Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I work with a man named Donald who is a fascinating study of how we grow up in the environment provided us. Given a different environment than what we had, we would all probably grow up to be very different people. I've never seen Donald's parents or where he grew up but then again, I'm not sure I would want too.

Donald is different. He is forty years old, never been married and chalk full of interesting quirks. One of his more interesting tics is his loud hiccup. He will hiccup once in awhile with a single hiccup so loud that everyone in the office can hear it and then he will be silent. I often wonder if his lungs still remain in their proper places after such an incident. Another tick is that he is forever scratching his ears. One would think that this is something that you do silently in the privacy of your own office and nobody would know but not Donald. He scratched his ears like a dog so that you can hear this thwak thwak thwak sound every time his hand goes by his ear. It is loud enough that probably half the people in our office can hear him scratch which probably averages to a handful of times a day.

When if comes to food, Donald is king. People sometimes bring food to the office and leave it in the break room downstairs. Don will stop in there to check when he gets to work, at least once in the morning, right before he leaves for lunch, right after lunch, in mid afternoon and on his way home. How do I know this? Because he told me so. We consider him our early snack warning device because when he finds food, he will walk around to all our offices showing us his plate of food and letting us know that it is down in the break room. His seriousness at office food is so strong, that we will sometimes tease him when by talking about the imaginary crock-pot of little smokies or box of donuts in the break room when we know he is within hearing range. He will immediately head down to the break room to check it out only to find nothing. Which means when someone brings food in after he has checked it, we can also eat it in front of him and he won't believe that there is any in the break room believing we are pulling his leg. He will agonize over this for ten minutes or so before his stomach overrides his brain and he goes down anyway.

Not only does Donald go down to the break room often, he gets lots of food. On one memorable instance, I brought a cake that my wife had made to work. I put it on the break room table and went upstairs. Once there, I remembered I had forgot to leave the knife so I went back. There was Don just putting a slab of cake onto his plate that he had cut out with the handle of a plastic fork. That wasn't unexpected but what was unexpected was seeing that his one piece totaled 1/4th of the entire cake. Don is not bashful with food. When people bring holiday food to work, most of us browse and get a sample here and there. Don will pile a plate heaping full, unmindful that 60 or 70 other people might want to have some, and then go back several times during the day.

One day I asked him what he eats at home since I had seen him load up a heaping plateful the day before to take home after work. He says he eats frozen TV dinners on weekdays and then eats boiled chicken on weekends. I guess I couldn't blame him after that for loading up on food here.

Another tidbit that I am about to relay, I thought I had blogged about once before but can't find it so I will mention it again. Our office is attached to a factory overflowing with men who let me just say, can be unmerciful at times if they find out something embarrassing about you. One day last year, a couple of the more unmerciful ones were talking about seeing the movie 40-Year Old Virgin when Donald walked up. They asked him if he had seen the movie and his comment was no, but that he would be one the following year and then he walked off. The factory workers were speechless, something I have never ever seen since, for a full minute just looking at each other before they fell on the floor laughing. For months afterwards, that story was told over and over throughout the plant.

Donald likes to build model cars as a hobby but says he doesn't get much chance because he has too many chores to do at home. His tiny one bedroom house can't require more than ten minutes to clean from top to bottom but I am afraid to ask how come his chores take so long. He vacations only with his parents and older sister, also unmarried, and never goes out anywhere at night. The only trips he talks about making after work are to the grocery store to stock up on frozen TV dinners and to the movie theaters within a 50 mile radius. He is perhaps the most knowledgeable person I know on children's movies, which scares me quite a bit as well. He is definitely a unique individual and someday I would love to see the environment he grew up in to produce such a personality…. from a distance.

No comments: