Blog 883 – 01.23.2018
The Finger Stories (Part Two)
My last office job before beginning my life as a Contract Inspector was as a Quality Manager, Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager for a mid-sized oil and gas equipment fabrication company in Houston, Texas. It was by far the most curious of the many and different office buildings that I had ever occupied. The gentleman who owned the company was quite a successful entrepreneur and had his own ideas about how an office should run. The end of the building my office was in had five offices and a conference room all with glass walls and no doors. Absolutely no privacy, at any time, no way. You could not make an unobserved or unheard call or council an employee without at least four others observing and listening. You could not even pick your nose in private.
From my office I could see the Purchasing Manager on my left, just across the hall from him the Purchasing Assistant. Just to her left and right in front of me was the Expeditor’s office. And behind those two a small conference room and the Operation Manager’s office respectively. There was just off to the left, (looking in) on the conference room a large closet with a real door where files were kept. I mention this because curiously I observed that the voluptuous and attractive Latina Purchasing Assistant would disappear into this private space several times a day for more that a few minutes. I was curious and asked one of the ladies who worked at the other end of the office building what this was all about and she said the pretty and mysterious lady had a new baby boy and to continue breast feeding him after she came back to work after having him she had to periodically express milk into bottles then refrigerate them to be warmed for him on demand. I teased mommy later when I got to know her better that being breast fed myself as a baby and a long time breast fan that I would have loved to have seen that. She smiled knowingly, no sexual harassment intended nor felt just a healthy admiration on my part and a certain pride on hers in her mothering devotion and excellent equipment. I am glad she had found a private space for fulfilling her mothering chores.
She also had a lovely little daughter that I saw and her baby on those several occasions when one or the other was sick and could not go to the sitter’s or school or when the little girl’s school was closed for holidays, teacher training days, or weather concerns. The owner of the company and the lady’s boss, across the hall, a Purchasing Manager by day and the pastor of a Baptist Church by night and on weekends, made accommodations for her child care needs allowing her to keep them with her in her office when she needed to. The baby was a happy baby and why not with all that sweet mama’s milk to drink and the little girl was content most of the time to color and play with her dolls.
Once when the Purchasing Manager was out in the shop I notice the the little girl looked up at her mom girl smiling and shot her a bird. There are so many expressions for this particular hand sign. I ask the mother if her daughter was mad at her and she smiled and said no that in their home that sign meant, “I love you.” I can only imagine how it came to be interpreted thus but I immediately thought of a little prank that she and I could pull on her Baptist Pastor boss when he got back into the office. I waited till he was on a phone call but clearly observing the both of us and with a stern look on my face I extended my middle finger looking right at his assistant and on cue she returned my scowl and hand sign with a flurry. The PM ended his call abruptly and hurried into my office, “Are you two angry at one another? he asked.
“No, I was just telling her I love her and she was returning the sentiment. It’s a long story let me tell it to you.” And I did but I doubt if he ever shared that one with his congregation. Hand gestures like words thought to be harsh and unkind often are not. Before you get mad or get your feelings hurt, take a moment to ask, “What did you mean by that?” You might be pleasantly surprised, as I might have been looking for a file in the file room. It never happened, I mean except for those thousand or so times in my imagination.
Your friend and fellow traveler,