Friday, April 29, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Position:  Floor Manager (Part-time)
Adult Education seeks a Floor Manager to supervise support services for the program:  collection of student attendance; orientation of new volunteer tutors; supervision of one kitchen assistant, one van driver, one computer lab assistant and two child care providers.
Mark is quitting after about 15 years as our Floor Manager.  He got a raise at his day job, and he would rather have extra time than extra money right now. I have dreaded trying to fill this job, because it is so uniquely Mark's.  I have only posted it internally so far, hoping that a current volunteer might want to do it.  It would be really hard to cast my net upon the sea of Craig's List and come up with the right person.   
Sean M. has expressed an interest. He wants to follow Mark around for a couple of classes, to see exactly what he does.  I think Sean could be a good choice. 
Sean asked Mark, "Would I have to grow a ponytail?" (Mark has a long braid.)  "Yes," said Mark.  "That's so she can catch you when you're goin'.  Watch."  I played along.  When he walked by, I grabbed his ponytail and he spun around to face me.  "And how does she catch you when you're comin'?"  I laughed and reached up to snag my fingers in Mark's chest hair where it emerges from his collar.  Sean laughed too, but his hand went protectively to his throat.

Once, on a hot, lazy afternoon when we were camping, Mark was walking along without his shirt on.  He was carrying two-year-old Nathan, who snuggled up to him sleepily and started running his fingers through Mark's chest hair.  Nate murmered, "You're so sof'... jus' like a lamb.  You got a lotta lamb.  You got more lamb than my daddy OR my mommy."  We always call chest hair "lamb" now.

Although Mark and I have enormous affection for each other, we have absolutely no chemistry of any kind. He has no butt.  Jokes that if he wants people to think he has an ass, he has to put a wallet in each pocket.  To me, he's like a super-fantastic older brother. He and his wife Edie were the first good friends Simon and I made when we moved to Salt Lake 19 years ago.  Mark slept on my sofa and took care of the kids when Si was in the hospital a few years ago.  He sometimes calls me when he needs to comb though a problem with a fellow mind-fucker.  I sometimes need him to sit across from me and listen to my unburdenings, too. 

Here's the thing.  Some other person will do Mark's job, but no one will ever fill his shoes.  The requirements to fill his job are above; but what candidate would also be willing to:
  1. Rub my neck while I work because, "your think-muscles are all in a knot, Miss Kate!"
  2. Allow the staff to dress him up in wizard hats, fuzzy sweaters or super hero capes and then take his picture;
  3. Allow children to follow him everywhere, like some kind of hippie Pied Piper;
  4. Tell me that I have a "tiny hiney";
  5. Bring in chocolate bars for the teachers on stressful nights;
  6. Arrive at work from his other job and say, "Whew!  It is great to get here and be able to spend some time with some SANE women!"  (If you have read much about this staff, you will raise your eyebrows at this comment.)
  7. Take a fussy baby from a mother who is trying to study and carry it around while he works;
  8. Say the same trite things over and over to me for 19 years:  "Drive cheerfully!"  "That dude was a few fries short of a Happy Meal."  "What time is it?  Is it beer-thirty yet?"  "You look like you been rid hard and put away wet!"
  9. Bring a huge grill to the annual picnic and be the weenie roaster guy.
  10. Gently remove the crazy guy who comes around looking for his old teachers from the Catholic school days and ransacks the Kindergarten room.
  11. WAY overdo high fives.  High five for EVERYTHING. 
I came down the stairs last night and heard him talking to a couple of volunteers who were expressing sadness that he would be going soon.

"How long have you worked here?"
"Well, 20 years!  But first I was the building custodian, then I took this job about 15 years ago."
"Wow, you have stayed for a really long time."
"I love working with these students and this staff."
"Was Kate your boss all that time?"
"No, just the last eight years.  But we work together great!"  I walked up to him as he was saying, "We go together like... like... uh...  Kate, how do we go together?"
"Like peanut butter and jelly, Babe!"
"Like peanut butter and jelly!  WHOO!"

High five!


  1. I feel like my officemates are pretty much my second family. With the exception of my secretary. She is the scourge of god and I want to fire her so badly,but she is elderly, in her 70's and I keep thinking that maybe she will die soon.

  2. oh sadness! I've just started to get to know Mark..

    I know I've been around nearly (more than?) a year, right! damned shyness! maybe this will teach me a lesson of some sort.

    whoever replaces Mark's job will never replace him, but someday they will surely also be very special to you :)