Today was disappointing on many levels. First up: the auto body shop. They open at eight on weekdays, and close at five. I start work at seven-thirty, eight, and don't leave till five, at the earliest. This means I'll be driving around with a broken taillight till Saturday. I probably won't have the car on Sunday. I'll have to take a rental to the park. I'll be worrying about it the whole time I'm out with the powerwalk group, imagining kids using it as a skateboard jump, or maybe taking it for a joyride.
Then, my discreet solution to the klepto problem went feet-up. The minute I arrived at the office, Mike's assistant, Joy, pulled me aside. Apparently, Jim had been telling anyone who'd listen that I'd been going through his desk. "He's saying you took something of his. He's telling anyone who will listen. I thought you should know."
Unbelievable. I thanked Joy and went straight to my office. Moments later, Jim followed me in. He started in right away: had I been in his office? Had I taken his pen? What made me think I could use people's desks as my personal pencilcase? To hear him carry on, you'd have thought I was the thief.
I let him bluster for a while. It gave me time to feel around in my desk for the matching pencil, still in its natty leather box. He kept on going as I laid pen and box side by side on my blotter. Popping the latch, I let him see the pencil, and the indentation in the velvet where the pen would go. I thought he would back down, confronted with the evidence, but he didn't. He just shook his head, and said he guessed we had the same set. And then he reached for the pen. I reached quicker, and pulled it back.
"Jim," I said, speaking quietly, "what does it say on the side?"
"On the side?"
"On the side of the pen."
"The brand name? I don't know. Who cares? I don't study the sides of my pens, Howie." His face was completely red, whether with anger or embarrassment, I couldn't tell.
"It says Tempus Fugit," I told him. "That's a custom inscription. That's how I know this is my pen." Jim opened his mouth, probably to spit out another lie, but I kept talking right over him. "Now, maybe I dropped the pen somewhere, and you found it. Maybe after a while, you forgot where it came from. I'm sure you thought it was yours. But the truth is, it's mine, and I'm keeping it."
That took the wind out of his sails. I felt bad for him, but I didn't stop. I had to make sure he understood his kleptomaniac days were over.
"For future reference, there's a Lost and Found box in the first floor copy room. If you find anything valuable lying around, that's where it goes."
He shrugged. "Whatever you say. Uh, did you borrow my White-Out?"
"Your note. It said you came in to borrow some White-Out."
"Oh. Yeah. Here you go." I gave him my White-Out. I guess it helped him save face. As for the stealing problem, I have no idea where we stand with that. My lunch (salmon cakes with cabbage and American Gods) stayed in the fridge, anyway.
Back home, I made a gingerbread house, modeled after the House on the Rock. I've been feeling a lot like Alex Jordan, lately, following a course I don't fully understand, in hopes of finding something else I don't understand. I thought it would be a nice tribute, and maybe a new step in my own journey...
I had wanted the paper to form distinct brick-like patterns in the gingerbread, but after kneading, rolling, and baking, I was left with a lumpy mess. To make matters worse, the bread swelled unevenly in the oven. I went for brick, but ended up with stucco. It would have been wiser to shred the paper fine, or glaze it on afterwards.
I drizzled on lots of chocolate, and ate the whole mess with hot fudge sundae sauce. It may have been the ugliest gingerbread house in creation, but it tasted just fine. It's like my ma used to say: "It'll look much worse where it's going."
Won't we all?