On Friday, I called a man ‘chief’.
I don’t know what came over me. I’m not a ‘chief‘ kind of guy. There are all sorts of characters around — especially here in New England, it seems — who are comfortable calling perfect male strangers all sorts of clever names. You’ll get a lot of ‘kid‘ in these parts, the occasional ‘brutha‘, the odd ‘sport‘ or two, the personally perplexing ‘boss‘, and yes, once in a while, ‘chief‘.
But not from me. I’m strictly a meat-and-potatoes name-caller. I stick to ‘guy‘, ‘dude‘, ‘man‘, and maybe — if I’m feeling particularly frisky — ‘buddy‘. That’s it.
Until Friday. At approximately 1:15pm on Friday afternoon, I ‘chief‘-ed a man, for the first time. I feel like I’ve stepped over a line somehow. Or maybe onto a line. Whatever it is, it’s squishing between my toes now. Not so pleasant.
“At approximately 1:15pm on Friday afternoon, I ‘chief‘-ed a man, for the first time. I feel like I’ve stepped over a line somehow.”
So how did I become a ‘chief‘-er? I’m honestly not sure. It was a lunchtime like any other around my new office. There’s a little food court nearby, and I’ve slipped into a comfortable little routine in my brief time there. I always walk over to the burrito joint — they claim to prepare ‘healthy’ fake Mexican food, and the burritos beat the pantalones off the Subway across the aisle. On the other hand, they’re not exactly fast with their ‘fast food’. I suspect the staff mostly bags off for a siesta in the early afternoon, but I can’t confirm it. The girl at the counter won’t let me past the nacho station to see for myself. Damn my obviously gringo features.
But that’s okay. The long lag in landing lunch gives me a chance to walk over to the place that sells… um… well, honestly, I don’t know what kind of food they sell. But they’ve got bottles of soda that I can cart back to the office, which the burrito joint doesn’t offer. So while my carne is being asada-ed, I hop over for a soda. The guy there recognizes me now, and sometimes even has a bottle waiting for me. It’s a good deal. I tip him an extra fifty cents every day, and he pulls me out of line as soon as he sees me, no matter how long the line is. Everybody wins.
Still. Does that make him a ‘chief? My first ‘chief‘? Good grief.
But that’s what happened on Friday. With the lunch rush over, I moseyed down for a meal — and that bottle of Pepsi. When I went for my soda, he ribbed me for being late, I told him I’d try to do better next week, and then, as though I were looking on from a nearby table, I heard myself say:
I still don’t know what compelled me to say it. He didn’t bat an eye — probably, around here, he gets ‘chief‘-ed three times an hour and double at lunchtime. But never by me — and now I wonder what’s coming next. Will I be ‘boss‘-ing people soon? Throwing ‘kid‘ around at the local watering hole? Calling the mailman ‘Sparky‘? Or ‘Scooter‘? Or ‘Sugarbuns‘?
I think maybe I should find a new soda guy. Either that, or a much hotter mail carrier. Otherwise, my name may soon be ‘mud‘.
Or ‘Loverdrawers‘. Jesus. The price I pay to get caffeine and junk mail.Permalink | 4 Comments