With apologies to e.e. cummings: M. told me not to work so hard. My co-workers told me not to work so hard. My boss told me not to work so hard. I think at one time my neighbor told me not to work so hard. It took the floor jumping up and hitting me smack in the forehead to convince me not to work so hard. So I've been not working so hard for the last couple hours and, for the first time in a long time, I feel. Something. It's a good start. Please don't worry; it was just too much caffeine and too little sleep compounded for too many weeks. I'm now trying to drive a narrative spike between myself and the temptation to telnet back into the office. In the brief time that I was on the floor, my mind conjured a memory I had thought long forgotten, which I feel strangely compelled, for no discernable reason, to share:
So, did I ever tell you that I fell in love with Wendy ? Yeah, that Wendy. The hamburger girl, that's the one. What's more, she broke my heart, let me tell you. See, I used to work in a little place somewhere in the valleys of central California called Paso Robles. You may remember that an earthquake nearly knocked it down a year or so back. Well, back before the earthquake, back before it decided to become the next Napa Valley, back before the acres of dirt became acres of grapevines, there was nearly nothing there but a Sizzler. In fact, I worked in the same building as the Sizzler. It was built in an old grain mill, or at least that's what they told us then. I found out later all of the exposed beams were actually distressed wood -- you know, somebody went around deliberately doing a crappy job of hammering bent, rusty nails into otherwise perfectly-good beams, and, voil�, instant historical site. You can imagine our interest, then, when a Wendy's opened up across town, because we were all sure that one more piece of Texas Toast and they'd be talking about us all on the news.
Well, the new Wendy's was, by Paso Robles standards, dressed to the nines, festooned with little multicolored plastic flags on a line, like you'd see at used-car lots. The place was absolutely packed. Even having waited until a week after it opened, it took us about forty-five minutes to finally get our food and find a table, and we were just about to tuck into our uniquely square-pattied fare when Wendy showed up. Yeah, that Wendy. She was dressed up in the fin de si�cle blue-and-white striped bloomers and Victorian lace cuffs, black grandma boots, a bright-red wig made of yarn, and three little freckles painted on each cheek. I was instantly smitten. She ask us something in a Victorian affectation -- presumably about the food, but that's just speculation on my part -- and when my tablemates' attention returned to their food, and eventually to me, they knew me well enough to know precisely what the look that must have been on my face meant, and nearly fell out of their chairs laughing. I think somebody upset one of the tables but I don't recall that for sure either.
So for the next week, it was Wendy's for lunch every day, and most of them Wendy was there, either working as the cashier, sweeping the floors, or buzzing around the tables asking if everything was fine, her bright-red yarn coiffure bobbing merrily. But as the new rapidly wore off the Wendy's, fewer people came in, and Wendy became less and less of a presence in the lobby, until one day she was replaced with some teeny-bopper of the same height and build, but wearing the usual Wendy's uniform, a relatively well-ordered short black hairdo, no freckles painted on each cheek, and a vaguely familiar smile.
I was unconsolable for weeks.
My advice, then, for those enamored with corporate mascots, is that it will end in tears.
It's good to talk to you all again.