The Water Cooler

I met Penny in the office kitchen. Penny, a co-worker of mine, was pouring herself a cup of coffee. I saw Penny  last night at the neighborhood H.E.B. where I was picking up a few supplies for the week.

This morning, near the water cooler as I poured a cuppa joe, I kidded Penny and said, “If you had stuck around last night, I would have let you pay for my groceries.” We laughed and commented how we saw several people from the office in the grocery store last night.

Rolanda walked by and overheard the conversation. Rolanda was another  colleague that I saw at the grocery store last night. I mentioned to Rolanda that I saw her, but she was on the phone. I didn’t want to interrupt her conversation. She replied, “You could have interrupted. I didn’t want to talk to that person anyway.” The three of us laughed as Thad walks by the water cooler.

We all began to share stories about how our parents and grandparents and their attitudes about food. How they grew up in the great Depression. Even when food was plentiful (as it is for many people today), they still had a tendency to stock up due to a subconscious fear of not having enough. Penny told us how her mother would shop three different grocery stores in order to get the best deals. She also told how her mother would buy corn and freeze it because that was what they did on the dairy farm.  This led to me telling the story of  the epic battle between a 7-yo Mr. Man, Mocha Dad, and a chicken (another post for another day, I promise). This is about the time the boss walked into the kitchen.

Thad passed back by the water cooler and couldn’t help but share his own corn story. Something about mules, tough corn, and broken teeth. Which led to more stories about farms, grocery stores, and the boss telling a tale of mischievious boys and flying headless chickens. Go figure.

We all began to walk away from the water cooler. As we did, we began to slip back into our work personas. The person who is sometimes too busy to say “good morning”. The person who is adversarial for no- good reason. The person who unneccessarily chews someone out because they can. The same people who will not  smile at another person in the office because it is not “professional”.

For about 15 minutes this morning around the water cooler, everyone dropped the personas and simply became themselves. Human and real. No facades. No arrogance. All equal. Laughing, talking, and sharing with no pretenses or agendas.

It was kinda cool.

Mr. Man

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