying, “You’ve got to go up into the front office!” I did what I could to act unknowing, like, “For what?” I asked. Smart, eh? She replied, “Just do it. Go now!”
So I did. I strolled off thinking, all right, all right, no big deal, I’ll just act surprised… in reaching for the door knob my anticipation peaked. And on opening the door my heart sank and my throat swelled. I froze momentarily, staring. I was taken back by the unexpected; a very small man stood in front of the receptionist’s desk. He was barely taller than the desktop. He’d come to pick up something and courier it away. He’d come to do his job. His JOB.I tried not to look at him and gazed around as if searching for someone. My mind was racing. He knew what was going on, I thought. He’d faced it all his life — the stares, comments, snickering, jokes, pokes. And here I stood, just another faceless observer. A fool. Yet, I’d like to think that under “normal” circumstances I would have reacted differently. Maybe with some tact.
Bullshit. I was thrown headlong into a situation I was unprepared for. I went back to my office, stunned and mad and there she was, waiting for me to say, “Man, that guy was small! Can you believe that?” Instead I tried to ignore her.
“Isn’t it sad? God…” she said. I looked at her drooping eyes, her viewpoint, and thought yeah, how sad.
Later that day, the cake had no taste. Happy Birthday.
I wrote that a couple days after it happened, 28 years ago. I was 23, so the writing is a little, "young." Strange day.