The good, the bad, and the good again

Heroes, housemates, and the ones we remember, this week in Table Talk.

By Salon Staff
Published December 2, 2005 6:24PM (EST)

Work Life

True Tales of the Office

David Lettvin - 06:41 pm Pacific Time - Nov 30, 2005 - #9888 of 9905

How to do this without being overly dramatic ... wait ... who am I kidding.

It was a dark and stormy night ... no wait ... it really was! It was the middle of winter in downtown Boston and I had been working late checking proofs on a manual that had to go into production the next day. When Maria, the person who normally cleaned my office, poked her head in the door at 8 pm, I told her that I'd be working for a while. I asked her about Rudy her little boy who had missed some school with a cold. She told me that he was all better. About five minutes later she knocked at the door again, handed me a cup of black coffee and wished me good luck.

I wasn't done at 11 and the last train for home, 35 miles away, left at 12:10. So I packed up the laptop, bundled up and headed out the door.

Down in the lobby I said goodnight to the security guard, Joe. Joe was from Haiti. He was tall, thin, charming and handsome. He wanted more than anything else to become a conductor on Amtrak. A couple of weeks earlier I had written a letter recommending him to them. I asked if he'd gotten a response. He shook his head sadly, "Not yet my friend."

I left him in the lobby and walked down the long corridor to the Arlington St. exit of the building. As I walked out I noticed that the snow had been shoveled but more had fallen. There were some black trashbags at the curb and they were rustling. The wind had died down so I realized it was rats. I stood still right outside the door and checked the street. I could see a couple of people back in the shadows of a nearby alleyway.

I decided that I wanted to get to the subway entrance quickly. I took three quick steps, hit a patch of ice and flipped up in the air and down, whacking my head on the sidewalk.

When I woke up, I was on a couch in the lobby and Joe was standing over me. "You okay man?" he asked. I sat up. Then lay back down dizzy. Joe called an ambulance and made sure the computer got locked back up in my office. Then he called my wife and told her not to worry.

Now that may not seem like saving a life, but Joe had followed me down the corridor and was watching from the door when I fell. He had dashed out as whoever was in the alley started moving towards me, and by himself had dragged my substantial bulk back to the lobby.

I saw him a couple of months ago. He looks good in Amtrak black.

Private Life

Bizarre Hatred of Random People, Places, and Things

Oedipa Maas - 02:36 pm Pacific Time - Nov 29, 2005 - #266 of 581

Speaking of dreadlocked, homemade tampon-wearing showerless earthchildren,

I hate trustafarians. Yeah, Old Hippy Housemate, this includes you. I hate having to be lectured on Why I Am An Evil Republican Seal-Drilling Oil-Clubbing Part Of The Problem Not The Solution, Man, because I dare buy the cheap tofu (!!!) instead of the organic, locally grown flaxseed-oil hemp-based all-profits-go-to-rainbow-making $10 stuff. I hate being made to feel morally inferior by people who are so Enlightened but somehow fail to realize that they are able to buy expensive feel-good tree-hugging recycled toilet paper because their lawyer/doctor parents sent them to a private Friends school and subsequently an Ivy League college. I hate being told about the merits of a Compost Toilet when most of the world doesn't have clean water to drink. I hate having to hear for the crapzillionth time about the summer you spent in Ghana weaving baskets in a village when there's a shitload of unglamorous ghetto causes right here in your city that don't allow you to take a 6 month holiday to Find Yourself and relieve your white girl burden while impressing people over your green tea. I hate how you don't have a TV cause it "destroys communication" but then you constantly appear at our door wanting to watch "Iron Chef" on MY dime and then make fun of us for watching "America's Next Top Model" instead. I hate that these people don't see the irony in their privileged, elite status and especially don't have the decency to have a sense of humor about that fact. And I really, really hate your shitty jam-band "music."


Private Life

Tributes: A quiet place for tears and light.

LaurenF - 12:30 pm Pacific Time - Nov 23, 2005 - #67 of 75

Dear Mom,

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite -- as a child, I loved it even more than Christmas. You were not a wonderful cook (and you would have been the first to admit this), and your tastes were so peculiar. More than one of my friends recoiled from your lentils and your tofu. But they didn't know how it really was for you -- you were allergic to dairy, and more or less averse to meat. You more than made up for this "problem," putting plenty of butter and milk in some things, for everyone else's benefit. And you always got a pumpkin pie, which you loathed. You knew I liked it.

I especially loved the energy and the spirit you brought to Thanksgiving. You dressed up like a Pilgrim one year -- you were never afraid to make a fool of yourself. Then there was the time you made fancy menus and printed them out on yellow paper with turkeys on it. You put them at each place setting and tied them with a sparkly red ribbon. I still have mine.

We always ate on your mother's china, which I love with the fiercest love, and I don't normally get attached to objects. The dinner plates are off-white with burgundy trim. The salad plates are square with a demure, blue and green pattern. Not too girly, but girly enough. Sort of like us.

We used the silver, but not every year. There wasn't always time to polish it. But the little tarnished dinner bell was a constant. It had a funny, flat-sounding ring.

I don't know if I am going to get the plates out tomorrow. I didn't get out the Christmas tree last year -- the last time we trimmed it, you were with us. It's hard to know when ritual is going to help and when it's going to snatch the breath right out of your chest.

I used to love Thanksgiving because I loved you so much. I guess I still love it, but maybe a little less than before.

Some day I'd like to have a daughter of my own. I'll ring the bell, and I'll make whatever she likes on Thanksgiving.

Salon Staff

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