I Will Follow

Let that day be declared lost on which we have not danced.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

There’s this game I used to play with the kids when they were little.

And gullible.

We’d be in some random department or grocery store and I’d tell one of them to come with me. Maybe the wife had asked me to go for something she’d forgotten on the other side of the store, or I’d just grown bored and decided to wander around.

Husbands do that.

So I’d grab the kid’s hand or they’d fall in line behind me, and we’d take off through the aisles. I’d start out taking a fairly straight route and they’d keep up while chatting away or browsing the shelves.

And then I’d take an unexpected turn.

Say at the rack with the men’s swimwear, or the deli case with all the cheese. I’d wind around a bit, sometimes circle back, and then head off in another direction. I’d pretend I was lost – if they asked – or simply press on if they weren’t playing really close attention.

The best place to do this, by the way, is any clothing department. So many cool displays arranged in no discernable configuration. I’d do figure-eights and loop-the-loops and zigzags aplenty.

And eventually they’d catch on. The game was afoot. And we’d laugh our fool heads off.

I think my partner at work played this game with his kids as well.

Let’s call him Bob.

Bob is a hoot. He’s been with the company for over twenty years, and he’s done it all. And now, much to his obvious chagrin, his job, as of last Monday, entails among other things the arduous task of showing the new kid around. Showing him the ropes. Where they dangle, and where to tie them off.

Physically, he’s a slightly less-hippie version of comedian Mike Warnke and Captain Lou Albano . . .

. . . without the rubber bands and incredibly tacky vest. You get the picture.

People say that there are no stupid questions. Bob might beg to differ after a week of working with me. Being the kind of person who strives to understand the complexities residing in the simplest of things, I tend to ask for elaborations a lot. And when you’ve been doing what he’s training me to do for as long as he has, elaborating looks a lot like wasted time. But he grins as he shakes his head and proceeds to explain it to me again. He waves his arms about and points at stuff he’s already pointed at a few dozen times and repeats himself a little bit louder. He possesses a unique brand of patience.

And I’m finally starting to get it.

But the thing I like most about Bob is his determined stride. Unlike me, he knows where he’s going. And he gets there by wielding equal parts competence, confidence and efficiency. So he threw me for a loop the other day while on our way from Point A to Point B. Our task was to go to this one particular area of the building and do this one particular thing. Or so I thought.

You know the saying about how the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? More or less? Accordingly, I figured our path would look something like this:

Instead, Bob and I did this:

Holy Crap! about covers my thought process as I followed him around. At points along our circuitous journey, I’m fairly certain he had a mission. Or several. So I stuck to him like the proverbial white on rice. I looked at whatever he looked at. Said Hi! to whoever he said Hi! to. And then somewhere along the backside of the Slightly Bigger Machine, I began to wonder if there was a game afoot. I glanced at a whiteboard along one wall. April 2nd, so this can’t be a practical joke, I reasoned. And yet there we were, appearing to be wandering aimlessly through the aisles.

And I smiled.

Though I couldn’t see his face, I’m pretty sure he was smiling also . . .

[Top Flickr photo is by cogdogblog and is protected]

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6 thoughts on “I Will Follow

  1. As an engineer who works on the machines you mention above, I can confirm that people like your friend Bob most certainly know more than they let on, and are more than capable of messing with the new guy.

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