And so we meet again, awesome readers!
As you may have guessed by the title, today’s post involves two stories. One is kind of a family fable, both are intertwined with a lesson in human behavior …
I have this quirk: I can’t sit at a desk that’s facing a wall.
It seems I have a strong aversion to concentrating when my back is exposed. Mostly because when people come talk to me, even if they gently say my name to get my attention, I jump out of my skin.
It’s like I’m somewhere in my thoughts … lost in words usually … and as my attention gets sucked back through the vacuum that separates focus and time, my entire being gets startled. It’s usually a violent moment and I end up startling the other person as well.
And so to solve this problem,
I recently hijacked a little table from the hallway of our offices and placed it as an extension to my desk.
Since the table is a little shorter than a typical desk, it’s not ergonomically correct and to fix this, I built up the table with two packages of photocopy paper and voila! A quasi-Macgyvered desk that lets me focus with my back towards the wall; the way working was intended.
Now I can see people walk up to me. No one screams. Everyone is happy.
AND bonus: I am now also better prepared to save the world from the zombie apocalypse.
Then this …
For the last week or so I’ve been going into work and noticing that my stacks of photocopying paper have been displaced.
I didn’t really think anything of it. I would notice, rearrange the stacks, take my laptop out of my bag, enter the writing zone, end of story.
I never mentioned the mysterious displacement of paper to anyone and you’ll understand why in the second story of this post.
This week one of my colleagues walked up to my little work area to ask me a question.
(Note that I saw him coming and therefore there was no escaping of skin or moment of panic in the office.)
“So ummmm … Did you figure out who’s been playing around with your desk?” My colleague asked.
(Dad, if you’re reading this I’m pretty sure you know what’s coming next.)
“Yup. Just did,” I said.
He of course didn’t know how to respond. He just stood in front of me for about seven years, wearing an expression of hand-in-cookie-jar. Finally, I broke the silence by saying, “Let me tell you a story.”
I then proceeded to tell him the following family fable.
I don’t remember its origins. It’s one of those my-father-told-it-to-me-and-I-think-his-dad-told-it-to-him-and-who-knows-where-grandpa-heard-it-from stories.
Here’s how it goes, embellished by a blend of childhood memories and my imagination …
Once upon a long time ago there was this farmer. He was a quiet man with a quiet life. He got up early to do the chores. He knew how to fix things like tractors and fences. He wore coveralls and plaid shirts on most days and had a second pair of cowboy boots for Sundays when he, his wife, and two young children would go to church.
After the service, everyone would indulge in a pot luck lunch. With much to do seven days a week – tending to the crops, cows, chickens, and a few horses – and with many acres between neighbours, it was at the church on Sundays that the farmer would do his socializing. This is where he learned of calves being born, town gossip, and the price of hay.
Now as I mentioned, the farmer was a quiet man. He didn’t say much but he paid attention. It was just his way.
His wife? She was a hardworking woman and quiet just like her husband. But on Sundays she could chatter away with the best of them. Wearing her finest shawl that she crocheted herself, and boasting the doughnuts and salads on the serving table that she made that morning, she too eagerly learned of the town gossip and price of hay.
Yes, Sunday mornings at the church, after the cows had been milked, the chickens fed and eggs gathered, were a fine way to break up the week. Everyone looked forward to Sundays.
The rest of the week was pretty much routine. Except for that one particular Tuesday when the farmer set out to fetch the cows from the pasture. This is when he noticed that two of his young heifers were missing. After walking all along the parameters of his pasture to see if there was a break in the fence, the farmer concluded that someone had stolen them. Naturally, this angered the farmer. He himself an honest man, had no patience for thieves or cheaters.
After quieting his anger, he gathered the rest of his cows with the help of Bonnie, the family dog (and the farmer’s right hand), and went on with his day.
The farmer never mentioned the missing heifers. Not to his wife. Not to anyone.
Days slipped into weeks, months into years.
The children got older and started helping with the chores.
Bonnie eventually passed on and together, the family quietly buried her under the crab apple tree behind the house. For a headstone, the children took a rock from their mother’s flower bed and with pink nail polish, painted the letter “B” on it so that they could remember their beloved family pet forever.
The routine eventually ironed itself out and time went on with chores and Sunday gatherings at the church.
Then one day after service while the farmer was standing in a circle with the other men, all talking as they held paper plates filled with macaroni salad, deviled eggs, and chicken sandwiches, one of the men, a nearing neighbor to the farmer, asked a seemingly innocent question:
“I’ve been meaning to ask you,” he said as he looked into the farmer’s eyes. “Did you ever find out who took those heifers of yours?”
The farmer, being of a quiet and gentle nature, finished chewing on his bite of sandwich, swallowed, and without smiling or blinking said, “I just did.”
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