Felicity hums. I've written quite a lot about one of the secretaries in my office, Felicity. Yes, she hums.
And it is crazy making.
But, I haven't really written much about the other Felicity. The one who you can get to know if you can get past her infernally annoying humming.
I'm just beginning to understand.
A couple of weeks ago, I forgot to bring my lunch to work. Although the hospital cafeteria has surprisingly good fare, I generally bring a carton of yogurt to work for my lunch. Maybe a piece of fruit too. I work 7-3 and I am simply not hungry until after 3 so there is little point in forcing myself to eat a big lunch at 11 when I'm just not in the mood to eat. I DO have diabetes, though, so I have to keep some carbs in my body to ward off my blood sugar plunging. Yogurt usually does the trick.
So, anyway, I forgot my lunch several days ago. I went to the cafeteria to see what I could buy that was small.
I spied a cinnamon bagel. Now, I truly love bagels with cream cheese but they are carb heavy and I can only eat about half of one if I want my blood sugar to stay steady. So, I picked one up and bought a cup of chai tea to go with it.
The cafeteria was packed, but I spied a small table with a few of my co-workers around it, so I joined them. I noticed that everyone was eating except Felicity. Kate was there with her cheese sandwich. Rossi was reading Sports Illustrated and munching on the lunch special: a bowl of turkey noodle soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Holland (one of the other secretaries whom I haven't mentioned before...so I will briefly say that she reminds me of Carol Lombard, very funny and a wisecracker and so movie star pretty that she gets away with saying the word shit every other sentence) had the fruit cup and Sandra (a willowy woman with very black skin who wears bright white sweaters and has a smile so brilliant and beautiful that she makes me sigh) gingerly ate a pop tart that she had brought from home and overheated in the microwave.
I sat down with my bagel and tea and began to smear my bagel with cream cheese. I glanced up.
"Anyone want a half of a bagel?" I asked.
Felicity spoke quickly.
"Sure!" she said. "I mean, if you don't want to save it for your dinner tonight?..."
I handed it to her. "Nope," I said. "You can't save bagels. They get hard in ten minutes."
I handed her half of my cream cheese and she stood up and got her wallet out and began counting out a nickel and a few pennies. "How much do you think they charge for jelly?" she asked.
Rossi jumped up. "I'll go steal one for you. I refuse to buy a tiny little packet of jelly," he commented.
"Get strawberry," Felicity instructed. "I only like strawberry..."
Now, Felicity is a beautifully coiffed woman. Her makeup is perfect. Her clothes are immaculate. She often wears patent leather pumps and says that she shines them with vaseline.
And so I was surprised when she dug into that half bagel like a half starved dog. She polished that sucker off in about two minutes flat. I didn't stare but I noted it.
Kate and I were the last ones to finish lunch and as we walked slowly back to the office, we chatted. I commented that Felicity must have forgotten her lunch too.
"No," Kate said slowly, "I don't think so. Felicity hardly ever brings anything and she never buys coffee or sodas. She fills her cup with water all day long from the drinking fountain in the hall."
"She NEVER brings food?" I asked.
Kate shook her head. "I think times are kind of tough at her house. You know her husband drinks a lot and she says he doesn't help out much with the baby. And she goes to nursing school two nights a week while her mom watches her son. That deadbeat doesn't even watch his own child while his wife goes to school. And you know, she works at Walgreens on the weekends too."
I was surprised. I hadn't known any of this. God, what a hard life that was! It kills me not to take Liv to school every day and I thought that I had it rough. My life was pretty luxurious compared to Felicity's.
She had casually mentioned that her husband "got drunk" a lot, but I had figured that was just a youth thing. Felicity is barely 22 and she said her husband was a year younger than she was.
After that day, I began watching Felicity more. Kate was right. She never brought a lunch, just sat at a table with whoever was eating in the cafeteria that day. She never bought a thing for herself, but never turned down food from co-workers, always carefully making sure that they really didn't want to take it home and save it first, though.
I also noticed how everyone in our office found a way to keep her fed. Rossi often brought cookies from home, claimed that his wife baked enough for an army and that there were always extras. Holland and a few of the other secretaries often pushed half bars of candy at her, claiming that they only could eat half, didn't want to get fat. Kate had an apple tree in her back yard and brought brown sacks full of them to work and begged people (Felicity) to help her "get rid" of them.
And I began buying bagels every few days. And I always made sure to grab a few strawberry jams too.
So, Felicity doesn't go hungry at work. Not that we are all this saintly, kind bunch...but I have discovered something akin to a family atmosphere in the workplace. We have our real families but we also are sort of an office family. Some of us are more popular than others, some of us are barely tolerated, we all have odd quirks.
Felicity hums. She also has a 7 month old son whose name is Jesus. The first time she told me his name, I thought she said it was "Hey, Zeus."
Nita bugs everyone to call her "Mama."
Kate smokes like a fiend and smells like it.
Rossi wears McCain buttons and chews all the erasers off the pencils.
Sandra has allergies and for a willowy wisp of a girl, she can sure make gross snuffling pig noises with her nose.
Tony sort of smells like witch hazel.
And there are others that I am sure I simply haven't discovered yet.
I wonder what they say about me?
Maria is hard to get to know. She is aloof.
Maria is really crabby in the early morning, best to not talk to her until after 10.
Maria doesn't sit like a lady, but sits on one leg in her chair and when she reads charts, her glasses slip down her nose.
I'm sure there is something. And we are all up in each other's business like a family too. We know that Holland never gets enough sleep, tends to stay up late and watch old movies and then she comes to work with puffy eyes. Sandra has a boyfriend who is so jealous that he calls her every day at 2:30 to ask when exactly she will get home that day. Nita is the one who eats all the fudge in the break room but will never admit it. Tony has a crush on that woman in HR and sneaks up there all the time hoping to accidentally run into her.
And Felicity has the husband who drinks.
For some reason this pisses me more than usual. I know this is going to sound sexist, so go ahead and point your fingers at me, but it occurs to me that you hardly ever hear about women who stay out and party with their friends all night and leave the baby with their husbands. And when a woman takes care of her own children, she never refers to it as "babysitting."
So, yes. Felicity hums. And drives us all insane.
But, she also goes to nursing school at night and works on the weekends as a cashier at Walgreens.
And goes without lunch way too often.
So, we find a way to care for her, just the way you would do with family.
Because we sort of are a family. You can't spend eight hours a day with each other and not be one.
I may want to smack her for humming, but something in me also wants to make sure that she eats that half a bagel for lunch.
With strawberry jelly......