I had two situations happen to me this week, on the same day, that both left me speechless. Not that that fact in itself is earth shattering, given how quiet I am in general, but there was some sort of strange human etiquette puzzle piece that seemed lacking for me in order to know how to respond. That or wit.
I sat on the reference desk as a regular from out of town came in bright and early to view microfilms. We have an part time professor using our only microfilm so this man has to leave his ID with us in order to use the machines downstairs. I’ve spoken to him a couple of times in the last week or so, pleasantries and apologies for our uncooperative microfilm viewer and situation. This day though, the search room empty, when he gathers his boxes of microfilms and then walks to the desk to hand me his ID he says out of the blue, “What’s sad is that my best friend’s mother died yesterday.”
My eyes popped open and I murmured a slight, “Oh no…”
“She helped me through the death of my aunt four months ago, held my hand…” More murmuring from me. “And now I can’t even go to her funeral.”
I say, “I’m sorry” and he just shrugs as he bends toward the table to pick up the boxes and walks out. What compelled him to say that…I haven’t a clue.
Later in the day, as I was working in the back listening to my podcast, a heard a rustle and a flash of black behind me. I gave a little gasp and jumped as I pulled one headphone out my right ear.
“..but I scared you anyhow didn’t I?” said one of the people that works as the IT for the library. Rain or shine, this man always wears the same black leather outfit and slicked back hair. He drives a car that is too small for me. He unnerves me somehow.
I sheepishly coughed out a laugh. The man raced to the other side of the processing room, briefly stood in front of the computer, and as he raced off, “Cushy little job you have back here in hell, eh?” I couldn’t respond in time.
Not that I actually had anything as a reply. Because my first thoughts were, ‘Was that supposed to be a masked show of solidarity or a slight?’ quickly followed by ‘…Alliteration use makes me feel warm and fuzzy.’