Monthly Archives: August 2013

I Cried a Little at Work Yesterday

marcieIt came out of the blue Wednesday, I guess. “It” was an all-Charlotte-employees email at Red Ventures. (Even though we’re not in Charlotte.)

The subject of the email was an insanely popular employee at our cafe, Ilios. You’ll see how insanely later. Her name is Marcie, and I’d met her my first day at the company back in November 2011, when I was a contract worker with a future that extended, at the time, no further than February.

Lunchtime came – not soon enough – and I took the short stroll to Ilios, our onsite cafe. I got some sort of sandwich – even I don’t remember what kind, and I usually remember everything. Anyway I went to the register, and Marcie rang me up. I know this without trying to remember. She was smiling and upbeat. That’s because Marcie always was smiling and upbeat.

As the days piled up, we chatted as I was paying – she’d marvel that I always had exact change. It wasn’t hard – the cost always was $5. It was a real casual friendship – I didn’t even learn her name until the company trip to the Dominican Republic last December. At any rate, we chatted nearly every day. Sometimes she’d make smoothies – the mango one was the best – and she made coffee and other beverages in the morning. Always with a smile on her face.

Back to the email. It said Marcie was leaving Ilios, which was a bummer. It also said she was headed to California to pursue acting, which is ultimately cool.

My lunch-line friend is chasing a dream. Who can’t be happy about that?

Will she be a big success? Who knows? The important thing is that she’s trying. That’s half the battle right there. I’ve always thought I’d be a great singer – I’m better than a lot of the folks out there (at least the way I hear me, I am). But I’d never have the courage to chuck it all and depend on my voice for a living.

That’s why my sadness at Marcie’s leaving was overcome by my joy at seeing someone strike out on a mission.

A lot of other folks felt that way, too. A giant card went around for everyone to sign. I think there ended up being 11 more pages of well-wishes attached by the time it made it around RV. And, oh yeah, there was an envelope attached where people could give cash to support Marcie’s dream.

She got the card yesterday, at 2:30, at an event down in the cafe. We gathered near the tables while Marcie finished making coffee drinks for some late lunchers. Then someone called her over. They presented her with the cards and other wishes, then showed her that there was cake. Then they gave her a going-way present: a suitcase, red of course, stuffed with RV paraphernalia so she won’t forget us. And the cash – $717.

Marcie was overwhelmed. She’d been on the verge all day. As I’d gone through her line – even though the other one was shorter – I frowned to show her how I felt about her leaving. “No sad faces,” she laughed. She smiled, and I couldn’t help but smile and wish her good luck.

But with cake (we have cake for almost everything), cards, notes, a suitcase, and a big old wad of cash on the table, Marcie couldn’t hold it in any more. She started thanking everyone and she broke down. That’s when I broke down, too, and shed a few tears I tried not to call attention to. I got caught, of course. Not that it mattered. There weren’t many, if any, dry-eyed colleagues around. My co-worker and friend Heather expressed the only concern we have for Marcie: “I hope she’s not too nice for Hollywood.”

We have high hopes for Marcie. And much respect for someone brave enough to go for it. 

Of all people, Casey Kasem probably said it best: Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

ETA: Who knows what you’ll grab when you do … Good luck, Marcie.

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Passed By a Minivan

One of my conceits – I have many – is that I still see myself mentally as about 25. My knees usually jolt me back to reality.

Of course, it’s hard for me to say my knees really are a feeling old thing. Not when they’ve been aching off and on since I can remember. At least since I was 5 years old.

An Arthur aside: I can remember taking Aspirin – what else was there back then – for my knee pain when I was 6 years old. Now, of course, we know that children that young shouldn’t take aspirin – it can trigger Reye’s Syndrome, a potentially fatal disease. But I took more than my share to cool down my burning knees back in the day. I was lucky enough to come through unscathed – or did I?

The point is: My mental picture of Arthur doesn’t have any of the gray hair, the added girth and the lines around my eyes that for some reason show up in the mirror.

I got closer to that picture last night, though. Here’s what happened:

Karen and I decided we wanted to go see “The Way, Way Back.” We decided this last weekend when it opened: It was only playing at the Ballantyne theater. We’d never been but wanted to go. We knew you could get your movie with a side of beer or wine there, and we thought there was food, too. (Turns out we were sort of wrong about the food – you could get a hot dog, a Nathan’s hot dog, but not much else besides standard movie fare.)

Anyway, I checked Friday and it was playing at the theater that – if we wanted to, and we don’t – we could walk to from our house. It’s a brand spanking new theater, with great seats and sound and everything that a modern theater has. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – and much right with it. But it doesn’t have any romance. Not to mention beer and wine sides.

So we took off for the Ballantyne venue instead last night, which in this case necessitates a trip on the freeway around Charlotte – I-485. That’s when the SUV time machine I was driving suddenly took me far into a dystopian future. What happened was this: I got passed by a minivan.

I got passed by a minivan hauling a trailer.

I didn’t get passed because I was stuck in the slow lane behind a grandpa. I was the grandpa, driving in the slow lane (doing 70 but …). And I got passed by a minivan. A minivan hauling a trailer.

It shook me.

What’s even worse was my reaction. I didn’t speed up and leave that minivan eating my dust. I let it go, maintaining my speed, sniffing at the young whippersnapper in his daredevil minivan.

The movie was terrific, by the way.

Even though no one got blowed up. Or superpowers. Or joined an elite team of street racers. Uh-oh. I’m doing it again …



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